Governor signs Mosbrucker bill to increase sexual assault nurse examiner education in Eastern Washington

With a stroke of his pen, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a measure into law Thursday morning that will expand training opportunities for sexual assault nurse examiners online and at Washington State University’s College of Nursing.

Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, prime sponsor of House Bill 1622, says this legislation is a way to address a serious shortage of sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) across the state in rural and underserved areas, particularly in Eastern Washington.

“SANE nurses play a critical role in the detailed forensic investigations necessary to prosecute sex crimes. Up until recently, the only SANE training available in Washington state has been at Harborview Medical Center. This bill breaks down barriers and will expand training to the east side of the Cascades and increase access to rural areas,” said Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale.

House Bill 1622 requires the Washington State University College of Nursing to establish a SANE training program with three elements:

  • Online training to provide nurses in rural and underserved communities access to at least 40 hours of training;
  • A clinical training site at the WSU College of Nursing with clinical training requirements established by the U.S. Department of Justice; and
  • Scholarships for nurses to complete the training.

In addition, the bill sets up a regional SANE leader pilot program through the WSU College of Nursing. Under the program, the college must develop and train lead SANEs and assist in the development of support mechanisms and role requirements for regional lead SANEs.

“When someone sexually assaulted comes to the hospital for help, SANE nurses are the only ones qualified to accurately and effectively perform rape kit exams. They are trained on how to provide a higher rate of care, a higher DNA rate, how to document injuries, and how to testify in court. If a hospital does not have this specially trained nurse, victims either must be sent to a different hospital for assistance, or the evidence may not be professionally collected, ultimately allowing a perpetrator to never face justice,” said Mosbrucker, ranking Republican on the House Public Safety Committee.

“Sexual assault survivors are enormously traumatized when they come to the hospital. We want to make sure they are not further traumatized by having to wait hours for a SANE nurse, or being sent away to another hospital. Every victim should be able to receive care at a local hospital with access to a qualified SANE,” added Mosbrucker.

Mosbrucker says the WSU College of Nursing is already prepared to begin its first training in Spokane. She also expects training to expand in the future into Central Washington, including Yakima.

The 14th District lawmaker added that she was also able secure $680,000 in the state supplemental operating budget to establish a SANE stipend program. Under the program, licensed nurses could receive reimbursement of up to $2,500 to cover eligible expenses when they train to become a certified SANE nurse.

House Bill 1622 is one of five Mosbrucker bills approved by the state Legislature and sent to the governor. It is the first of the five to be signed into law by Gov. Inslee. The others are expected to be signed within the next week.


Washington State House Republican Communications