Last month, officials with Vanderbilt University School of Nursing announced the school has received a $1.43 million award from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to develop and implement a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) education program for emergency nurse practitioner (ENP) students. Vanderbilt's program is projected to increase the number of SANE-trained and certified advanced practice registered nurses practicing in emergency departments in rural or underserved communities in the U.S.
Mavis Schorn, PhD, CNM, FACNM, is the grant's principal investigator. "Currently, there are just over 800 sites in the country that provide SANE services," Schorn said. "Sexual assault nurse examiners have specialized education to conduct forensic examinations that have been shown to provide better physical and mental health care for assault survivors, deliver better evidence collection and support higher prosecution rates."
Vanderbilt will offer SANE education to incoming students in its ENP Post-Master's Certificate program. These students are current family nurse practitioners who are seeking additional education to become ENPs. They will complete SANE training concurrently with their ENP education and will be able to select adult/adolescent and/or pediatric/adolescent SANE training. The school may also offer the SANE education program to its other master-level students if openings are available.
"Positioned within emergency departments, ENPs are often the first to discover an individual has been sexually assaulted," Schorn said. Because ENPs have education and experience in providing care for males and females of all ages, they are perfectly positioned to provide sexual assault care, she noted.
An additional aspect of VUSN's program is its intended impact on rural or underserved areas. "Research has shown that the incidence of sexual assault in rural communities exceeds urban areas. Although data on numbers of SANE are limited, some states report few or, in some cases, no examiners in rural areas," Schorn said. "Without access to local SANE services, survivors must travel to get this essential care from providers with specialized training."
The new initiative is supported by Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Our Kids, which currently provides pediatric/adolescent SANEs in 47 Middle Tennessee counties; Nashville's Sexual Assault Center; and EmCare, a national organization that is one of the largest staffing organizations for emergency departments.