BALDWIN COUNTY, Ga. — These Georgia College nursing students will care for real people one day, but few will go on to get the training needed to treat patients who are victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Professor Josie Doss submitted a grant into a federal health administration to start a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program at Georgia College's School of Nursing.

"When victims receive care from especially trained nurse, that's trained to take care of sexual assault victims, they have better long-term and short-term outcomes. There's a very few number of people who are actually trained in that specialized care," Doss said.

Shantee Henry, who went through the training at another school, helped land the grant.

"Intricate details about how to actually collect evidence and care for people. The whole process was new to me, but I learned a lot," she said.

"We have to make sure we gather forensic information in a manner that will help with prosecution along the way and we also have to make sure we're paying attention to not just to physical injuries but to psychological injuries that the victims may have sustained during an attack," Doss said.

The 3-year grant covers the cost of tuition for the semester-long course. 

Last year, 16 registered nurses completed the program -- this year, about 25 are enrolled.

"The purpose of the grant was to be able to improve or increase the numbers of trained sexual assault nurse examiners throughout the state and throughout the nation," Doss said.

Before the program began in 2018, Doss says there were 2 Sexual Assault Nurse examiners in Baldwin County. 

Henry says it's a fairly new practice, but needed in rural areas.

"The long-term effects of providing the right care for trauma care victims makes an impact for the rest of their lives," Henry said.

Nurses need 300 clinical practice hours to complete the course.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners are also trained to be expert witnesses for the prosecution in sexual assault cases.

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