Students call for sexual assault nurses

By Jessica Babb | Broadcast Managing Editor

Many students on campus have been advocating to get sexual assault nurse examiners at Baylor. These nurses can help those who have been sexually assaulted by performing forensic exams.

This issue played a prominent role during the student government presidential election, with both candidates willing to push the initiative. Additionally, Student Senate recently passed a bill to get sexual assault nurses at Baylor.

“I think it’s something we really need,” said San Antonio junior Paige Hardy, who authored the bill in Student Senate. “This is a really simple step to show the students that [administration is] working as best as they can and are exploring every option.

Despite student support for the initiative, there are many questions about the feasibility and plausibility of actually getting these nurses to campus.

“There are a lot of logistics that go into it,” said Sharon Stern, the medical director for Baylor Health Services.

Stern said in order to bring sexual assault nurse examiners to Baylor, there are major obstacles Baylor Health Services would have to overcome regarding facilities, personnel and money.

For instance, with facilities, the nurses would be performing forensic exams that can take anywhere from four to six hours to complete. The clinic currently does not have an extra exam room to spare, Stern said.

“We are very space-limited up here, and it would be very difficult to continue seeing the patients that we need to see if we closed one of our exam rooms,” Stern said.

Limitations with certified sexual assault nurse personnel pose other hurdles, too.

“We don’t have any nurse positions open,” Stern said. “The next step would be to see if there are any RNs (registered nurses) who have an interest in training.”

Stern said training RNs that are already on staff to be certified as a sexual assault nurse examiners can be expensive. From the time the nurses would spend in the classroom, to training, to observation, and even travel, the total cost can range anywhere $11,000 to $15,000, according to a cost estimate by a current sexual assault nurse in Waco. Stern said since the health services department is on a tight budget right now, that money would be significant.

While the Texas Attorney General’s office does offer some grants to help with the cost of training and certification, those grants are awarded to individuals and not institutions. So individual nurses could apply, but Baylor would not be eligible to receive them.

“We definitely want to do what is right for the Baylor students, so we will see what we can do to keep things moving,” Stern said.