Forensic Nurses

My service to IAFN has always been an honor for me and an opportunity to give back to my colleagues who have been there for me during my nursing career.  The committees on which I have served have been a springboard to connecting with other forensic nurses, growing as a nurse and seeing forensic nurses through the eyes of others.  This has expanded my ability to care for patients, to develop educational opportunities for forensic nurses, and to advance my scholarship. 

Anita Hufft, PhD, RN, Valdosta, GA

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) are registered nurses who have completed specialized education and clinical preparation in the medical forensic care of the patient who has experienced sexual assault or abuse.

 A SANE cares for patients who have been victims of sexual assault and abuse. This patient population requires expertise in physical assessment and advanced clinical skills. The SANE normally works in concert with a collaborative, multidisciplinary group of professionals to develop a plan of care for the patient at discharge. A component of the streamlined care the SANE can offer the patient is the medical forensic examination. This exam at it’s broadest is composed of the medical forensic history, a detailed physical and emotional assessment, written and photographic documentation of injuries, collection and management of forensic samples, and providing emotional and social support and resources. The SANE also can testify in any legal proceedings related to the examination and ensures the proper chain of custody and integrity of the samples is maintained so that the evidence will be admissible in court.

The multidisciplinary professionals that often work with the SANE are other responders in the community. These may include: advocates, law enforcement, and legal professionals. These professionals are also striving to assure that the response to a patient who has been sexually assaulted in their community is victim-centered and compassionate and ultimately may provide the potential for a successful criminal justice response.

To become a SANE, a person must first be a registered nurse, preferably with experience in areas that require advanced physical assessment skills, such as emergency, critical care and maternal child health.   Nurses will want to make sure that any training they receive meets all of the requirements in their community. Requirements vary significantly, and each state, province, or country Board of Nursing/College of Nursing may have different requirements for SANE practice.  Additionally, those who have obtained SANE training have the opportunity to take a board certification examination through the IAFN. The (SANE-A) or pediatric (SANE-P) board certification tests are for SANE caring for the specific populations of adult/adolescent patients or pediatric patients. The eligibility requirements include: completion of a 40 hour classroom training that meets the IAFN education guidelines. The nurse must then also complete a clinical component to that training to assure that she is competent to care for sexual assault patients. The time to complete this portion of the eligibility criteria will vary by state or jurisdictional requirements, as well as individual needs.  

Resources for SANE



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