$1.3M Grant to LSU Health NO to Increase Certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners

A team led by Jessica Landry, DNP, FNP-BC, program coordinator, BSN-DNP primary care namily nurse practitioner at LSU Health New Orleans School of Nursing, successfully competed for a $1.3 million grant to increase access to certified sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) for people who have been sexually assaulted in 12 southeast Louisiana parishes. The Health Resources & Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the three-year grant, which began Sept. 30, 2018. 

“Currently, 1.3 million residents share one sexual assault nurse examiner certified to manage adult cases of sexual assault, and there are no SANEs certified for pediatric cases,” noted Landry, who is the grant’s principle investigator. “Of the 10 rural parishes surrounding the New Orleans area, none have SANE services available locally. When a resident is sexually assaulted, he/she must be transported up to 90 miles to either Jefferson or Orleans Parish. In addition to providing SANE training, we plan to work with rural parishes to increasingly implement the Community-based Model, where SANE practitioners are centralized and travel to local hospitals to complete forensic sexual assault examinations rather than requiring victims to come to them.”

The project will train 140 nurses, with certification of a minimum of 75 SANE nurses.  Funding will be provided for nurses in all aspects of SANE training including online coursework through the International Association of Forensic Nurses, clinical skills training, clinical practice hours, certification, and continuing education. Additional support will be provided for continued professional development and to reduce psychosocial barriers related to retention of SANEs, as well as to encourage activities by project partners to seek funding and adopt practices to sustain the work of the project.

In 2016, there were 537 reported rapes in New Orleans. This was a rate of 135.2 rapes per 100,000 residents, which is 2.2 times the national average (City Data, 2018). Metro New Orleans also has a large LGBT population; sexual violence is higher in LGBT than in heterosexual individuals, on average, throughout the U.S. In addition to Orleans and Jefferson parishes, the project targets St. Mary, St. Charles, Terrebonne, Ascension, St. John the Baptist, Lafourche, St. James, Assumption, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard parishes.

All registered nurses (RNs) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) with an interest in becoming SANE-certified will be considered for participation. Priority in selection will be granted to certified/non-certified nurses who currently perform sexual assault examinations in their practice setting.           

According to the International Association of Forensic Nurses, for sexual assault nurse examiners, the Association offers two certifications—the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner - Adult/Adolescent (SANE-A®) and the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner - Pediatric (SANE-P®). Certification as a SANE-A® and/or SANE-P® signifies that a sexual assault nurse examiner has demonstrated the highest standards of forensic nursing practice.

“People who have experienced the trauma of a sexual assault need specialized care,” said Demetrius Porche, DNS, PhD, FACHE, FAANP, FAAN, professor and dean of LSU Health New Orleans School of Nursing. “SANE training prepares nurses to handle their unique needs and also properly collect evidence needed to apprehend or prosecute violent perpetrators. This project will not only contribute to the well-being of patients, but also to the safety of our communities.”