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Batchen (2005) defines the components of the nursing process as the client, the environment, the definition of health, and the definition of the nurse's role. Another trend in healthcare to be addressed is the reduction of enrollment in Registered Nurse (RN) programs, which has led to a shortage of trained nurses. This trend is important because the role of the forensic nurse has changed as a result of the increase in a nurse's range of function, with the rise in the number of the elderly due to improved healthcare systems and the introduction of community-based preventive projects.
In the future, the role of the forensic nurse may become more specialized and considered a separate profession from the registered nurse. According to the Federal Bureau of Health professions, in 2000, the National supply of registered nurses was estimated at 1.89 million, while the demand was projected at 2 million, a shortage of 110,000, or 6% (Sterzenbach, 2005). According to Sterzenbach (2005), based on what is known about trends in the supply of RNs and their anticipated demand, the shortage is expected to grow relatively slowly until 2010, by which time it will have reached 12%. This affects the role of the forensic nurse, because these shortages in the nursing practice will in turn reduce the number of forensic nurses. One way in which the profession can deal with the predicted shortages is to make forensic nursing a specialized industry, thus appealing to more individuals that may be specifically interested in the elements involved in forensic nursing. The profession can deal with this shortage trend by increasing pay rates of those already working as qualified nurses to consider specialization.
Another trend in healthcare, sparked by recent corporate scandals involving ethics, is the practice of ethics in relation to healthcare. According to Batchen (2005), ethics in nursing must be people-oriented and focus on helping people toward holistic living. The forensic nurse must always act with a clear concept of ethics in mind, which has been guided by recent requirements in ethics training for all. Whether applying ethics to the living or deceased client, the nurse's actions should be guided by determining what is the right thing to do. The treatment of the decedent should be no less than what is expected for any living client, although the focus may be different (Batchen, 2005). The concept of grief resolution may be applied to survivors of the decedent and to the agency personnel at the scene (Batchen, 2005). Those entering a position as a forensic nurse must be required to complete a series of formal ethics training that is wholly relevant to their position in the medical and investigation fields.
Current Healthcare System and Future Projections
In the current healthcare system, forensic nurses play several different roles. In the future, these roles will continue to be significant, although they may change a little. Technological advancements and new medical practices will have a significant impact on the field of forensic nursing in the future. For example, improved methods of DNA and fluid testing's will improve the quality of these investigations, and the accuracy of the results. As a result of these medical improvements, the testimony of forensic nurses will carry more weight in the courtroom, streamlining the legal process. In addition, future predictions for the forensic nurse profession include the standardization of educational requirements, and a solution to the shortages of nurses. As long as the pay rates for forensic nurses are increased, and the profession receives more recognition as a specialty, the shortage in this industry should be reduced. With the widespread assistance of the media and television, the role of the forensic nurse will emerge as a necessary role in the medical profession. Finally, the future of the forensic nurse appears to be bright.
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