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New program aims to double nurses specialized in treating survivors of sexual violence in MI

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By 2024, Michigan State University wants to nearly double the number of qualified nurses who can assess and treat survivors of sexual violence.

In Michigan, fewer than 200 nurses have their Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) certification.

A $1.4 million federal grant is funding a three-year program to bring that training to more nurses around the state.

MSU Professor Rebecca Campbell said the training is trauma-informed so nurses can better care for survivors of sexual violence. Campbell wrote the grant for the project. 

“We only have currently about 175 [SANE] nurses in the state of Michigan. And they're not evenly distributed over our 83 counties, we really only have nurses in about 22 of our 83 counties," she added.

For Campbell, having these nurses out in the field is vital in the healing journey for survivors.

“So we really need to focus on making sure that survivors and all of those other communities, many of which are rural communities, who don't have access to this kind of health care, that there are nurses in those communities, have this kind of training and can give victims what they need after they've been assaulted," she said.

Campbell will serve as the evaluator of the program. She said she wants to ensure access is as barrier free as possible. 

"What some of those grant dollars wil go for is actually helping the nurses financially complete this training," she said. "The grant pays for some of the training and for transportation to the clinical sites. We're really trying to remove as many barriers as we can for the nurses to seek the training." 

The program begins early next year and will train an additional 130 nurses already employed in communities across the state.