Rush Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Receives Global Recognition

The International Association of Forensic Nurses honors one nurse globally each year
anna candoleza muglia with her hand over her heart as ted corbin talks into a microphone

Nurse Anna Candoleza Muglia has earned global recognition for her compassionate care of children and adults who have been sexually assaulted, starting when they come to the emergency department.

The International Association of Forensic Nurses has selected Candoleza as the 2024 Front Line Forensic Nurse of the Year. Candoleza, RN, SANE-A, cares for children and adults through the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program. She has served as coordinator since Rush’s SANE program began in 2018.

As a sexual assault nurse examiner, Candoleza helps patients in the aftermath of what might be the most traumatizing event of their lives. She helps walk survivors through all the evaluations and paperwork needed to collect evidence. It requires a deep level of empathy, and it’s something Candoleza excels at.

“In Anna’s daily work, she exceeds standards of forensic nursing care with her depth of clinical experience and passion for developing and executing the best care of her team’s patients, whom they meet at what is likely one of the worst moments of their lives,” said Anne Boatright, MSN, RN, SANE-A, FAAN, International Association of Forensic Nurses president. 

“Beyond patient care, she is committed to not only educating and training nurses but also to raising standards among her hospital’s departments to ensure that patients are met with compassionate and trauma-informed care. Anna’s professional expertise and personal commitment embody the very best of forensic nurses globally.” 

Candoleza started the program at Rush from scratch in 2018 and is currently working to expand the services provided by SANE nurses to other vulnerable populations, including survivors of strangulation, interpersonal violence, human trafficking and child and elder abuse. Candoleza also helps in orientation for emergency medicine interns and participates in simulation sessions for residents teaching sensitive topics like care of sexual assault and interpersonal violence survivors.

“I deeply admire the skill with which Anna has developed the SANE program at Rush. She has a great relationship with our nurses and is an outstanding teacher and mentor — to the point of SANE coordinators from other hospitals seeking her advice on a regular basis. I am honored to be working with her and I keep learning from her,” said Monika Pitzele, MD, PhD, medical director of Rush’s Sexual Assault Program.

“My first impression of her was she was a powerful force,” said Amy Signore, DNP, and a SANE coordinator. “I admire how passionate Anna is when it comes to serving this vulnerable population. She will not settle for status quo and actively seeks out the best evidence-based practices.”

When she’s not at Rush, Candoleza volunteers her time with the IAFN’s Illinois chapter, serving on the board of directors in various roles and previously serving as president. As the current director at large, she provides high-quality educational opportunities for members, including mock trials, collaboration with people in other disciplines and putting on SANE panel discussions on burnout prevention.

Candoleza first entered forensic nursing in 1996 while working as a registered nurse in the emergency department at South Shore Hospital in Chicago. Candoleza arrived at Rush in 2001 and has spent her career there, continuing to support and advocate for sexual assault survivors.

“Anna ensures the highest quality of care for our patients, and she is always available for backup and support,” said Ted Corbin, MD, chairperson of Emergency Medicine at Rush. “She is the epitome of grace and compassion with a tacit mission to ensure our patients receive the best care.”

The IAFN surprised Candoleza with the honor at a ceremony at Rush University Medical Center on July 10, 2024. The award goes to one nurse globally each year who demonstrates compassion and personal sacrifice on behalf of patients and provides extraordinary care. Candoleza’s previous distinctions include being named Emergency Nurse of the Year in 2015, 2016 and 2019.