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What is the Benefit of a Forensic Nurse vs. a Nurse Educator Degree?

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What is a Nurse Educator?

Nurse educators are registered nurses (RNs) who require an advanced degree in nursing. This gives them the necessary education to teach nursing at the college level. They join the faculty of teaching hospitals, and nursing schools. Some of their duties include formulating the curriculum and assessing the coursework.

What is a Forensic Nurse?

A forensic nurse is a Registered or Advanced Practice nurse who has received specific education and training. They provide care for patients who have been traumatized by violent events who need long-term or short-term care. In addition, forensic nurses become involved in matters relating to both civil and criminal legal proceedings, as a consultant. Their involvement is associated with their role in obtaining evidence and in treating victims of neglect, sexual, and domestic abuse.

Education of a Forensic Nurse

First, you must complete nursing school and become a registered nurse by sitting for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing NCLEX exam (NCLEX-RN). The next step is to enroll in training in one of the forensic specialties. Most registered nurses find success in starting as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE. A SANE is a registered nurse with 2+ years of experience, and who has completed the required 40 hours of classroom instruction and 40 hours of clinical training.  You must also be experienced in areas of healthcare that necessitated physical examination skills, such as critical and/or emergency care.

Education of a Nurse Educator

Registered nurses who aspire to be educators will need to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Once you have successfully completed this degree, you may qualify for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Once this exam has been passed, the graduate is eligible for licensure as a registered nurse. The next step on the educational pathway is to proceed to a Master’s of Science in Nursing degree (MSN). This will be beneficial for those with their sights on becoming a nurse educator.

Advantage Forensics

To become a nurse educator requires a more advanced degree than a forensic nurse. According to American Nurse Today magazine, more nurse educators have a master’s. However, doctoral preparation is preferred. An MSN does not preclude you from teaching. This degree should provide opportunities to teach in a pre-licensure nursing program or an assistant in an MSN teaching program. In addition, some hospital-based diploma program may hire you with an MSN. If you aspire to teach nursing courses at the university level, you will need a Ph.D. in Nursing or DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice).

The Ph.D. in nursing is generally considered the academic and research-oriented degree, whereas the DNP is the practice-oriented or professional terminal degree.

To reiterate, the registered nurse with training in forensics can become a forensic nurse. However, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is highly recommended. At the master’s degree level, you can earn a Master of Science in Forensic Nursing that provides an education in forensics and law concepts.

Salary Potential

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports only on the occupation of Registered Nurses that have a median pay of $70,000 per year. The projected growth is 15% or a change in 438,100 jobs through 2026. Therefore, the BLS does not report on the salary for the specialties of a forensic nurse or a nurse educator. According to the employment site, PayScale, forensic nurses earn an average of $30.77 per hour. Their salary range is $58,321 to $89,602 per year. These figures are from only 18 reported salaries.

PayScale reports the median salary of a Nurse Educator at $73,188 based on 1,439 individuals reporting their respective pay. The range is $54,086 to $100,267.

NursingSchool.org states that most forensic nurses earn $26 to $100 per hour, which is roughly $54k to $208k a year. You have to remember that this depends on your skill; specialty, tenure, location, and experience.

Summary

The more expeditious path with respect to education is the forensic nurse. If you stop at the BSN degree, you will save time and money versus enrolling in a master’s program. The nurse educator has a greater dependency on obtaining a master’s or doctoral degree.

The salaries are comparable due to the reported ranges for both professions.

The forensic nurse option provides the benefit of choices in sexual assault cases, death investigations, legal consultants, gerontology, psychiatry, nurse coroners, and criminal investigations. A nurse educator is foremost a teacher. However, there are choices of where you teach (hospital, community college, university etc.) and at what education level you are qualified to teach.

The forensic nursing course may favor individuals who want to dabble in the field of criminal justice. The nurse educator may be preferable for individuals who want to inspire and encourage students.

Additional Resources

What Is the Benefit of a BSN Degree Vs an ADN Degree? 

What Is the Benefit of an MSN Degree Vs a BSN Degree?

What Is the Benefit of a Nursing Degree Vs a Sonography Degree?

What Are the Benefits of Pursuing a Degree in Nursing?

 

 

 

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