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2011 column image: 
2011 column title: 

Recognizing the Work of Forensic Nurses

2011 column date: 
Friday, November 4, 2011
2011 column text: 
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

MADISON — Solving almost any type of crime takes a team effort, and this week, November 7 through 11, 2011, marks a time to recognize our state's forensic nurses.


“Forensic Nurses Week” is organized by The International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), a nursing association representing more than 3,000 registered nurses, death investigators, other forensic medical professionals, correctional officers and law enforcement.


Forensic nurses care for victims and perpetrators of physical, psychological and social violence and abuse. They also provide nursing care, collect evidence and provide consultation in a variety of areas including: sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, death investigation, elder mistreatment, corrections, emergency services, mental health and public health. Forensic nurses are almost always the first responders to victims when they enter the healthcare system.


In Wisconsin, we embrace the practice of forensic nursing. Ten years ago, the Office of Justice Assistance (OJA) and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA) collaborated to provide statewide Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training. The goal of the SANE Program is to provide continuing education to nurses so they may deliver objective, collaborative, and comprehensive nursing care to their patients. In the last decade, more than 600 nurses have been trained and more than 40 communities have established SANE programs to care for victims of sexual violence.


At the Department of Justice (DOJ), through the Violence Against Women Resource Prosecutor (VAWRP) Project, we are working to promote a collaborative approach in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases. The VAWRP Project trains prosecutors on the importance of working with law enforcement, community partners, and SANE nurses in multi-disciplinary teams to enhance prosecution outcomes for victims. In addition, the DOJ Office of Crime Victim Services (OCVS) provides federal grant money to local SANE programs to ensure their sustainability.


I applaud the work of the forensic nurses and the care that they provide to crime victims.