Fayetteville State University’s (FSU) School of Nursing launched a statewide initiative to train more Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs).

FSU is the first HBCU in the country to host a SANE training program at its nursing school, thanks to a $1.5 million appropriation from the state of North Carolina. Right now, there are fewer than 100 SANEs certified across the state of North Carolina, even though they are the best people to care for sexual assault victims and to collect forensic evidence.

“The state of North Carolina recognizes the need not only for a higher number of these specially trained nurses across the state but also a more diverse pool of these professionals to help make survivors feel more comfortable during an already traumatic time,” says Dr. Sheila Cannon, associate dean of FSU’s School of Nursing. “Fayetteville State University is in a unique position to fulfill those needs.”

FSU’s SANE program aims to train 20 specially qualified nurses per semester, including the summer, to reach 60 per year.

“This program emphasizes two of Fayetteville State University’s core missions, to prepare our students for success in their careers and to serve our community,” says FSU Chancellor Darrell T. Allison. “As much as we wish they weren’t needed, there is a shortage of these specially trained nurses in our state and community. Thanks to the exceptional training our current nursing students receive at our university, the state trusted us with the responsibility of filling that need. I have no doubt our faculty, and content experts are up to the task.”

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Beyond SANE training, a SANE nurse certification requires a candidate to have at least two years of nursing experience, complete dozens of hours of training and clinical work, and pass a written exam by the International Association of Forensic Nurses.

“Many nurses in the state have had some training either in a classroom or through the hospital, but they don’t have the full credential,” says Cannon. “A SANE nurse needs to know more than just how to collect DNA evidence. They are also trained to know where to look for injuries, how to ask delicate questions, and how to interact with survivors as they process what happened to them.”

FSU’s nursing school aims to grow and sustain the program to address a void in specialized nursing care, particularly in underserved and underrepresented communities.

Renee Hewitt
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