Recruiting New SANEs

Trust me when I tell you that this will be the 1st of many conversations we're going to have about recruitment here at the Sustainability blog. Although I wouldn't call myself an expert on the subject, I would say that I have learned quite a bit in the 2 years since this project was born. One of the most important thing I have learned is this: all the literature out there on nursing recruitment (and retention, for that matter), really doesn't apply. For relevant information you need to look to the volunteer literature.

Very few SANEs make a full time living in forensics--most of them are working other jobs and volunteering time on a schedule above and beyond their work hours. Yes, they get paid to do cases, and many of them get call pay, as well. But the pay received doesn't compensate for some of the intangibles: missing a kid's soccer game; having to take 2 cars to dinner in case the pager goes off; putting off vacations because there's no one else to take call. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

I know that victim advocates have many of the same issues as SANEs regarding interrupted family lives and lost vacation opportunities. And really, that's my point. The resources we're using to inspire creative and effective recruitment of advocates may also work for SANEs. In working with the project's consultants, we've mined a fair amount of that literature. I've written on the topic here on the NSVRC web site, but I'd like to highlight a few more online resources:

Will you be able to adopt the information in these resources wholesale? Definitely not. But, many of the ideas contained in them can be adapted for our purposes and implemented immediately or filed away for future use. And the sites listed above are only a sampling of the many offerings out there on volunteer recruitment.

Do you have tips for recruitment that have worked for your program? Please share them with us in the Comments section!


Submitted by kimday on

How to recruit: that is the question!
One common theme that seems to come up with relative frequency, is that nurses who are looking for a change and choose to become a SANE because they are unhappy with nursing in general, do not last. They may complete initial training and then not complete the clinical portion, or never complete the training, or finish it all and then just never take call....various manifestations, but, you get the idea, they never produce. If there were a magic interview tool or recruitment method, that would be very welcome, I think! I had some thought that the Virtual Practicum might be a good way to give an idea of what's ahead....but don't know if anyone has been using it for "pre-screening".

Submitted by Valorie Prulhiere on

03/26/2009 -- Valorie Prulhiere New
I had to smile as I read
I had to smile as I read Jen's comment. My husband and I just took 2 cars to dinner last week because I was on call. Hopefully this conversation will be lively. Every program has to deal with the recruitment issue at one time or another. So, briefly, here's a couple of things I'm doing in my program.

Contract: Nurses may sign a contract to work with the program for one year and receive the training at no cost. The year begins when the nurse is independent on the call schedule. If the nurse chooses to leave before the year is up, she must pay the training registration fee PLUS interest. If the program removes the nurse during the contract period, the nurse is not financially responsible for the cost of training. The nurse really has nothing to lose (except the interest amount) and the SANE program gains a team member or financial compensation for training. It's a win-win.

Pre-Training Shadowing: In an attempt to provide potential SANEs with a "real" taste of what the job is like, I arrange for nurses to shadow an experienced SANE complete an exam (with the patient's permission of course). Not only does this help reduce misconceptions about the job, but nurses who have shadowed a case prior to training seemed to self-identify as team members even during SANE training.

I'm looking forward to reading more on this.
Warm regards to all.

Submitted by EliseJTurner on

I think we have erred in the past by presenting SANE work as "not-nursing" and more exciting "CSI" work, and cast the SANE in the detective role. So no wonder nurses are initially attracted then disappointed, when it turns out they are still doing nursing. For those who take on a new "investigator" role, they become both a poorly functioning nurse as well as an untrained detective. The worst of both worlds!

We are trying hard to change the emphasis in our SANE program to emphasize nursing, and spend a good chunk of time on the first day of the SANE course talking about the joys of nursing standards, nursing process, and nursing professionalism. We put the activities of a typical case within the framework of the nursing process, and are working now on a "typical" nursing care plan for the adult victim of sexual assault. We are also working on developing new nursing diagnoses that are a better fit for how forensic nurses provide assessment and care.

Submitted by jmarkowitz on

I agree, Elise. We've really worked hard to keep our course nursing-focused, as well. And to make sure people understand the reality of the role, by doing, as Val mentioned in her comment, things like having them shadow an experienced SANE before the course, in order to allow them to get an accurate sense of the gig. We've found it makes a huge difference. I know there are others doing this, as well (because I think we lifted the idea immediately upon hearing someone mention it)...