Last month, the career and commitment of Suzanne Smeltzer, EdD, RN, FAAN was honored by St. Louis University School of Nursing where she earned her bachelor of science in nursing degree. Dean Teri A. Murray, PhD, RN, presented Dr. Smeltzer with the Alumni Merit Award for her dedication to and scholarly work on behalf of people with disabilities. As professor and director of the Center for Nursing Research for the College of Nursing, she is committed to making health promotion practices and services accessible and acceptable for people with disabilities. During her remarks, Dr. Smeltzer encouraged those in attendance to get involved in initiatives for this underserved population.
Dr. Smeltzer is an internationally known scholar, researcher, educator and author, who has directed the College’s Health Promotion for Women with Disabilities Project funded by a grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. She has served on state and federal disabilities-related committees and advisory groups and much of her research has addressed health issues of people with multiple sclerosis and other disabilities.
Disability affects one in every fourth or fifth person in the U.S, and thus is a critical topic for society. There is strong empirical evidence that individuals with disabilities receive health care less often and are offered less effective and less aggressive treatment than their non-disabled counterparts. Based on the continuing health care disparities that affect people with disabilities, in 2005 the U.S. Surgeon General issued a Call to Action to Improve the Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities for measures to ensure accessible, comprehensive health care for all persons with disabilities so that they are able to have full, engaged and productive lives in their own communities.