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First-of-its-Kind Trauma-Informed Care Simulation Series Will Help Train Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Across Minnesota

Amy Leslie

Pilot training also aims to advance transgender health care

M Simulation recently piloted a new training on trauma-informed interviewing to help prepare sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) to care for patients who have experienced sexual assault or abuse.

The simulation training is part of the Advanced Nursing Education-Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners program, which aims to double the number of SANEs in Minnesota, particularly in rural and under-resourced communities. 

To develop the training, collaborators began by scripting a simulated patient. To do this Lou Clark, PhD, MFA, executive director of M Simulation, interviewed Sarah Hoffman, PhD, MPH, MSN, RN, assistant professor in the School of Nursing, about her clinical experiences as a SANE in order to design a simulated case scenario involving a transgender patient. The goal was to create a simulated case in which learners could practice a trauma-informed approach to taking a history from a recently sexually assaulted patient. 

SPs play a critical role in advancing health care education and training. They are trained by M Simulation SP educators to simulate real-life clinical experiences by portraying individuals with specific medical conditions, concerns, and histories. In collaborating with standardized patients, M Simulation provides learners with experiential practice in simulated settings safe for all participants involved prior to their entering or re-entering real-world clinical settings.

“In this particular training when we’re dealing with trauma-informed learning scenarios like a simulated sexual assault interview, it’s of utmost importance that we create a safe space that’s comfortable for the SPs as well as our learners,” Clark said. “Because transgender people have a greater vulnerability for discrimination and violence, the willingness of our SPs in this scenario to take on the mindset of people who experience sexual assault and make themselves vulnerable is highly valuable and inspiring.” 

One trainee, a nurse from rural Minnesota who participated in the pilot simulation training to expand her skills as a forensic nurse, reflected afterward, “The SPs are spot on; I completely forgot this person was an actor. The M Simulation staff was wonderful, and I can’t wait until the next simulation training.”

M Simulation staff and colleagues are currently completing work on the training curriculum with the expectation of making it available more broadly—including for continuing professional development—later this year. 

“M Simulation is handling challenging health care situations that health professionals don’t encounter that often, but when they do, they need to provide excellent care. M Simulation does a tremendous job supporting SPs in preparing for and acting out traumatic scenarios,” said Carolyn Porta, PhD, RN, SANE, FAAN, who is the principal investigator of the HRSA-funded Advanced Nursing Education-Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners training grant. “This new simulation is instrumental for our continuing professional development efforts to train health professionals to meet the needs of patients in their communities.”

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