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How a Sense of Curiosity Drove One Woman to Study Forensic Nursing

Photo: Courtesy of Cleveland State Universit

Choosing a career path doesn’t always mean calculating your every move — sometimes, your passion ends up finding you.

At least that was the case for master’s of nursing student Michelle Stewart, who, after several years of being a nursing midwife in England and Saudi Arabia, began studying forensic nursing.

Stewart, a registered nurse studying for her next degree at Cleveland State University in Ohio, remembers watching a medical examiner TV show as a child and gushing over it with enthusiasm to her mom.

“There’s always been that interest for me, and I never really had a name for it until now, until I came to the U.S. and became a forensic nurse,” said Stewart, who is a United Kingdom native. “But there was always that intrigue in me … I’m that type of person and that type of professional who needs to know the ‘whys’ of things.”

One degree, many paths

According to the International Association of Forensic Nurses, forensic nurses work at the intersection of law and medicine. Specifically, they help treat patients who have faced neglect, domestic abuse, sexual assault, and the like.

The field of nursing is vaster than this scope. Stewart said with her degree, she has many paths available, including becoming a traditional nurse, a nurse consultant, or a nurse coroner, and she can work in death investigations.

Her rigorous studies, combined with being a single mom to her two daughters, mean she has to stay organized. Keeping multiple calendars, taking advantage of on-campus resources, and carving out time for self-care have been lifesavers — all pieces of advice she would pass on to other aspiring forensic nurses.

The biggest challenge in her studies, she said, is simply figuring out what kind of forensic nurse she wants to be when she graduates. “I might have to be a trailblazer and create a job for myself,” she said.

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