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How To Become A SANE Nurse

SANEs are highly-paid nurses that work in a very challenging sector of forensic nursing. It's a profession on the rise and despite its challenges, the difference that it makes to the lives of abuse and trauma victims makes it a very rewarding profession.

But what is a SANE nurse, where do they work, and how much do they earn?

What is a SANE Nurse?

SANE stands for "Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner". SANEs are experienced and highly qualified forensic nurses who assist patients that have experienced sexual assault.

A sexual assault occurs once every 68 seconds in the United States, which means there are a lot of abuse survivors who need the services of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners.

Furthermore, there is currently a shortage of SANEs in the United States, so victims don't always get the level of care that they need. It also means that there is a huge gap to fill for qualified forensic nurses who wish to assist victims of sexual abuse.

What Does a SANE Nurse Do?

In the first instance, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner may meet with an abuse victim to conduct a forensic exam. SANEs are forensic nurses, and so they are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to conduct a thorough exam and to consider both the physical and verbal evidence.

Once they have gathered information, they may be required to provide evidence in court or otherwise assist law enforcement with their duties.

A SANE nurse may also be tasked with performing the following duties:

  • Performing interviews with victims of sexual assault
  • Providing emotional support for victims
  • Performing medical triage
  • Consulting on sexual assault cases
  • Counseling the victim or referring them to a counselor
  • Obtaining forensic specimens for documentation

SANEs, like all nurses, perform very important roles within their communities, and as forensic nurses, they work closely with law enforcement and the legal system.

How Does a SANE Gather Evidence?

A SANE uses something known as a Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit to gather physical evidence following a sexual assault. Colloquially known as a "rape kit", this kit is used to collect and record DNA evidence and to inspect the genital area.

The SANE nurse will also take pictures of bruises and other injuries. The goal is to provide a clear picture of the incident so that it can be used to create a case against the offender.

As you can imagine, it is a very sensitive job and one that requires a lot of compassion and a great deal of sensitivity.

Where do SANEs Work?

SANEs work in a variety of healthcare and legal settings, including hospitals, government facilities, crisis centers, justice centers, and urgent care centers.

What Is a Sexual Assault Response Team?

A Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is a coalition of agencies dedicated to serving sexual assault victims. A SART is typically composed of victim advocates, law enforcement, SANEs, prosecutors, scientists, and other individuals tasked with assisting sexual assault victims.

SARTs work together to create guidelines for victim support while ensuring that offenders are always held accountable for their actions.

How To Become A SANE Nurse

If you want to become a SANE nurse, you must follow these steps:

Step One: Get Your Degree

The first step is to acquire an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). The former will take you two years to complete and the latter runs for 4 years.

Step Two: Pass the Registered Nurse (RN) Exam

Once you have completed your studies, it's time to get a registered nurse (RN) license. For this, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

The exam costs $200 and is conducted over 6 years. You will be given the results online approximately 2 days after completing the exam. If you pass, you're ready for the next step.

Step Three: Gain Experience

SANE nurses are required to have at least 2 years of experience. You'll need to work in a clinical setting throughout that time, picking up valuable experience that will help you to become a better nurse.

Step Four: Take a Sexual Assault Examiner Class

Once you have your experience, you must complete a Sexual Assault Examiner Class, which consists of 40 hours of clinical work and 40 hours of learning.

Step Five: Become Certified

The final step is to apply for SANE certification. There are two options here, the SANE-P for pediatrics and the SANE-A for adults.

Both are supplied by the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN).

How Much Do SANE Nurses Make?

A Registered Nurse can expect to earn about $75,000 per year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, there are a number of factors that influence this salary, including the skill level of the SANE and their location.

As with other nursing professions, the money paid to a SANE varies greatly from one state to the next, with California, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Alaska offering some of the highest average salaries.

Summary: Becoming a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner

Are you ready to become a SANE? Is this the right profession for you? If so, it's time to take those first steps and start studying your way toward this lucrative and important career.

find nursing schools near you

find nursing schools near you