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Pivotal TAMIU Nurse Training Program Certifies 8 Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Posted: 9/25/19

Pivotal TAMIU Nurse Training Program Certifies 8 Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners


Dr. Marivic Torregosa  

Laredo’s  chronic shortage of available Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners for adults and adolescents is being impressively addressed by a Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) program that has led to eight nurses being SANE-certified by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).

The program, the TAMIU Advance Nursing Education Sexual Assault Nursing Examiner (TAMIU ANE-SANE)  was made possible by a $1.17 million grant funded by the Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and announced at TAMIU by Congressman Henry Cuellar (’82) just last October.

TAMIU College of Nursing and Health Sciences Interim Dean Dr. Marivic Torregosa noted the growth in SANE nurses here is historic.

“It used to be that there was only one SANE nurse in Laredo serving more than 250,000 residents, an impossible task. Due to long waiting times, sexual assault victims could be transferred to facilities in Mission and Edinburg, 155 and 159 miles away, respectively. 

“Most certification programs take two years to complete, but the TAMIU ANE-SANE program, presented in partnership with community and external partners to help complete the requirements needed by trainees for certification, does so in less than one year.  These results are historic and will do much to help us increase the number of forensic nurses able to address the needs of sexual assault survivors in Laredo and surrounding communities,” Dr. Torregosa explained.

Congressman Cuellar said the TAMIU program is important to ensure survivors receive specialized care.

“Too many survivors of sexual assault do not have access to the proper medical professional or resources that they need because of where they live,” said Cong. Cuellar, “That’s why, as a member on the Appropriations Committee, I secured $1.17 million for TAMIU’s ANE-SANE Program to help address the chronic shortage of qualified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners in the region. Now, survivors no longer have to be transferred to a facility outside our community. I will continue to fund programs like TAMIU’s to ensure that every survivor receives specialized care—no matter where they live.”

TAMIU president Dr. Pablo Arenaz said the TAMIU ANE-SANE program results affirm the University’s and Dr. F. M. Canseco School of Nursing’s critical role in forging solutions to local health care challenges.

“We became aware of a troubling problem: the chronic SANE nurses’ shortage here. And we did what universities do…we stepped  forward to be the lead agent in forging a solution.  This is how we can fulfill our mission of creating responsive programs through community collaborations. This was further affirmed by this visionary federal grant supporting the program. The results are impressive and we’re proud of the addition of these healthcare specialists to our service region.  As we celebrate our 50th Anniversary, knowing that our impact continues to be far-reaching inspires us to do even more,” Dr. Arenaz said.

Rosario Benavides, TAMIU ANE-SANE program manager, explained its criteria for admission and  delivery.

“Practicing registered nurses, especially those working the emergency rooms and free-standing clinics in Webb County and surrounding communities, are eligible and are encouraged to join our SANE training, paid for by HRSA grant funds. Teaching is online while hands-on elements are conducted through simulation using live models and medium fidelity manikins. 

“Nurses complete a three-month program tightly focused on  behavioral health issues as well as the preservation of evidence. Successful program completion empowers these examiners to preserve evidence and help survivors at what is a most vulnerable time in their lives. “Unfortunately, not having SANE nurses is a critical issue across the nation, in many Texas communities…and Laredo is no exception. If examiners are not readily available, there are severe legal, medical and social implications that come into play,” Benavides noted.

“After completing the necessary requirements, trainees are eligible for CA-SANE certification from the OAG. They can then perform forensic nursing examinations on sexual assault victims and serve as an expert witness in court trials,” she added.

Community collaborative partners include Doctors Hospital of Laredo, Mercy Ministries of Laredo, Gateway Community Center, City of Laredo Health Department, Laredo Medical Center, Laredo Police Department, Webb County Sheriff’s Office, Children’s Advocacy Center, District Attorney’s Office, SCAN, Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates of Laredo, Advanced Institute for Women’s Health and TAMIU ANE-SANE trainers Lily Diaz, RN and Mel Jaimez, RN. 

Additionally, trainees are also placed in trauma centers across Texas in order to have supervised hands-on forensic nursing experiences. Auxiliary sites include Houston Methodist Willowbrook, Parkland Health and Hospital System, SAFE Alliance, Driscoll Children’s Hospital, Darnall Army Medical, UT Medical Branch, and Harris County Forensic Nurse Examiners. 

Torregosa said that her vision for the TAMIU ANE-SANE Program is fixed on five years in the future.

“This is a remarkable grant, three years in duration, which establishes the Canseco School of Nursing and the Grant’s leadership as nationally recognized training leaders in sexual assault health care.  But we are focused on the future. 

“We believe that by offering the program here in Laredo, a critical mass of SANE certified nurses can be achieved in the next five to six years. This regional increase of SANE nurses will provide a tremendous benefit to victims of sexual assault and help avoid potential loss of SANE nurses, due to burnout issues stemming from performing SANE duties in addition to regular work schedules.  We are committed to building a robust capacity of SANE trained nurses here that will positively impact  the medical and psychological well-being of sexual assault victims.  We hope it  will also reduce future sexual assaults as the judicial system will be better prepared to successfully convict perpetrators,” Torregosa concluded.

Recruitment for TAMIU ANE-SANE Program participants is ongoing. Inquiries can be directed to Rosario Benavides at

To see a video about the Program,  visit 

Additional University news and information is available online at, and from the University’s social media sites on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Throughout 2019-2020, TAMIU is celebrating its 50th anniversary and its 25th  anniversary at its north Laredo campus.  A dedicated website shares the University’s transformation from a hybrid upper-level university to a full doctoral degree-granting University. The website traces the University’s history, shares its impact in personal stories, and includes a calendar of Anniversary events and more at

For additional information, contact the TAMIU Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at 956.326.2180, email, click on or visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 268.

Grant Recipients for TAMIU ANE-SANE Program

TAMIU President Dr. Pablo Arenaz and Congressman Henry Cuellar hold grant check funding the TAMIU ANE-SANE Program when announced last October at TAMIU.  The Program trains and certifies registered nurses as sexual assault nurse examiners. Eight nurses have already been certified.



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