Providence forensic nurses cares for patients and community

Providence forensic nurses care for patients and community

forensic nurse with camera

In April 2022, Providence Oregon launched the forensic nurse examiner program that expands the role of our sexual assault nurse examiners who respond when patients are in need of support, compassion and expertise at our facilities.

Forensic nurse examiner nurses respond to sexual abuse cases, and now also violent crimes like strangulation, gunshot wounds and stabbings, as well as neglect, human trafficking and all forms of domestic violence. They work with law enforcement, advocates and the judicial system. They also train other nurses to do it all, as well.

The job is complex, but the objective is clear: Care for patients experiencing unspeakable trauma, while also working to make sure others don’t have to go through similar pain.

“We’re working on putting ourselves out of a job,” says Katie Schafer, RN, forensic nurse examiner program supervisor. “We want to make sure our communities are safer.”   

Providence has been committed to making this program a reality, even as the pandemic posed serious logistical challenges for implementation, training and retention.

“Even when COVID was happening, Providence kept moving forward with this model, because aligned with our Mission of helping the poor and vulnerable,” she says. “It’s just a testament to us living our Mission.”

Helene Anderson, regional director of capacity and throughput, says the idea for the program began as an aspiration to provide services that meet the spirit of Providence’s Mission.

“Sadly, the incidence of sexual assault, strangulation and trafficking is on the rise – we knew we this would serve our patients with a more connected experience.” Helene says.