Pitt State grant to give more nurses access to sexual assault training 

More registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses in Kansas will be trained to work as sexual assault examiners, thanks to a federal grant and a program started by Pittsburg State University that has continued to grow. 

The $1.5 million grant, awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration to Pitt State’s Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing, will fund three additional years of training. 

It’s the third time the university has been awarded the grant since 2018. The program it funds, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, or “SANE,” began with Crawford, Cherokee, and Bourbon counties. In 2021, a second cycle of grant funding expanded the program to all 105 counties in Kansas. 

“SANEs” are registered nurses who have completed specialized education and clinical preparation in the medical forensic care of patients who have experienced sexual assault or physical abuse. 

“Prior to Pitt State’s program, there was just one SANE to serve all of Crawford County and none in 80 percent of Kansas counties,” said Director Amy Hite, who has been involved since the inception and wrote all three grant applications. “The demand exceeds the number of forensic nurses in Kansas and many who need care are one to three hours from the services they desperately need.”  

This new round of funding will allow the School of Nursing to include SANE training in advanced nursing degrees, including the Master of Nursing and Doctorate of Nurse Practice in Forensic Nursing leadership. These graduate degrees currently are not available in Kansas. 

The university also has partnered with the Kansas Coalition for Sexual and Domestic Violence, the University of Kansas Medical Center, and Hays Med to provide free courses in Kansas through 2027. The goal, said Hite, is to train 45 nurses each year. 

In addition to the training, funding will help purchase equipment that can be used not only for sexual assault examinations, but in other forms of medical care, and it will provide access to a therapist for nurses who conduct such examinations. 

“Nationally, the turnover is very high,” said Hite, who also works as an Emergency Department Nurse Practitioner. “It’s a stressful job, and we want to support their resilience, retention, and prevent burn-out because of the toll it takes on their physical and mental health.” 

Funding also will pay for membership in the Kansas Forensic Nursing Organization so that nurses can attend national conferences to learn current best practices. 

“This is especially helpful to smaller, rural programs that ordinarily don’t have funds for professional development,” Hite said. 

The impact of SANE training over the years cannot be measured, Hite said. 

“I get cards from people who say if it weren’t for this program, they wouldn’t have the ability to do this, and it’s truly changed lives,” Hite said. “Pitt State is valued for SANE leadership across the state. This is about helping Kansas and helping our communities.”

Learn more:

Pitt State SANE Program