Auburn University Nurses Certified as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners

All six nurses at the school's medical clinic volunteered to complete the certification, which allows them to perform forensic exams for students.
Published: February 3, 2020

Money raised by Auburn University’s Student Government Association (SGA) has been used to certify campus nurses as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE).

Nurses working at the Alabama school’s medical clinic can now perform forensic exams on men, women and transgender people to gather evidence of sexual assault and provide treatment and medication to prevent the spread of STDs, reports The Auburn Plainsman. All five nurses at the clinic volunteered to complete the certification.

“Having five fully trained SANE nurses in a building at one time is truly a unique situation that is actually going to be a luxury,” said Lisa Harmon, nursing manager at the clinic. “Every nurse here was completely on board and excited to do it because they want to provide the service for the students.”

Since Jan. 21, Auburn students have been able to be treated confidentially from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays at no cost. The forensic exams take four hours to complete, so there is a 2 p.m. cutoff in order to fit within the clinic’s regular hours, according to Frederick Kam, the clinic’s medical director. Students who need to be tested during off-hours have access to SANE nurses around the clock at the East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC), he added.

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The idea to certify campus nurses came after the SGA requested it for students who are unable to get to EAMC due to distance or other possible reasons. Prior to the new program’s implementation, EAMC was the closest place students could go to receive a forensic exam.

According to a Nov. article from The Auburn Plainsman’s editorial board, the university said it could not fund the program for the first three years due to budget constraints. The SGA set up a donation page with the goal of raising a minimum of $36,000 to fund the first three years. You can donate to the program here.

“Hopefully, having six nurses in Auburn, near campus, who are trained to administer these exams and console survivors, will encourage more people who have been sexually assaulted to go receive treatment or possibly report the crime to authorities,” read the article.

Under the new program, when a sexual assault victim goes to the clinic, they are able to use kiosks to report their assault. A nurse is then assigned to the patient and that individual is their only patient for the next four hours. Evidence collected during the exam is then stored in a confidential location so victims will have a body of evidence to support them should they choose to report the assault to police.

Students are also informed about available resources, including Safe Harbor, Rape Counselors of East Alabama and student counseling services.

In Alabama, there is a 72-hour window to receive a forensic exam. Allison Kennedy, a SANE-certified nurse at EAMC, said most of the patients treated through EAMC’s SANE program wait 12 hours or longer to report their assault.

Kennedy will assist the school’s clinic in the first few months of the program.

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