Frequently Asked Questions (Certifications)

While a certificate and certification sound similar, they’re actually pretty different. To answer this commonly asked question, IAFN created this summary.

For sexual assault nurse examiners, the Association offers two certifications: the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner – Adult/Adolescent (SANE-A®) and the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner – Pediatric/Adolescent (SANE-P®). Certification as a SANE-A® and/or SANE-P® signifies that a sexual assault nurse examiner has demonstrated the highest standards of forensic nursing practice.
From 2012 through 2017, the Association collaborated with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) in offering a certification via portfolio in Advanced Forensic Nursing (AFN-BC). In late 2017, ANCC retired all its certification-by-portfolio programs, including the AFN-BC program. Certificants can renew their certification through ANCC’s standard certification renewal procedures. For more information, visit ANCC.

Only nurses who have achieved a passing score on the SANE-A® or SANE-P® examination may use those designations. Only nurses who have successfully completed the portfolio review process may use the AFN-BC designation.

A nurse who holds a professional certification (e.g., SANE-A®, SANE-P®, AFN-BC, etc.) should designate each certification separately after his or her name. Example: Jane Smith, RN, SANE-A, SANE-P, AFN-BC.

One of the eligibility requirements for the SANE-A and SANE-P certifications is that each candidate must have accrued a minimum of 300 hours of SANE-related practice within the past 3 years. Additionally, 200 of the 300 hours must comprise SANE-related practice that is focused on the patient population respective to the certification the applicant seeks (see the Certification Examination and the Certification Renewal Handbooks for more information).

    “Practice” includes any combination of the following activities:
  • Providing direct patient care as a SANE
  • Taking on-call shifts to respond to patients as a SANE (even if not seeing a patient)
  • Teaching/precepting SANEs
  • Consulting regarding SANE issues/cases
  • Engaging in peer review of SANE cases

To become certified as a SANE-A® and/or SANE-P®, you must meet the eligibility requirements and successfully complete the certification examination. For more information about the full path to become a SANE, start here.

Visit our “Study for the Exam” webpage for ideas.

The examinations are offered in multiple locations two times a year (in April and September).

Once the Association reviews your application to verify that you have met the eligibility criteria, you will receive an email from our testing vendor, Scantron, approximately one month before the start of the testing window. The email will include instructions on scheduling your examination. For additional information, please consult the current SANE Certification Examination Handbook.

IAFN will contact you if your application requires clarification or additional information.

IAFN will contact you if your application requires clarification or additional information.

I attended a SANE training course offered by an accredited school of nursing. How do the course credits translate into contact hours to meet the minimum of 40 contact hours for a SANE training course?
1 academic semester hour = 15 contact hours
1 academic quarter hour =12.5 contact hours

Download our testing vendor’s FAQs on Exam Scores.

Download our testing vendor’s handout on Performance Standards and the Standard Setting Process.

The 2020 overall pass rate for the SANE-A and SANE-P exams was 60% (2019 was 61%). Unlike perhaps a test in academia, no ideal pass rate exists for a professional certification exam. Scoring for professional certification exams is based upon a psychometric study called a Standard Setting Study, where content experts use an iterative process to determine the minimum level a candidate must perform on the exam to achieve a passing score. The most recent Standard Setting Study was held in 2019 for the SANE exams. And although each professional certification exam is unique–and no ideal pass rate exists–the SANE exam pass rates are comparable to nursing specialty exams with similarly sized examinee populations.

Visit the Exam Details page for updated information on eligibility.

You can find the most comprehensive information about SANE certification renewal in the current Certification Renewal Handbook(including a link to the online application).

You need 45 contact hours to renew. A minimum of 30 of those hours must be in Category A, and at least 12 hours of those hours must be granted from an approved/accredited provider of continuing nursing education (unless the applicant is outside the United States).

IAFN, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), and many state nursing organizations are approved providers of continuing nursing education. Information about the organization providing the continuing education credits should be listed in the course brochure.

All CE events submitted must relate to the appropriate test content outline (SANE-A test content outline for SANE-A renewal, and SANE-P test content outline for SANE-P renewal) which can be found in the Renewal Handbook. For example, the SANE-A test content outline has 5 categories listed with specific topics under each category. Check the description of the CE activity to see that it falls under one of these categories or the topics listed within each category.

  • Assessment and Documentation
  • Evidence Collection
  • Patient Management
  • Legal Issues and the Judicial Process
  • Professional Practice

  • Other professional CE activities such as BCLS, ACLS, TNCC, ENPC, and SANE-A certification prep courses are NOT eligible for certification renewal. Please read the list of CE that is NOT eligible for renewal in the Renewal Handbook. It is just as important to understand what is NOT eligible as what IS eligible for certification renewal. We may attend many CE events that are related to other areas of forensics, which are NOT eligible for SANE renewal. It will ease frustration and angst if you plan your CE activities according to your needs for renewal as well as your other needs for ongoing education. Some of these will overlap, but not all of them will. At least 12 of your CE credits under Category A (refer to the Handbook for descriptions of what constitutes Category A credit) must be from an accredited/approved continuing nursing education provider, such as ANCC.

    Yes–as long as the educational activities you completed are relevant to the SANE test content outline for which you are seeking renewal.

    Yes–as long as the educational activities you completed are relevant to the test content outline for which you are seeking renewal. For instance, if you attended a 2-hour session on “Techniques for Testifying,” those 2 hours may be listed on both your SANE-A and SANE-P renewal applications; trial testimony is a topic that appears on both test content outlines.

    No. Because SANE training is considered basic preparation rather than continuing education, you may apply one-quarter (25%) of the credits you received for the training toward your certification renewal. For example, if the course was awarded 40 hours, you can use 10 hours toward your certification renewal.

    No. The maximum number of hours in Category B is 15 hours.

    Yes. You can apply the 3 hours. However, because these 3 hours are non-nursing continuing education hours, they cannot count toward the 12hours of Category A that must be received from an approved/accredited provider of continuing nursing education.

    No. Although this course may be required for your job, the content does not relate to the SANE test content outlines and cannot be used toward your SANE certification renewal. The Certification Renewal Handbook contains a nonexhaustive list of courses that do not apply for renewal purposes.

    Category A includes: attendance at webinars, workshops, seminars, conferences, and conventions, such as contact hours given for completing an online continuing education course.

    Category B includes: attending or teaching SANE-related academic classes, publishing SANE-related content, giving SANE-related professional presentations or SANE poster preparation/presentations, and precepting new SANE nurses.

    An academic class is one offered by an accredited educational institution that addresses the areas of SANE nursing and health care.

    Webinars provided through the IAFN Online Learning Center indicate in this chart whether they can be used for renewal. Webinars provided through IAFN’s SAFEta project indicate eligibility in this chart.

    No. You must achieve a grade of “C” or better to use the course for certification renewal.

    1 academic semester hour = 15 hours toward renewal
    1 academic quarter hour = 12.5 hours toward renewal

    The content must be published in a recognized professional journal or by a recognized publishing house, and must be related to SANE nursing.

    The format may be a book, book chapter, article, or research paper.

    Authorship or co-authorship of a book = 15 hours toward renewal
    Book chapter, article, or research paper = 5 hours toward renewal

    Yes–as long as the presentation content is about SANE nursing. Each presentation is counted once during a renewal cycle. For example, if you give the same presentation twice during the renewal cycle, the hours may be credited only once.

    Yes. This type of presentation may be counted in Category B.

    The presentation must be a minimum of 60 minutes in length.
    60 minutes of presentation time = 3 hours toward renewal

    You will receive 3 hours toward renewal for each 60 minutes of presentation (e.g., 180-minute presentation = 9 hours toward renewal).

    Save the syllabus, course outline, handouts, or other course materials in the event your application is selected for audit.

    Yes. Poster presentations can be used in Category B. Poster presentations at national or regional meetings are given credit as follows:
    Poster development = 1 hour toward renewal
    Poster development and presentation = 2 hours toward renewal
    If a poster presentation is given more than once, credit is limited to 1 presentation during the renewal period.

    The hours must be logged by date, time, name of SANE supervisor, and a general description of the activity for each time period. The guidelines for preceptorship are:
    45 hours as a preceptor = 5 hours toward renewal.
    To receive credit for precepting, you must have acted as a preceptor for at least 45 hours during the renewal period, but you may accrue those hours by precepting multiple individuals.

    Any certificates of completion for continuing education activities (including the name of the participant, the dates of the course, the length of the activity, the title of the course, and contact hours provided, if appropriate).
    A grade report or transcript (if you are using academic course credit).
    If you author a book: a copy of the title page, the number of pages, and the table of contents. If you author a chapter: a copy of the title page and the table of contents with the chapter name and author. If you publish a journal article: the table of contents with the title and author.
    If you present a poster: the meeting syllabus, or the table of contents listing the presenter and the title of the poster.
    If you taught a class: the syllabus, course outlines, handouts, and other course materials. Preceptorship hours require documentation by log as noted in the previous question.

    No. The hours for certification renewal may only be accrued after the date on your letter of congratulations from IAFN.

    Yes! You must complete all required continuing education activities by November 1. The International Conference typically is held in October, so the continuing education sessions can be completed prior to submitting the certification renewal application in the same year. All continuing nursing education contact hours accrued after November 1 of the year your certification expires are eligible to apply toward your next renewal cycle.

    You can renew your certification by using the renewal by examination option.

    Yes. You do not need to be a member of the Association to renew your certification, but members enjoy discounted application fees for certification renewal.

    Apply and pay online (by credit card) through the Certification tab/Renew Your Certification option.

    If you are renewing by examination, complete the exam application online according to the exam deadlines.

    Submit your application no later than November 15; late filing is Nov 2 — 15 of the year in which your certification expires. Renewal determination notifications are generally sent within days of submission. Please retain a copy of all records, including a copy of your completed renewal application.

    No. You will be asked to provide these materials only if your application is selected for random audit. You will be notified in writing if your application is selected for audit.

    Submit the following documents for your renewal:

    • Completed application, including Category A and B (if applicable) continuing education listings
    • Appropriate certification renewal application fee(s)

    Certification renewal may be denied or revoked for any of the reasons listed in the CFNC’s Disciplinary and Complaints Policy.

    For years, at least 99% of the renewal applications have been approved!

    Renewal of certification is required every 3 years.

    To recertify, you must meet the eligibility requirements and apply for, sit, and achieve a passing score on the certification exam.