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Q&A about SANEs with Beth McCord

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

We understand that a SANE is a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, but a lot of us aren't aware of what that title means or how it's acquired. In honor of Forensic Nurse week, we asked our very own SANE Nurse Practitioner Beth McCord some general questions and answers about SANE nursing.

Q: What does the training require for nurses interested in pursuing SANE certifications?  Beth: 40 hours of didactic content, a photo lab and mock trial. At that point the nurse becomes SANE trained. The nurse may go on and follow certain guidelines and then sit for the certification exam, however the certification is not required for the nurse to be a SANE. 

Q: Explain what it means to be trauma informed as a SANE?

Beth: The SANE learns to be trauma informed from training. Being a SANE means you understand how trauma changes the brain.  With that understanding, we are able to educate the patient on trauma responses in their body as well as recognizing physical signals our patients are thinking but aren't verbal about.

Q: How do you establish comfort with your clients?

Beth: Establishing comfort after a sexual assault is tough. Steps that can assist include building a rapport very early in meeting the client. Next is making sure the client understands they control the exam and have the power to stop at any time. 

Q: What does the process look like for a Forensic exam? Beth: The forensic exam can take four hours or more to complete. The first step is having the client medically cleared by a medical provider, and then the SANE can complete the exam. The exam includes swabs, collecting clothing and photos.  The client guides the exam, hence determining the length of the exam.

Q: What role does the SANE play in the medical community?

Beth: The SANE is a very valuable piece of the community response to sexual violence. The SANE is educated in forensic exams and trauma, so they are the best option for collecting the exam and testifying in court. SANEs are much more preferred in treating a client who has been a victim of trauma which includes domestic violence, sexual violence, or strangulation.

Q: How do you collaborate with law enforcement?

Beth: SANEs collaborate with law enforcement from the beginning. Once the kit is collected, it is given to law enforcement in order to maintain chain of custody. The Center for Violence Prevention’s Bridge Forensic Clinic gives law enforcement another option for clients to have an exam completed in a clinic setting instead of a chaotic emergency room. SANEs work with LEO to help educate them as well as the client regarding medical issues or memory issues. 

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