Monday, January 13, 2014

CSI: Forensic Nurses on the Scene

Who said nurses could only find jobs in hospitals? Now, more than ever before, forensic nurses are playing significant roles in coroner and medical examiner's offices.

As Stacy Miller reports on the Advance Healthcare Network website, it was Jennifer Schindell, BSN, RN, F-ABMDI, who after working in hospitals in Alaska, Idaho and Orgeon, found it extremely strange that more investigators didn't come to the hospital to delve deeper into cases involving trauma, abuse or neglect.

While there, officers could have collected evidence from the patient's clothing and other belongings while gathering information on injuries and collecting patient statements. Schindell explained that having law enforcement officials who were present at the crime scene would also have been helpful in treating her patients, because she would be able to ask questions about what happened to her patient before they were brought in.

So Schindell got to work at bridging the gap herself. With experience working in med/surg, critical care, neuro/trauma, flight nursing and some time caring for inmates in a jail, Schindell got to work training to become a forensic nurse. Her hard work paid off: Today she is the deputy chief medical examiner and forensic nurse for Linn and Benton counties in Western Oregon. She is also a board certified medicolegal death investigator and is currently working on her master's in medical anthropology at Oregon State University - she will graduate next year.

To read more of Schindell's story including what it's like to work in a medical examiner's office, what it means to be a nurse coroner and what the classes are like, check out Miller's entire article.