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MSU-led program aims to train more nurses to assess and treat sexual assault survivors

Posted at 3:16 PM, Jul 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-08 15:16:57-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan State University College of Nursing will launch a new training program to nearly double the number of nurses in the state who can assess and treat survivors of sexual violence by 2024.

The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners program will launch in January thanks to a $1.4 million federal grant.

Katherine Dontje is a lead on the project and an associate professor in the College of Nursing. MSU’s ability to coordinate all three elements of the state-wide training program is what got MSU the grantm, she said.

“This initiative strengthens our existing efforts to improve access to prompt, compassionate services for survivors of sexual assault,” Dontje said Wednesday.

Why are sexual assault nurse examiners needed?

SANE-certified nurses receive specialized training and clinical preparation to identify and treat sexual assault and abuse cases. Michigan currently has 175 SANE-certified nurses working in 22 counties across the state, according to MSU. The program will train 130 nurses already employed in communities throughout the state.

“Access to trained, trauma-informed health care professionals is still a significant barrier for survivors, with many having to drive great distances to find a SANE-certified nurse,” Dontje said.

The SANE program will work in collaboration with the MSU Center for Survivors and the Michigan Center for Rural Health.

Rebecca Campbell is the adviser to the president on Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct issues on campus. She has served as the SANE project’s research evaluator and co-author of the grant.

How will Michigan State training sexual assault nurse examiners?

The program is an extension of the university’s new Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct strategic plan announced in April. The plan aims to decrease violence on campus by increasing reporting rates and offering trauma-informed, intersectional programs to address campus needs.

“SANE programs are a critical resource for sexual assault survivors’ health and well-being,” Campbell said in a university news release.

In order to meet certification requirements, nurses will participate in a combination of online coursework as well as an in-person clinical workshop. Mentors will be paired with nurses for extra clinical hours and experiences throughout the program.

Where are sexual assault nurse examiners needed?

By training nurses already employed in rural areas, the program focuses on increasing access to sexual assault and abuse treatment in areas that have typically been without these services.