MSU wants to increase Michigan’s sexual assault nurse examiners

Currently, the state has 175 SANE-certified nurses; however, they are concentrated in only 22 of the state’s 83 counties.
Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 6:29 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - An initiative led by the Michigan State University College of Nursing will nearly double the state’s number of qualified nurses who can assess and treat survivors of sexual violence by 2024.

The program — funded by a three-year, $1.4 million federal grant — will begin in January and focus on ensuring more registered nurses have their Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner certification, or SANE, particularly in rural areas.

Currently, the state has 175 SANE-certified nurses; however, they are concentrated in only 22 of the state’s 83 counties. This program will train an additional 130 nurses, already employed in communities across the state, to ensure rural areas have access to these services.

“What we don’t want is a situation where survivors are showing up to a hospital and there’s no one there to take care of them,” said Rosalind Arch, Director of the Capital Area Response Effort.

So MSU is helping registered nurses get their SANE certification, which gives them specialized knowledge and clinical preparation in sexual assault and abuse cases.

“Being a forensic nurse... it’s a lot of training,” Tiffani Dusang said, Sparrow Hospital’s Director of Emergency and Forensic Nursing Services. “You’re hearing about somebody’s worst day of their life most likely. You’re addressing their emotional and psychological needs and their heart.”

Sparrow only has seven SANE certified nurses. MSU says many people in rural areas have to drive great distances or find transportation to receive care from this type of nurse.

“You don’t want patients to not go to a hospital or to not go see a sexual assault nurse examiner because one, you know you’re going to lose evidence a lot of times and you’re not going to have that special training in how to recognize and really document the way that you should do,” Dusang said.

The training typically takes two years to complete. Nurses who are in the program will have online coursework, in-person clinical workshops and mentors for additional clinical hours ensuring survivors get the best care as possible.

“I think that’s fantastic. Michigan State has been doing a lot in the last few years to increase services for survivors and provide those services. We’ve even taken clients there to receive SANE exams,” Lind said. “We’re glad that there’s more resources in our community.”

The new funding will not only help nursing students, but an additional 130 nurses already employed in communities across the state too.

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