One of the most important aspects of Forensic Nursing is finding the position where one can excel based on their personality and attention to detail. A very important job in forensic nursing is the position of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). This is a position that requires a dedicated, focused, and professional attitude at all times.
SANE nurses have receive special training in order to provide medical care for a victim of a sexual assault. In addition, SANE nurses are specially trained with a strong background in evidence collecting, to avoid destroying any trace physical evidence while caring for the patient. At all times it is imperative that a SANE nurse maintain an empathetic, caring and professional demeanor, especially during the comprehensive process of collecting evidence for a rape kit.
Collecting forensic evidence requires concentration balanced with compassion, and respectful nursing care to help a victim to walk through the steps in a rape kit. The requirements to be a successful SANE nurse include the following:
Performing a complete physical exam on the victim
Documenting the details of all evidence collected
Photographing any visible injury or trauma
Collecting specific physical evidence as required by law
Preserving collected evidence through the legal chain of custody
Ensuring the safe keeping of all records and evidence as required by law
Once the rape kit has been obtained, it is delivered to the investigating department and will be processed through the legal system chain of command.
The nurse under the guidance of a physician will begin treating the patient for any medical needs, including, cleaning and disinfecting physical injuries. The SANE nurse makes sure every sexual assault victim has a complete list of community referrals and counselors that are available to support the victim in the dark, difficult days after reality hits.
SANE nurses work diligently with law enforcement organizations. She will be involved in helping the prosecuting attorney to prove the case by testifying during court proceedings regarding the evidence she personally collected.
The SANE nurse is a valuable resource for the medical and legal systems by documenting the victim’s statement, and collecting the relevant evidence. However, the most vital goal for any SANE nurse is maintaining the patient’s dignity during the entire process. The SANE nurse is a benefit for the medical field.
Before SANE nurses, physicians or staff nurses helping the victim would generally need to find a reason to blame the victim. By placing the blame on the victim, he or she could easily convince themselves this could never happen to them. This would emerge in phrases such as “I would never be out after midnight” or “I would never go to that part of town alone.”
The truth is anyone should be able to walk around wearing his or her birthday suit and be safe. Sadly, this is not what happens in our country, where victims are treated like objects. Everyone should be treated like a human being. The SANE nurse ultimately makes the difference when collecting evidence for the rape kit of one that is a horrifying experience adding to the victim’s trauma, or one filled with gentle care, and understanding for the survivor of a sexual assault.