Forensic nursing programs are pairing nursing care with training in evidence collection so that nurses can try to preserve evidence of a crime as they provide medical treatment, USA Today reports. Forensic nursing dates back to the 1970s. It was recognized officially by the American Nurses Association as a specialty field in 1995. In most states, there are nurses who have been trained to document the medical conditions of victims of rape and sexual assault, says Carey Goryl of the International Association of Forensic Nurses.
In cities including Louisville, Colorado Springs, and Houston, nurses are being trained to expand their skills to help victims of crimes other than sexual assaults, including abuse, shootings, and traffic incidents. Bill Smock, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and a police surgeon, began a program at the university’s hospital last year. Since 1991, the number of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner programs has grown from only 20 to more than 500 in the U.S. and Canada.