Bellin College alumna advocates for sexual assault and abuse victims as a SANE nurse at St. Vincent Hospital

Interview with Dana Stueber
BSN, Class of 2001

Dana Stueber, BSN class of 2001, became interested in a nursing career later in life. She was in her late 30s when she graduated from the 15-month nursing program at Bellin College. A mother of three, Stueber had to make frequent visits to the doctor’s office and ER, and came up with her own home remedies.

“I watched nurses care for my family and friends and thought, I can do that,” recalls Stueber.

Prior to nursing school, Stueber worked in customer service and carried those skills into her nursing career. Once she decided on a nursing path, Stueber asked medical personnel which schools developed the best nurses. Bellin College was always a popular response.

“I wanted a four-year degree and needed to stay in Green Bay. Choosing Bellin College was the best decision I ever made. I recall saying at graduation that even if I am not able to work a single day as a nurse, the experience was worth it,” said Stueber.

Since graduating from Bellin College in 2001, Stueber worked as a NICU nurse for nine years before moving into her current role as the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) clinical coordinator at HSHS St. Vincent Hospital. Her nursing experience also includes working in hospice care and in the emergency department. Stueber also works as a health educator at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay. St. Vincent Hospital developed the SANE program to provide care and assistance to anyone who has been sexually assaulted. The nurses help men and women of all ages and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In her role, Stueber coordinates the day-to-day operations of the SANE program. She also schedules and trains the nurses who take calls, and educates new recruits at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and advocates located at the Sexual Assault Center.

The SANE program also works with the Brown County police department. Stueber gives the new officers tours and explains how the program works, so they can work together more effectively to support the victims.

“Victims of sexual violence need an empathetic listener to help them through what can be a traumatic experience. If I can make my moment in time with them more comfortable, then I have done my job. It is a type of nursing that many would not find appealing. It is important for us to provide options, but ultimately give back the power and control to the victim. It is important to understand the concept of trauma-informed care and be prepared to answer questions and proceed with the exam on their terms. If they need a break, you take a break,” explains Stueber.

There is a constant need for SANE nurses, as the program requires the nurses to be available 24/7. Adequate staffing keeps nurses from becoming burned out. Nationally, the turnover rate is two years. “At St. Vincent, we are very fortunate to have nurses that have been practicing much longer. Many programs are not able to keep a 24/7 schedule because of inadequate staff. When that occurs, patients will either not have an exam, or travel further to find a program that can help them. We ask for at least one year of nursing experience to build your assessment skills. When a nurse accepts a SANE position, they complete one week of adult/adolescent training, followed by one week of pediatric training,” said Stueber.

Stueber would like to see the SANE program grow in the future and evolve into a forensic exam program to include domestic violence, child abuse, strangulation, gunshot wounds and other injuries.

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