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Pam K. Gillin, MSN, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, SANE-P: Nurse, Educator, Specialist

January 2, 2023
Pam K. Gillin, MSN, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A, SANE-P, has always been a teacher. Whether she is teaching an online course to nursing students or educating the community about child sexual abuse prevention, her calming nature and clinical expertise offer a package of knowledge unmatched by most in her field.

Pam began her nursing journey in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She took a decade break to care for her family and returned to the workforce as a research coordinator of a neurologist at Kennedy Krieger Institute, supporting autism studies. She loved the work, but the physician leading the study moved out of state.

She knew she wanted to get back into nursing, but also needed a flexible schedule to be there for her three children, one of which has autism. The Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) team at GBMC was the perfect fit.

“When I took the certification class at GBMC, Laura Clary (Program Director) taught it, and she was such an inspiring figure,” Pam recalled. “She is 20 years younger than me, but she is such a natural leader and her passion for the work is contagious, which sounds strange given what the work is.”

The SAFE Program at GBMC is coordinated by registered nurses, who are specifically trained and certified by the Maryland Board of Nursing to care for victims of rape, sexual assault, child abuse, and intimate partner violence. The SAFE nurses perform detailed medical-forensic examinations and documentation and collect forensic evidence in a private, secure suite.

SAFE nurses are there to care for victims in the most vulnerable time of their lives, in addition to educating the community on the services GBMC offers and how to access them.

Pam is a lead community outreach educator on the team with a particular focus on child sexual abuse prevention. She has worked with No More Stolen Childhoods to teach courses and offers workshops and sessions on her own with GBMC partners.

“It’s such an important conversation because it’s so prevalent and preventable,” Pam said. “When you say child sexual abuse, people tune out. They don’t want to talk about it. It’s not meant to be scary, but it’s a message we all need to hear.

“If we have a community that is engaged, understands they have a role to play and the specific steps they can take to make a difference for children, they can prevent abuse before it happens. And, if it happens, they can recognize the signs and know how to react.”

As tricky and uncomfortable as the conversation is, it takes a special person to discuss it with participants and gain their trust. It can be difficult to see so many vulnerable moments for patients, but to nurses like Pam, the cost of not being there to care for victims is too great.

“I recognize a need to improve women’s health as well as their access to quality and compassionate healthcare,” Pam said. “More than 95% of our patients are women. Feeling the need to provide this service, making sure women have access to the healthcare they need, is what drives me.”

Pam spent years advocating for her son during a time when resources for children with developmental disabilities were underprioritized or non-existent. How did that experience translate to her ability and desire to advocate for sexual assault victims?

“People who have developmental disabilities are at risk of being sexually abused and assaulted,” Pam said. “I feel like I am uniquely equipped to care for these patients, and that’s a real meaningful part of my role, to be there for this population that needs our services.”

Services provided through the SAFE/DV program are free of charge, which can be difficult for a hospital to provide during uncertain financial times. Yet, GBMC’s leaders are firmly committed to maintaining the program because they understand the need and will not leave victims of the community without care.

“We have amazing nursing leadership, the best model I have ever seen in 35 years of being a nurse,” Pam said. “I also love being a forensic nurse at GBMC. It’s challenging, interesting and meaningful work, and each case is different. I am supported by an amazing team of SAFE nurses. It is hard to find a job that checks each of these boxes.”

If you have a passion for providing quality care with a great group of people, please consider applying. Use GBMC's new "Quick Apply" form to complete an application in approximately one minute.
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