Wisconsin Department of Justice

Wisconsin Department of Justice Medical/Forensic Program

The Medical/ Forensic Program provides training and technical assistance for healthcare providers, Nurses, SART and community members interested in creating Medical Forensic Programs. Medical/Forensic programs are programs that employ Nurses to care for patients who have suffered sexual assault. These programs are based on a national model and the National Protocol, which utilizes an interdisciplinary, community-based approach for the dignified and compassionate care and treatment of sexual assault patients.


Benefits of Medical/Forensic Programs

Health care providers are often the first responders for survivors of violence. Because of the time needed to assess and treat injuries, and collect physical evidence, it is cost-effective to have a cadre of medical/forensic examiners on call to provide this care. By ensuring that trained health care providers are available to perform the medical-forensic exam, the waiting period to receive care is minimized, trauma from the assault is reduced, the needs of the patient are attended to, and physical evidence is collected in a manner that meets state standards and promotes successful prosecution.


Physical evidence of a sexual assault is the most impactful evidence a prosecutor can introduce to a jury

The physical evidence collected and testified to by SANE programs is critically important to sexual assault prosecutions.  Physical evidence of a sexual assault is the most impactful evidence a prosecutor can introduce to a jury.  Sexual assault nurse examiners not only expertly collect this physical evidence, but do so using a well-established protocol that protects the integrity of the process.  And integrity of process is the bedrock upon which solid prosecutions are built. 



A Medical /forensic nurse is a nurse who provides specialized care for patients who are victims and/or perpetrators of trauma. The role of the Medical forensic nurses includes an understanding of violence and the systems work of advocacy and the legal system. The Medical/Forensic nurse has skills in injury identification, evaluation and documentation, and referral. After attending to a patient’s immediate medical needs, a forensic nurse often collects physical evidence, provides medical testimony in court, and consults with legal authorities. Most Wisconsin communities have SANE programs that serve several counties, as well as SANEs who perform exams on victims who travel from rural counties. There is a mobile SANE program that travels to victims in one of the most rural counties in Wisconsin.

specialized care encourages victims to seek help after an assault

SANE programs provide specialized medical care in the wake of a sexual assault that has the potential to devastate a victim’s mental and physical health for years to come.  At this most vulnerable time in a victim’s life, it is critical that the health care responder be a highly trained specialist prepared to both minister to the victim’s medical needs and to collect physical evidence in a sensitive but thorough manner.  Providing such specialized care encourages victims to seek help after an assault, and encouraging victims to seek help after an assault is good for the entire community.



Experts in the state created the Sexual Assault Examiner curriculum, which comprises a six-day training.  The recommendation for practice in Wisconsin is the completion of six days of didactic and clinical skills training, using educational guidelines established by the IAFN. Additional recommendations include the completion of clinical examinations, medical-forensic examinations and multi-disciplinary components.



Sexual assault forensic examiners perform the medical forensic exam, gather information for the medical forensic history, collect and document forensic evidence, and document pertinent physical findings from patients. They offer information, treatment, and referrals for sexually transmitted infections (STIs),and other nonacute medical concerns; assess pregnancy risk and discuss treatment options with the patient, including reproductive health services; and testify in court if needed. They coordinate with advocates to ensure patients are offered crisis intervention, support, and advocacy before, during, and after the exam process and encourage use of other victim services. They may follow up with patients for medical and forensic purposes. Other health care personnel who may be involved include, but are not limited to, emergency medical technicians, staff at hospital emergency departments, gynecologists, surgeons, private physicians, health care interpreters, and/or local, tribal, campus, or military health services personnel.




 I. Overview of Forensic Nursing and Sexual Violence

 II. Victim Responses and Crisis Intervention

 III. Collaborating with Community Agencies

 IV. Medicolegal History Taking

 V. Observing and Assessing Physical Examination Findings

 VI. Medicolegal Specimen Collection

 VII. Medicolegal Photography

 VIII. Sexually Transmitted Infection Testing and Prophylaxis

 IX. Pregnancy Testing and Prophylaxis

 X. Medicolegal Documentation

 XI. Discharge and Follow-up Planning

 XII. Courtroom Testimony and Legal Considerations



The WI Department of Justice SANE classes meet the learning objectives and educational guidelines of the International Association of  Forensic Nurses (IAFN).  The DOJ SANE courses implement the National Protocol for medical forensic exams for adult, adolescent and pediatric victims of abure published by the US Department of Justice.  The IAFN makes best practice recommendations based on current research.  Educational recommendations of the IAFN are encouraged to achieve best possible outcomes.  Once the course is complete, certificates are awarded.  **Nurses are NOT certified at time of course completion. **

For those who wish to become certified as SANEs, please visit www.forensicnurses.org for information on certification eligibility and testing requirements.  


DOJ SANE classes require: ​


1) The SANE course is intended for registered and advanced practice nurses.  The minimum licensure of practice is for registered nurses (RN), however, physician assistants and physicians may also receive SANE training.  


2) A SANE A course completion is a pre-requisite for the Pediatric training.  We do not cover the basic foundation of SANE knowledge in the SANE P course, but that foundation is necessary and is built upon in the SANE P course.  Proof of completion of a SANE A course will be required at registration.  


4) You MUST be present for the entire 46 hours of the SANE A course and entire 40 hours of the SANE P course to be awarded CEUs.  If you miss any portion of either class, the course is NOT complete.  


*No outside observations or recordings are allowed for any portion of SANE Adult or Pediatric SANE courses.


For 2019, the DOJ  will offer 2 more sessions of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Course: 1 Adult Basic SANE and 1 Pediatric Advanced Examiner Training. Completion of a Clinical Skills Lab is a required component of the WI DOJ 40 hour didactic Adult training. All Labs are held at Gundersen Hospital and Medical Center in La Crosse.  46 hours of Continuing Education Credits will be awarded at the completion of the Lab.


Trainings are scheduled as follows:


1) SANE - A: FULL. Closed.

     February 17 - 21, 2020 at Ascension Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare in Racine, WI (3801 Spring Street, 53405)

     Clinical Skills Lab - April 30, 2020


2) SANE - A: Registration Open http://www.cvent.com/d/dnq0r3

    March 30 - April 3, 2020 at Ascension St Clare's Hospital in Weston, WI (3400 Ministry Pkwy, 54476)

    Clinical Skills Lab - June 11, 2020


3) SANE - A: 

    September 14 - 18, 2020 at Gundersen Hospital and Medical Center in La Crosse, WI (1900 South Ave, 54601)

    Clinical Skills Lab - October 1, 2020


4) SANE - P: 

    October 26 - 30, 2020 at Thedacare Regional Medical Center in Appleton, WI (1818 N Meade St, 54911)

    No Clinical Skills Lab for SANE P




State SANE/Forensic Nurse Coordinators: 

Lori Thompson  MSN, APN, CPNP, AFN-BC                                                              

thompsonll@doj.state.wi.us or (608) 264-9497


Susan Kanack, BSN, RN, SANE-A

kanacksm@doj.state.wi.us or (608) 264-6214


For questions concerning registration for any of our trainings please contact Leah Varnadoe at varnadoela@doj.state.wi.us or (608) 266-0936.