Can you tell us how you got started as a SANE nurse?
I knew I always wanted to work with vulnerable populations and when I was 19 and in college I volunteered for the rape crisis center in Lawrence, KS. From there, after I came back from a deployment to Iraq, I went back to school to get my nursing degree. During that time my husband got deployed so I did some online work and obtained my victim survivor certificate. During that time I had an internship where I had the opportunity to work for the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment that led to a job as a shelter advocate. I have had the opportunity to see different facets of care.
As a new grad in 2015, I started working at The University of Kansas Health System in the ER. During my interview process I specifically asked about the opportunity to become a SANE nurse because it was an important part of nursing I wanted to be involved with. About seven months into my nursing role I took the Adult and Adolescent sexual assault nurse examiner course organized by metro area forensics coordinators. I then was able to move into my current role as a SANE forensic program coordinator at The University of Kansas Hospital. I continue to work in the ER one shift per week.
What is a SANE Nurse and what do you do?
SANE stands for sexual assault nurse examiner, and you wear several different hats. First and foremost you are a nurse and you care for the patient medically while collecting evidence. In the Kansas City Metro, it is important to understand laws and regulations for both Missouri and Kansas and be able to follow your hospital’s policy and protocol for evidence collection, which will mirror state regulations. You are there to provide the patient information about the sexual assault exam, prophylactic medications that are available to them, and medical evaluations that are important for them to have. During that process you educate them on their right to say yes or no to each piece of the exam which ranges from standard evidence collection (this collects the patient’s DNA) to the most invasive portion, the pelvic exam. Throughout the process swabs, photographs and information are collected to find out what happened during the assault, and to treat any injuries that have occurred. That information is then (with the patient’s permission, unless it’s a mandated report) sent to the jurisdiction where the assault occurred and moves through the investigative process. If the investigation goes through to a court preceding you may be called as a witness to testify to the evidence you collected.
Do you work for a hospital?
I work for a The University of Kansas Health System. We maintain a call schedule where staff signs up in addition to their normal hours they work during the week, and will come in to perform the exams.
What experience did you have to have before becoming a SANE nurse?
You must complete a 40 hour dyadic course and have clinical experience to become a SANE nurse. In the metro, the coordinators from different organizations support one another by working together to host the dyadic course and send staff to SANE-A-Pallooza, which is an 8 hour clinical day. Since becoming a SANE nurse I have also obtained my Master’s in Nursing with a specialization in Forensic Nursing.
What information is most important for nurses to know if they want to be become a SANE nurse?
Understand that you will hear very graphic details about things humans have done to other humans and it can be very difficult. I would encourage you to evaluate your own trauma history, and if you have processed through that trauma in your own life! Companies have an employee assistance program that can help with that, but you will hear very graphic details about things humans have done to other humans and it can be very difficult. However, being a SANE nurse is incredibly rewarding because you have the ability to help someone begin to heal from violence perpetrated against them.
Morgan Stebens MSN-FN, RN, SANE-A Forensic Program Coordinator The University of Kansas Hospital System email- email@example.com
Thank you Morgan for sharing your nursing journey! For more information about the local SANE training and programs offered in Kansas City click the links below. Feel free to reach out to Morgan for additional questions.
If you or a colleague would like to be featured in our job spotlight, please contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear your nursing story!