Pilot program offers nurses forensic training

Published: Apr. 5, 2019 at 10:52 PM AKDT
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A brand new Anchorage-based program is helping nurses get forensic training to be able to better identify incidents of violence experienced by incoming patients.

The program is the culmination of months of hard work, with a lead developer finally getting the green light for it last November.

"Many of our communities have programs for sexual assault response, but that doesn't allow for responses for domestic violence or strangulation or elder abuse," said Angelia Trujillo, who is with the University of Alaska Anchorage School of Nursing and is one of the founders of the multi-pronged program. "While we recognize there are opportunities to train as a sexual assault examiner, there wasn't a training for needs for kind of a generalist response to violence across the lifespan."

Trujillo said her mission came about in part due to what she's seen throughout her career, as well as some disturbing statistics.

According to

, which is headed by Executive Director and Trujillo's fellow program endorser L. Diane Casto, 75 percent of Alaskans have experienced or know someone who has experienced domestic violence or sexual assault; an assault occurs, on average, once an hour in our state; and the rate of elder abuse in Alaska is 2.4 times the national rate.

Those numbers, though, are only the beginning.

"Only about 1 in 10 report," Trujillo said, referring to victims of sexual assault. "The numbers are even higher for child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse and strangulation. So we don't know how bad the problem actually is. What we do know is they're being seen in our facilities, and we want the ability to help them get justice."

Enter the

, as it's been named, which brings a variety of these various trainings together in a format that hasn't been seen before.

The training consists of 20 to 25 hours of online training and 20 to 25 hours of hands-on training. The first hands-on section of the course is being held at UAA in May. The campus was a great setup already, Trujillo said, because the School of Nursing already has simulations and registered professionals available to help with instruction.

To learn more about or get involved with the program, head over to