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Pennsylvania State University is using telecommunications technologies to help train nurses for providing better care to sexual assault victims. The Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Telehealth (SAFE-T) Center connects experienced professionals with nurses and health care professionals in training for sexual assault care, while providing patients with crucial help.
The SAFE-T Center is helping provide better access to sexual assault care in underserved communities across the state. The center, now set up at three partner sites across Pennsylvania, was launched three years ago with funding from the Office for Victims of Crime in the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Having a forensic exam performed with expert nursing assistance in a safe, supported environment can be the first step toward healing,” said Sheridan Miyamoto, assistant professor of nursing at Penn State and director of the SAFE-T Center. “Every victim deserves expert care, and every nurse deserves support in providing that care.”
Merging Forensics and Healthcare
Forensic nursing is crucial to helping care for sexual assault survivors. Forensic nurses are trained in very specialized areas like forensic evidence and collection, and additionally learn how to work with the legal system, in order to interact and present evidence in courtroom cases. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, forensic nursing is expected to grow by 26% in the next ten years.
Jocelyn Anderson, a forensic nurse and researcher at Penn State, also works with the SAFE-T Center and knows how crucial the work of a forensic nurse and sexual assault nurse is. As she shared with Penn State News, research shows that patients receiving care from specifically trained nurses are more likely to receive appropriate care and medication, and have a sexual assault kit properly collected. This means the likelihood of having their criminal case move forward increases, and the experience is not as traumatic for patients with forensically trained health care professionals.
Jane French, a clinical coordinator at the SAFE-T Center, manages a team of expert sexual assault nurse examiners and local nurses. She helps ensure that the patients are cared for and that the staff are fully supported and confident in their work.
“Sexual assault exams can be technically and emotionally difficult, and staff who perform them may be difficult to retain,” French said. “The SAFE-T Center offers quality assurance, peer support, mentorship and on-demand training to help nurses feel confident that they are doing a good job.”
For more information on the SAFE-T Center, click here to visit their website.
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