Q&A: Caitlyn Lecrone, A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner

Caitlyn Lecrone, RN, SANE-A, has always had an interest in caring for victims of sexual assault—and she recognizes the great responsibility that comes with such a role. So, she enrolled in the Duquesne University School of Nursing SANE-Adult/Adolescent Training Program to help her prepare for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) certification.

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 (IAFN). After certification, nurses may continue to participate in ongoing education and mentoring.

painting of woman's body with handprint over lower abdomen
This piece was created for Sexual Assault Awareness month.

Caitlyn’s passion for this particular patient population extends beyond her professional development. She has also been inspired to create awareness art pieces, including paintings with acrylic paint, photography and digital/mixed media.

In the following Q&A, Caitlyn discusses her work as a SANE, her art and the certification process.

Why did you decide to pursue SANE certification?

Before becoming an RN, I always wanted to find a path where I could care for this patient population. I was fortunate to be steered onto the forensic path early in my career. After attending forensics training and being promoted into a leadership role, I knew I needed to immerse myself in this field.

This role is a lot of responsibility, and these patients deserve more than what has been taken away from them. When preparing for and receiving my SANE certification, I gained more knowledge on how to properly care for those affected by sexual assault.

Why did you choose the Duquesne University SANE Training Program?

I was already performing sexual assault examinations but knew I needed more education and experience. This program was able to provide hands-on learning and immediate feedback. I was exposed to an amazing network of professionals who are experts in this field. It was refreshing to find a program that has a wealth of knowledge waiting to be learned and mentors who pass along their experiences.

Did you feel well prepared for the certification exam?

As with any exam, I always fear the unknown. I followed the directions of the program and attended further educational sessions. I reached out and asked questions while performing exams at my workplace. The exam was intimidating, but I trusted the process and felt confident in my answers. It wasn’t a “What if I fail?” mindset but more of a “What can I learn now?” mindset.

Caitlyn Lecrone headshot
Caitlyn Lecrone, RN, SANE-A

What have you been doing since you received SANE certification?

I am a SANE program coordinator at the Penn State Health Holy Spirit Medical Center, where I currently lead my organization’s SANE program and train new team members. This role allows me to mentor our team of 5-7 SANE nurses, and I am in the process of recruiting many more.

Our team has taken great strides in furthering our education and learning more about this topic; it is amazing to be part of team of nurses who want to do more and provide better care to this population. We have taken our small program and are expanding it by recruiting nursing staff across different departments and trying to raise awareness of this topic.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to continue on a path of forensics and raise more awareness of sexual assault. I want my community to know about the resources available and for these patients to realize they are not alone.

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

Invest in yourself and further your career. Becoming certified gives back to your community and allows you to provide services to those who need it most.

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

Duquesne’s training program gave me more confidence in my role as a SANE. It provided me with more education and guidance, which has helped me with my assessments and care of sexual assault patients.

What part of the program do you find most helpful?

I really appreciated the willingness of my mentors to answer questions and give me guidance. I have been able to discuss concerns and find solutions. The best takeaway, for me, was the Clinical Preceptor Course (CPC) hands-on examination with a live actor. We were able to perform an exam and get immediate feedback from both the “victim” and the expert SANE. I was able to learn how I came across to the “victim” and ways to assess better.

painting of a woman on strings, like a puppet
“Rape Culture”

What has inspired you to create your artwork?

“Art is not always about pretty things. It’s about who we are, what happened to us, and how our lives are affected.” –Elizabeth Broun

My pieces have dual meanings. They are meant to be painfully beautiful. The people they portray are beautiful despite the pain they’ve experienced.

What do you hope to accomplish with your artwork?

I love how art can make someone feel something. My intent for my awareness pieces is to provoke people into being better or doing better. People avoid topics that are taboo or disturbing. I want people to act. I want to give a voice to those victims who had theirs taken away. Those who have been affected by sexual assault deserve more. If my artwork can even move one person into making one change, it’s had the effect I hoped for.

Disclaimer

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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