WSU College of Nursing now offers specialized training to care for sexual assault victims

Vicki Sattler, left, an adjunct faculty member at the WSU College of Nursing, is leading the college's new Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training program. WSU's program was made possible by a 2022 change in state law that expanded the number of SANE training providers in Washington.
Vicki Sattler, left, an adjunct faculty member at the WSU College of Nursing, is leading the college's new Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training program. WSU's program was made possible by a 2022 change in state law that expanded the number of SANE training providers in Washington.

The Washington State University College of Nursing is offering specialized training for nurses to care for victims of sexual assault.

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training teaches nurses how to interview victims, how to evaluate and document injuries, and how to collect evidence that can be used in court.

WSU’s program was made possible by a 2022 state law that expanded SANE training providers. Previously, Harborview Medical Center in Seattle was the only provider of SANE training in the state.

Vicky Sattler, an adjunct faculty member at the College of Nursing and an emergency room nurse, said increasing the availability of SANE training helps ensure that assault victims get the same level of care no matter where they are in the state.

“If I’m going to take care of a trauma patient in a hospital ER, I need to have gone through a trauma nurse course curriculum. If I’m going to do advanced cardiac life support, there’s a whole training I have to do for that. It makes sense that if we’re asking people to do a sexual assault exam we are also holding that high standard of care,” she said.

WSU’s SANE courses are accredited by the International Association of Forensic Nurses. A 40-hour, online course will be ready soon, Sattler said. It covers the basics of trauma-informed care and the legal aspects of sexual assault exams. WSU has already hosted two-day clinical skills classes that are the second part of SANE training. These in-person sessions are offered in Spokane, and next year, in Central Washington. Nurses who take the course practice doing exams on teaching assistants, a requirement for IAFN accreditation.

Sattler said WSU and Harborview are not competing to offer SANE training and have instead collaborated on expanding the opportunities for nurses to take classes.

“We’re all worried about the survivors of sexual assaults,” Sattler said. “Whatever we can do to make sure all nurses have the best possible training is where we come down.”

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