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Pamela Terrill, UI College of Nursing

Pamela Terrill serves as an Iowa coordinator of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program; in that role, she works part-time in the UI College of Nursing teaching forensic evidence collection to registered nurses. Photo by Tom Jorgensen.

Pamela Terrill’s job is at least two jobs in one. As an Iowa coordinator of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program, she works part time in the UI College of Nursing teaching forensic evidence collection to registered nurses, organizing trainings, and responding to victims of sexual assault in area emergency rooms. She also participates at local, state, and national levels in efforts to expand the role of the sexual assault nurse examiner. This role is inextricably tied to her position as coordinator of the Johnson County Sexual Assault Response Team (JCSART).

The response team came about in 1999 as part of a nationwide trend to provide integrated services to sexual assault victims. Whether the victim calls the police, walks into an emergency room, or calls the advocacy program hotline, a chain of events is triggered that mobilizes advocates, sexual assault nurse examiners, emergency room staff, law enforcement, and the county attorney’s office.

Operating with a year-to-year grant from the Crime Victim’s Assistance Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, the program
ensures that prosecutors and law enforcement officers will have evidence efficiently and effectively collected if the victim chooses to report the crime.

An fyi interview provides an insight into Pamela’s work and life outside work.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I like the variety. I have patient contact, since I’m on call as a sexual assault nurse examiner. But I also enjoy the planning and programming aspects of the job and working with so many different agencies. I’m a family nurse practitioner with a background in community health nursing, and I’ve always liked women’s health, so this is a good fit.

What about your job do you wish you could change?

I’d like to see more successful prosecutions. These cases so often don’t go to court because the victim doesn’t want to press charges against the assailant. I had a call last night that was an older adolescent who had been raped, but she didn’t want to report it. The man involved is someone she knows, he is in the military, and she didn’t want to mess up his career. And that’s not an uncommon sentiment among victims.

I’d also like the funding to be more stable. Working on a year-to-year basis is a little nerve-racking. It’s such a good program; I’d like to see the funding more permanent.

What would your colleagues find most surprising about you?

They were recently surprised that I went with a group on a fly-in fishing trip to Canada last summer. I loved it. I’d call it my newest hobby.

What else do you like to do outside of work?

I like to exercise outdoors. I’m a bike rider, and I like to ski–especially snow ski–and I like hiking. I also like to travel and read.

Any particular genre of books?

Not really; I’m in a book club and we read a variety of books, which is one of the things I like about it. I’ve been in the book club for 20 years.

Seen any good movies lately?

I like going to movies, and Blood Diamond is one of my recent favorites. It makes a social statement, and the acting and production of the film are excellent.

What kind of music do you like?

Popular country artists such as Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, and the Dixie Chicks.

You’ve worked at the University for 22 years. Is Iowa City your hometown?

I grew up in Kansas City, but I consider Iowa City home now.

When you were in high school, what career did you think you’d pursue?

I didn’t think too much about it, but I do remember investigating the Peace Corps. I thought that would be a way to travel and help people at the same time. Much later, in the ‘80s, I went to Peru with a group of medical workers involved with bringing the concept of family planning to poor people in rural areas. We tried to teach them natural birth control methods and the basics of infant care.

Would you like to do something like that again?

I can see getting involved in a similar way as my career winds down and once my daughters are a little older. One daughter is a senior at The University of Iowa, and the other is a freshman at DePaul in Chicago.

What university did you attend? 

I spent one year at the University of Kansas, then took a year off to ski and work in Snowmass, Co. After that, I went to school in Maine for a while, then came back to Colorado to study psychology and sociology at the University of Colorado. I spent my junior year at the University of Lancaster in Lancaster, England, and that’s where I decided I wanted to be a nurse. So I finished my bachelor’s degree in Boulder, Co., and headed to nursing school in St. Louis. After working for a year as a public health nurse, I completed a master’s degree and family nurse practitioner course at Arizona State University.

Nursing seems to have been the right career choice.

Yes, it’s a field with wide variety and a broad range of possibilities. I especially enjoy working with people and helping them become healthier and make educated choices about their health practices.

by Michele Francis


Past profiles

Darrell Wilkins, Deeded Body Program

Juan Casco and John Moloney, IMU Food Services

Jay Holstein, Department of Religious Studies

Karen Copp, University of Iowa Press




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