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Frequently Asked Questions About Certification




I took a SANE course and received a certificate. Is that the same thing as being certified?

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


What professional certifications does the Association offer?

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.

Who can use the SANE-A® or SANE-P® designation? Who can use the AFN-BC designation?

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.

How do I list my credentials if I am certified as a SANE-A®, a SANE-P®, or an AFN-BC?

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.


How do I calculate the 300 hours of SANE-related practice that is required for SANE certification testing and renewal?

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 adult or pediatric patient population, respective to the certification the applicant seeks (see the Certification Examination and the Certification Renewal Handbooks).
"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


Testing Questions

How do I become certified as a SANE-A® and/or SANE-P®?

To become certified as a SANE-A® and/or SANE-P®, you must meet the eligibility requirements and successfully complete the certification examination. The current SANE Certification Examination Handbook is available for download.  For more information about the full path to become a SANE, start here.

How should I study?

Visit our "Study for the Exam" webpage for ideas.

How often are the examinations offered?

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

What happens once I apply to take the examination? 

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. 

What if IAFN needs more information than is included on my application? 

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


How is the test scored?

Download our testing vendor's FAQs on Exam Scores.

What is a performance--or criterion referenced--standard?

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


What is the exam pass rate?

The 2019 pass rate for the SANE-A and SANE-P exams 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. 


How do I determine my eligibility?

Visit the Exam Details page for updated information on eligibility. 

Renewal Questions

Where do I find information about certification renewal?

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

How many education hours do I need to renew my SANE certification?

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).

What is an approved/accredited provider of continuing nursing education?

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.

How do I determine if a continuing education (CE) event qualifies for renewing my SANE certification?

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.


Can all my continuing education hours for the SANE renewal be in Category A?

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


I am certified as both a SANE-A and SANE-P. May I use the same accrued CE for both renewals?

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.  


I attended a SANE training course again. Can I use all the credits I received toward my certification renewal? 

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.

Can all my continuing education hours be in Category B?

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

I attended a class sponsored by our local coalition against sexual assault and received a certificate of completion for 3 hours. Can I apply those hours toward my certification renewal?

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.

I attended the Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) course. Can I use those CE credits toward my renewal?

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. 

What is included in Category A?

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

What is included in Category B?

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.

What is meant by an "academic class"?

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


IAFN offers a number of archived webinars.  Which ones can be used for renewal? 


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. For webinars provided through IAFN's Tribal Forensic Healthcare Project, renewal information is available for download.


I took a 3-credit class in forensic biology at my local community college and received a grade of "D." Can I apply this course in Category B for my renewal?

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

What are the guidelines to calculate how academic courses apply toward my renewal?

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

What is considered a professional publication?

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

What kind of publication format may be considered?

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

How do I calculate the number of hours granted for a publication?

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

If I give a presentation, can it count toward my SANE 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.

I am giving a presentation about our SANE program to the Kiwanis club next week. Can I use this under Category B?

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

How do I calculate the number of hours granted for giving a presentation?

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

If I am giving a 3-hour lecture on evidence collection techniques, how many hours apply toward my renewal?

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

What do I need to save from a class I taught to use that activity for my certification renewal?

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

I plan to present a poster at the International Conference. Can I use this for my certification renewal?

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.

How do I count my preceptorship hours?

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.

When I apply for renewal, what records do I need to save for possible audit?

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.

If I took my SANE certification examination in April, can I apply toward my certification renewal the contact hours from the SANE review course I attended before I took the test?

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

I plan to attend IAFN's next annual International Conference. Can I use the hours from the Conference toward my renewal?

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.

I lack sufficient hours to renew my certification using this option. What can I do?

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

My Association membership expired. Can I still renew my SANE certification?

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.

Where do I send my renewal application and fee?

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 or the application that is included in the current SANE Certification Examination Handbook.

When should I submit my renewal application?

Submit your application no later than November 15 (Nov 16 for 2020); late filing is typically Nov 2 -- 15 (Nov 2 -- 16 for 2020) of the year in which your certification expires. Renewal determination notifications are generally sent within one month of submission. Please retain a copy of all records, including a copy of your completed renewal application.

When I apply for renewal, should I submit documentation for all the classes I attended?

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.

What documents do I submit for my SANE renewal?

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)

What are the reasons that my certification renewal might be denied?

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


What is the renewal approval rate?

For years, more than 99% of the renewal applications have been approved!


How often is certification renewal required?

Renewal of certification is required every three (3) years.

My certification has lapsed. How can I recertify? 


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

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