Nurse gains certifications to aid sexual assault victims

FORT KENT, Maine — Northern Maine Medical Center has strengthened its ability to support and care for patients who have experienced sexual assault with the addition of two Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) certifications for one of its nurses, Kristine Thibodeau, RN, SAFE-P, SAFE-A. 

The didactic and clinical components of the SAFE education and training are challenging, time consuming, and intense, according to SAFE Program Coordinator Amanda L. Blake, RN, BSN, SANE-A, SANE-P, ME-SAFE A/P. 

Thibodeau earned the certifications by fulfilling the clinical competency education and training requirements of both the Pediatric and the Adult/Adolescent Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner programs. These requirements are intended to serve as guidelines to optimize the medical and forensic care of patients who have experienced sexual violence. 

 “Meeting these requirements reflects an elevated level of commitment to the SAFE Program, to forensic nursing practice, and to patients in your community who experienced sexual violence,” said Blake about Thibodeau’s achievement. 

Thibodeau says forensic nursing has always been an area of interest for her, and she recognized the need for the service in the St. John Valley. 

“I wanted to provide more resources to the area, specifically for pediatrics. The certifications offer a mix of forensics and nursing, which is my passion. I am an advocate for patients, both adult and pediatric, and strive to provide quality care to the patients I serve,” she said.  

The addition of Thibodeau’s certifications will enhance the services NMMC offers the people of the St. John Valley and surrounding regions, offering sensitive care for patients who experienced sexual assault. 

“Kristine is among very few SAFE nurses in Aroostook County and the only SAFE nurse north of Bangor certified to care for pediatric patients. Her specialized training ensures we provide the highest quality, most dignified and compassionate care to our community,” said NMMC’s Director of Nursing Erin Pelletier.

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