U.S. Urged to Require Colleges to Publicize Availability of Nurse Examiners

July 22, 2014

Colleges should be required to inform sexual assault survivors that nurse examiners, both on campus and in nearby communities, are available to them, two senators told the U.S. Department of Education Monday.

Senators Mark Udall, a Democrat from Colorado, and Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, urged the department to include the requirement in the rules implementing the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act. The department already proposes that colleges and universities be required to provide students and faculty with notification about other counseling, health, mental health, victim advocacy, and legal assistance. 

"This common-sense addition will strengthen the current proposed rules and increase awareness of resources that are already present on campus or in nearby communities," the senators wrote in a letter. "In the tragic event of a sexual assault, it is critical that our students know who they can turn to and where they can go — providing information about access to forensic nurses will help accomplish this important goal."

Sexual assault nurse examiners, also known as forensic nurses, are often among the first people that survivors speak to following a sexual assault, Udall and McCaskill said, and -- in addition to administering rape kits -- they are an important piece in encouraging victims to seek other services. "If readily available and adequately trained, forensic nurses can serve as a critical resource for those seeking justice and starting the healing process," the senators wrote.

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