About two months ago, my friend and colleague, SANE course director and Monmouth University Adjunct Professor, Eileen Allen told me that she was flying to Aracaju, Brazil to be a guest speaker at a conference and while she was there, she was going to found the first ever sexual assault nurse examiner program in the entire country. Eileen and I have worked together for decades and she asked if I would be interested in attending with her to set up the GTA side of the training. I didn’t even need to think about the answer, “yes! yes! yes!” I told her, and she began to work with the necessary contacts in Brazil to explore the possibilities.
Plans were set by the sponsors of the course and GTA training program, SOBEF, (Sociedad Brasileira de Enfermagem Forense or the Brazilian Society of Forensic Nursing) and Tiradentes University, and in the beginning of May, Eileen Allen and I traveled to Brazil. The conference, Congresso Internacional de Enfermagem, was a huge success and while Eileen Allen had several presentations, (I had the honor of joining her and a number of other colleagues in at least one presentation) the truly groundbreaking work was the first ever SANE course and the founding of the first ever forensic GTA program in Brazil.
What does that mean? In the United States, while the data is staggering in terms of numbers of women suffering sexual assaults, there is, for the most part, compassionate, empathetic response to victims of rape and sexual assault when they show up at an ER or clinic to have a sexual assault forensic evidence collection kit done. Colleagues of mine like Eileen Allen and Liana Hill among others, work diligently to ensure a high standard of compassionate care. These SANE course directors train other nurses who want to be SANEs, how to collect the specimens necessary for the kit and how to provide compassionate care as part of a SART, sexual assault response team. (Other members of the team include a victim’s advocate and law enforcement.)
In Brazil, there is nothing like this. No SANEs to provide the kind of care that SANEs in the US provide and absolutely no GTAs to provide the clinical skills instruction, review, live “model” simulation and speculum insertion practice. Nurses, who have a pretty tough time in Brazil, having to purchase their own supplies, even needles, to provide care to their patients, paid to take the SANE certification course with Eileen Allen. There were over 20 nurses who took the course. And, there were 13 trainees, all nurses, who volunteered to train as GTAs so that the services vital to success of SANE courses, could be provided.
I have literally set GTA programs up across this entire United States and internationally and never have I met a group of women so dedicated, who worked so hard and accomplished so much with so very little. These women literally learned the material in half the time of any other program I have set up, and supported one another through the grueling training process. Graduation rate is normally half given the difficult nature of the work and the long training hours. However, with these women……EVERY SINGLE TRAINEE GRADUATED! ALL THIRTEEN!!!!!!!
I am in awe of these women and all they accomplished. It is my dream to help their program survive. There is a new training program happening in Brazil for new SANEs in November of this year. While these women are volunteering their time, they cannot afford the airfare and hotel expenses. If you would like to help them continue the groundbreaking work they started, you can donate to make sure a team of them can get to the training site in November which will require flights for at least 9 team members. The total requested on the GoFundMe page includes funding towards a flight for the volunteer leader of the program to come to the United States to complete the training so that the program can thrive by working with medical schools. Currently, this GTA program is geared specifically towards sexual assault forensic evidence training. With the completion of the training, the work these women will be doing will include full clinical skills training beyond the forensic side of things. This will have the added benefit of improving health care for women across the entire country. Please help if you can…
My heartfelt thank you to everyone involved in this wonderful project and my congratulations, awe and appreciation to an extraordinary group of women doing some very extraordinary work. Congratulations SOBEF Forensic GTAs! love, Isle