Dr. Suzanne Smeltzer honored by AACN for disability advocacy

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Suzanne Smeltzer, EdD, RN, ANEF, FAAN was honored by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) on March 22, 2016 with its prestigious 2016 Nurse.com/Gannett Foundation Lectureship Award for Diversity, Inclusion, and Sustainability in Nursing Education during AACN’s 2016 Spring Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. Dr. Smeltzer is professor and director of the College of Nursing’s Center for Nursing Research.

Dr. Smeltzer will be donating the cash prize that came with the award to support the standardized patients with disabilities program of the College of Nursing.

AACN recognized Dr. Smeltzer for her work over more than twenty years to address the health issues of people with disabilities through education, research, and advocacy. She has brought attention to the need for health care professions, including the nursing profession and nursing faculty, to prepare their graduates to provide high quality and sensitive care to people with disability.

During her formal remarks at the meeting, Dr. Smeltzer put forth a call to action to infuse people with disabilities and their healthcare needs into nursing curricula at the undergraduate and graduate levels, something she has already done with colleagues.

Along with a group of Villanova nursing faculty, Dr. Smeltzer has developed and implemented a program that utilizes standardized patients with disabilities to teach nursing students about disability. The students are taught about disability by the experts: those living day to day with a disability. Villanova will take a leadership role in bringing this issue to the national level in collaboration with the National League for Nursing through a new initiative.  Dr. Smeltzer has published and presented widely on the topic of disability and has received several awards related to her work in this area.