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University of Iowa News Release

June 6, 2006

UI College Of Nursing Trains Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners

The delicate process of interviewing sexual assault victims and collecting forensic evidence is the subject of a weeklong training session at the University of Iowa College of Nursing. Registered nurses from around the state, and as far away as Louisiana, will become certified sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs).

In this growing field, forensic nurses provide direct services to individual clients, consultation services to nursing, medical and law related agencies, and expert court testimony in assault cases.

Linda LaDray, Ph.D., a pioneer of the forensic nursing movement who has led the charge for universities to take a leadership role in such training, is a featured presenter. In addition to lectures, the sessions will include instruction in conducting victim interviews and examinations.

Mock trials will cap the week's activities on Friday, June 9. With the help of local attorneys playing the parts of prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges, the 23 participants each will get an idea of the witness stand experience.

Pam Terrill, coordinator of the Johnson County Sexual Assault Response Team and the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program, is also part of the training team.

"The sexual assault nurse examiner needs to balance the care of the patient with focusing on collecting evidence," Terrill said. "Our first goal is to assess whether there are physical injuries that need to be addressed. Then we talk about what has happened. The process of telling the story is the first step in healing."

There are currently 10 SANEs in the Iowa City area who are on call when not working their regular jobs. Whether the victim calls the police, walks into an emergency room or calls the Rape Victims Advocacy Program (RVAP) crisis line, a chain of events is triggered. A SANE is summoned and, if not already involved, an RVAP advocate is called.

"Mercy Hospital came on board a couple of years ago, so now victims have more choice in hospitals," said Terrill, who is employed part-time by the UI College of Nursing.

Each emergency room has an exam room dedicated to the task of collecting forensic evidence, a process that can take three to four hours or more.

"We all work together - advocates, nurses, hospital ER personnel, law enforcement and the county attorney's office," Terrill said. 

The program is supported by a grant from the Crime Victim Assistance Division of the Iowa State Attorney General's Office with matching support from UI Hospitals and Clinics and Mercy Hospital. 

One of the goals of SANE training is to ensure that victims elsewhere have access to well-coordinated care.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Nursing, 101 Nursing Building, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

MEDIA CONTACT: Michele Francis, 319-335-8960, michele-francis@uiowa.edu