Student experience inspires Nurses for Survivors club

Student experience inspires Nurses for Survivors club

Students at first Nurses for Survivors club meeting with Center for Children & Youth Justice Task Force.

As an Emergency Room technician, Lauren Jensen, a first year BSN student, has seen many traumatized and vulnerable sexual assault and abuse survivors and worked alongside Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) certified nurses, those specifically trained to work with survivors.

SANE programs are designed to support sexual assault patients’ physical and mental wellbeing, as well as collect evidence for prosecution, according to the International Association of Forensic Nurses. Research has shown that patients who receive care from SANE nurses– have better outcomes and feel safer and more supported during their care.

But, Jensen said, SANE nurses aren’t always available when they are needed. As a survivor herself, she is passionate about advocating and helping survivors. So she decided to start a new club at UW, Nurses for Survivors. This club will educate UW nursing students on how to advocate for survivors of physical and domestic violence and sex trafficking.

“When I sought care, I felt supported, but felt the healthcare team could have been more sensitive to my feelings and emotions,” Jensen said.

Health care professionals without specialized training are not always sensitive and can make the victim feel unsupported and unsafe, she added. In starting this organization, she hopes students will learn how to spot signs of assault, treat and respond to survivors needs and create a safe space for them.

“Many times, healthcare professionals, particularly nurses are on the front lines caring for these patients but may not know how to create a safe space for them. I believe that it’s important, so the victim feels comfortable and supported,” Jensen said.

Nurses for Survivors officers left to right – Kaylee Anderson, Lisa Oh, Rin Gavin, Katie Kehler, Kimia Mirabbaszadeh and Lauren Jensen.

Jensen worked with Dr. Sarah Gimbel, UW assistant professor of Family and Child Nursing and co-Director of the Center for Global Health Nursing, to plan the club’s first event – a training with Center for Children and Youth Justice (CCYJ) Task Force. CCYJ is an organization whose mission is, “to create better lives for generations of children and youth by reforming the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.”

“We have amazing students like Jensen who are dedicated to making a difference in our community,” Gimbel said. “This club will help our future nurses meet a critical need for an extremely vulnerable population.”

After graduation, Jensen hopes to become a SANE nurse specializing in women’s health and psychiatric health. She hopes to work in an emergency room and plans to work towards a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.