Sexual assault is a major topic that affects almost every university around the United States, both on and off campus.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, it is estimated that “the percentage of completed or attempted rape victimization among women in higher educational institutions may be between 20 percent and 25 percent over the course of a college career.”
Many incidents go unreported to law enforcement; some victims stay quiet about the incident, while others confide in those they deem trustworthy.
In order to address this issue, some college campuses have brought a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program to their campus in order to ensure immediate attention to an issue which sometimes goes undetected.
Curtis Wininger, an ETSU student who is a registered nurse and has a bachelor of science in nursing, is working to implement the SANE program on campus this fall for his doctor of nursing practice degree.
“Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners are well-known, especially in the emergency setting, and they are the leading experts in sexual assault medical forensic exams,” Wininger said. “We already have the resources; we just need the training and the systems to bring this care to the patients that need it.”
Funding has recently been approved by the university to train seven nurses and more prospective nurses over the summer in order to implement this program in the fall.
According to Wininger, a certified SANE nurse is required to be an RN and have a bachelor’s degree, as well as two years of experience, before undergoing the International Association of Forensic Nurses training course, which is a 40 hour classroom course with 400-500 hours of clinical training.
The SANE program would be active 24/7 at the Student Health Center on the main campus and would not cost patients any money in order to receive an examination.
“The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will provide kits, which the SANE nurse will use, and resubmit them to the TBI lab to be reassessed,” Wininger said. “The service will be free of charge for students, but a student might have to pay if they require specialty testing that is out of the range of what the kit will do, such as HIV testing.”
Wininger said that the SANE nurse will do a full health assessment of injuries, evidence collection, general STI and pregnancy testing on patients. Referrals will be made out of the exam if more attention is needed.
Wininger expects more reports will come out due to the SANE program, but he feels that is necessary in order to address the problem of sexual assault on campus.
“I think we should commend the university for working on transparency when it comes to sexual assault,” Wininger said. “Universities do better when they are being proactive–like ETSU–instead of being reactive, and a SANE program is definitely being proactive.”