Q&A: Shawnese Gordon, A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner

headshot of Shawnese Gordon

Shawnese Gordon, MSN, RN, SANE-A, CST, believes she has found her purpose in life as a forensic nurse. For Shawnese, who works at the MetroHealth System in Cleveland, Ohio, pursuing SANE certification became a personal goal. “Once I became SANE trained, I immediately realized that I wanted to become SANE certified,” she says.

To help her prepare for certification, Shawnese enrolled in the Duquesne University School of Nursing SANE-Adult/Adolescent Training Program.

Funded by a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant, Duquesne’s ANE-SANE-Adult/Adolescent Program provides advanced nurse education to increase the number of Registered Nurses who are trained and SANE certified. The program focuses on increasing service to rural and medically underserved areas and areas with a shortage of SANEs. At completion of the program, nurses apply and test for certification through the International Association of Forensic Nurses. After certification, nurses may continue to participate in ongoing education and mentoring.

In this Q&A, Shawnese shares about her experiences in the program as well as her experiences as a forensic nurse.

Why did you choose the Duquesne University SANE Training Program?

I heard about Duquesne University through a colleague of mine. After I researched the program, I felt Duquesne was a good fit for me.

Did you feel well prepared for the certification exam?

Yes, I felt well prepared for the certification exam.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan on becoming a professor for a Forensic Nurse program and help as many nurses achieve their goal of not only becoming a forensic nurse but SANE certified as well.

What would you say to someone who is considering becoming SANE certified?

You can do it! There may be minor setbacks along the way but do not let that deter you from reaching your ultimate goal of becoming SANE certified.

How has the Duquesne University SANE Training Program helped you improve your care to patients of sexual assault?

Everyone has a purpose in life; I believe this is my purpose, to help others in their time of need. I give my patients my undivided attention and listen to them. It may be times when I may sit for an hour or so with my patient in complete silence, my presence may be enough for them at that time.

What part of the program do you find most helpful?

The entire program is awesome. The monthly educational sessions helped a lot. I also reached out to a mentor, Cheryl, who helped me tremendously.

Participation in this program helped me become more aware of my patients’ needs. Everyone handle things differently and everyone’s needs are different from the next person. Once you realize that, you will be a great help to your patient. Hearing my patients tell me, “You are the only person who listens to me” or “Thank you for everything,” means a lot. It gives me a reason to keep going.


The Duquesne University School of Nursing SANE-Adult/Adolescent Training Program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,469,650 with no financing by non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

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