The role of Forensic Registered Nurses in sexual assault examinations
Sexual assault cases such as rape are usually very difficult crimes to prosecute. In the U.S. alone, out of every 100 rapes that occur, only 46 are reported. Out of the reported 46 rapes, only 12 result to arrests and only 3 result in prison sentences. This indicates a success rate of only 3% which is very low. In order to deal with this, advocates have turned their attention to forensic nurses to encourage them receive the relevant training to be able to give proper sexual assault examinations. Prosecutions are always very difficult especially if a victim does not get a prompt examination. Forensic nurses are therefore being encouraged to help in sexual assault cases to be able to deal with the rape menace once and for all.
The rate of registered forensic nurses that are certified to carry out sexual assault examination is very low compared to the total number of registered nurses. Thus, this is a very viable career option for nurses today. Currently sexual assault examinations by forensic nurses are offered for free to any rape victims who are willing to be examined in at least one hospital in every county in the U.S. under a program started in year 2000. These forensic nurses are responsible for examining the rape victims and also contributing to the foundation of legal cases for these victims which shows that the role of forensic nurses in sexual assault is increasing. This State-wide rape exam system has not only modified the role of forensic nurses but it has gone further to stress on the importance of rape victims seeking medical attention immediately. Forensic nurses have the task of acting fast to persuade victims to seek medical attention fast to avoid cases of evidence being destroyed. Evidence in rape cases can be easily destroyed if a victim uses the bathroom or showers. Forensic nurses are usually aware that they need to find evidence quick if a rape case is to stand any chance of success thus they have to gently persuade their victims to agree to a quick exam.
The roles of forensic nurses from different states in the U.S. are enrolling for certification exams to learn how to carry out proper sexual assault examinations. The certification process involves spending time learning about trauma, anatomy, victim and suspect exams, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The nurses are also taught about proper ways of evidence collection and preservation, the law and courts, testifying, violence, suspect profiling and referrals to victim services. Before being certified, forensic nurses also need to acquire some form of clinical experience that is crucial to passing a number of certification tests. Forensic nurses also have to be re-certified annually in order to make sure that they are kept informed in sexual assault examinations/procedures.
Once certified, forensic nurses can now be able to apply to any hospital in the U.S. that offers sexual assault services to become part of a group of specialists who are always on call throughout the year. A forensic nurse as a sexual assault examiner can earn additional salary by taking time on call. Most forensic nurses who can double up as sexual assault examiners therefore have other full-time nursing jobs. In summary the role of forensic registered nurses in sexual assault examinations can’t be undermined. If sexual assault cases are to be reduced, then these cases have to provide concrete evidence.
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