New grant provides for disability simulations in undergraduate education

The work of incorporating care of people with disabilities into nursing curricula continues at the College of Nursing. The College was notified on February 9th that it is receiving a grant from the Association of Standardized Patient Educators (ASPE). The proposal, submitted by project director Suzanne C. Smeltzer, EdD, RN, FAAN, professor and director, Center for Nursing Research, focuses on “Use of Standardized Patients (SP) with Disabilities in an Undergraduate Nursing Program.” This complements the current work through another grant which incorporates the use of SPs with disabilities in the graduate-level nurse practitioner curriculum.

ASPE noted that the Villanova project was selected because they are interested in seeing more work with SP methodology and undergraduate nursing. Combining that with the concept of working with people with disabilities (PWD) training SPs to represent patients with those disabilities made the proposal stand out among the others. 

In addition to Dr. Smeltzer, team members include Elizabeth Bruderle, PhD, RN, clinical assistant professor; Colleen Meakim, MSN, RN, director, Learning Resource Center; Bette Mariani, PhD, RN and Elizabeth Petit deMange, PhD, NP-C, RN, both assistant professors; and Jennifer Ross, PhD, RN, CNE, adjunct clinical instructor. It is the belief of the College study team that “people with disabilities are or should be in charge of their own care and truly are the experts on their disability.” The project will include training PWDs to serve as SPs and exploring their perceptions of the student interactions, as well as evaluating the communication skills and attitudes of the nursing students and their reactions to the encounters. The overall goal of the project is to improve the ability of undergraduate nursing students to care for PWDs by introducing SPs with disabilities in their program.

The award will be announced at the June ASPE meeting in San Diego.