Villanova, Pa. – It is estimated that there are more than 60 million people in the United States living with some form of disability, yet, many healthcare providers lack the proper education and knowledge of how to communicate with and care for this vulnerable population. Together with the National League for Nursing’s (NLN) Center for Excellence in the Care of Vulnerable Populations, Villanova College of Nursing faculty are launching “Advancing Care Excellence for Persons with Disabilities” (ACE.D), a free program offered online that gives nurse educators the tools they need to teach nursing students proficiency in disability care.
ACE.D is the newest curriculum to be added to NLN’s Advancing Care Excellence (ACE) educational modules, which provide free professional resources for nurse educators nationwide and are easily accessible and downloadable from a dedicated NLN microsite. ACE.D builds from and expands on teaching strategies and materials that have been used successfully to teach Villanova’s nursing students about caring for individuals with disabilities. The program was developed by Professor Suzanne Smeltzer, EdD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, director of the College’s Office of Nursing Research, along with faculty colleagues Bette Mariani, PhD, RN, associate professor, and Colleen H. Meakim, MSN, RN, CHSE, director of the Simulation and Learning Resource Center. Initial funding for ACE.D has been provided by the Inglis Foundation of Philadelphia and Villanova University’s VITAL program.
“The collaboration of Villanova University College of Nursing and NLN has enabled nursing faculty to realize the goal of taking our successful Standardized Patients with Disabilities Project to a national level through ACE.D,” said Dr. Smeltzer, who has worked for more than 20 years to address the health issues of people with disabilities through education, research and advocacy. “Using materials based on our teaching strategies, nursing faculty across the country will be able to address disability in their own curricula, which ultimately will improve the health care and health status of people with disabilities.”
Two three-part unfolding case studies were developed for ACE.D based on the real-world experiences of several individuals who work as Standardized Patients with Disabilities in simulations designed to introduce Villanova students to people with actual disabilities: “Mary Lou,” paralyzed and pregnant, and “Patrick,” a veteran and amputee. New teaching strategies available in this module coach faculty in how to prepare students to properly assess disabled patients and communicate with them effectively, as they present in the hospital and transition to home and other health care settings. Videos created by Villanova College of Nursing faculty to teach students appropriate communication strategies for interacting effectively with those with disabilities are included in the new curriculum.
Other ACE.D materials include a history of disability; a guide to how to communicate with individuals with a variety of different types of disabilities; definitions of terms relevant to disability; a guide for students to conduct an assessment of a patient with a disability; implications for modifications in assessment because of a patient’s disability; pregnancy in women with disabilities; aging with a disability; disability-specific resources; along with a tool-kit developed to assist faculty across the country in integrating disability-related concepts and content in their own nursing curricula.
About the Villanova University College of Nursing: The Villanova University College of Nursing, established in 1953, is a nationally recognized premier nursing program under Catholic auspices with a mission to create a synergy between compassion and clinical excellence. Designated a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing, the College provides a values-based undergraduate education grounded in the liberal arts and sciences that prepares students to assume positions as productive, ethical, and socially responsible citizens and leaders providing care in clinical and community settings. It also offers outstanding master’s, PhD and DNP programs. Its environment for faculty and student scholarship, its respected continuing nursing education program, outstanding centers for obesity prevention and global health, and the leadership contributions of its students, faculty and alumni in nursing and health care are acknowledged around the world. Visit villanova.edu/nursing.