Monday, March 28, 2005

Intimate Partner Violence, Forensic Nursing & The Harrowing Day

Today was a harrowing day. Our first class dealt with developing and interpreting statistical tables. Wait, that's not harrowing (I guess it can be if you fear the Pearson's R, which some people undoubtedly do). No, it was the two-hour lecture on domestic violence and sexual abuse that made it so. Our lecturer began the class with a short movie that opened with as actual recorded 9-1-1 call from a 6-year-old girl who reported that her mother's boyfriend was "trying to hurt [her] mommy and kicking her in the stomach." The child's mother was killed while the child was talking on the phone and we all heard the thump as the mother fell down the stairs. Ugh. And there are so many people who are killed/abused: 4.4 million women in the US report being abused, 52% are physically injured and they figure only about 38% of violence is reported at all.

Our class focused on vigilance in detecting assault and abuse because these women frequently show up in the hospital: women who are abused are four times more likely than the average woman to have urinary tract infections and pelvic pain (from forced sex); three times more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome (from the stress), STDs and bulimia, two times more likely to have seizures.... A lot of my classmates are interested in forensic nursing to help address this issue.

Forensic nursing applies to any nurse role that involves the legal system. The most common type is a SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) nurse (a nurse is likely to be far more experienced and comfortable performing this exam than the medical resident who would otherwise perform it in the ER). Also, a lot of cities are now hiring nurses to be crime scene examiners. Nurses excel in this role because they're accustomed to interviewing people, examining/assessing bodies (usually the bodies are alive but, hey) and knowing the health status of people e.g. what drugs the deceased used to overdose. Alberta (that trailblazing province) was the first place to use nurses as examiners.

So after a short break for lunch my class trotted off to psychopathology class where we had a lecture on anorexia and bulimia. Again: ugh. Not the cheeriest day. Also, Baltimore seems to be in some permanent storm system so I haven't seen the sun since before March break.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have just touched on the very reason why I chose to pursue nursing. I already plan on making my start in the ER and becoming a SANE nurse. I think that it is great that you have a class like this at your nursing school. It is so very important as I see medical personnel mistreating victims of SA all the time just because they were not trained properly on the issues surrounding these patients. I give a big thumbs up to your nursing school. :) Jill

8:03 PM  
Blogger Ilan Muskat said...


The only movies we've watched in class are Monty Python segments about "anarcho-syndicalist communes" and excerpts from "Black Adder Goes Forth".

First of all, neither of those detail scenarios for which we'd need to be emotionally prepared. When proclaiming oneself "King of the Britons, Anointed of the Lady of the Lake" to a mud-gathering peasant, only minimal training in political theory is required. Likewise, it's immaterial as to whether you're emotionally prepared to stick two pencils up your nose and wear your underwear on your head when attempting not to go "over the top" in World War I, as that war is long-concluded.

In theory, lectures in political science *should* be preparing us for sensitivity regarding issues of distributive justice and living conditions of armed forces personnel. However, it seems like the less helpful a movie is to one's professional development, the more one gets to laugh at cheeky English wit.

8:47 PM  
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