Standardized Patients with Disabilities' Perceptions of Working with Undergraduate Nursing Students

APHA 2014 Poster Presentation

Suzanne C. Smeltzer, RN, EdD, FAAN, College of Nursing, Villanova University, Villanova, PA
Bette Mariani, PhD, RN , College of Nursing, Villanova University, Villanova, PA
Elizabeth Petit de Mange, PhD, RN , College of Nursing, Villanova University, Villanova, PA
Colleen Meakim, RN, MSN , College of Nursing, Villanova University, Villanova
Jennifer Ross, RN, PhD , College of Nursing, Villanova University, Villanova
Elizabeth Bruderle, RN, PhD , College of Nursing, Villanova University, Villanova, PA
Serah Nthenge, RN, MSN , College of Nursing, Villanova University, Villanova, PA

The use of standardized patients (SPs) with disabilities is largely unknown in nursing education. Anecdotal reports have suggested that use of SPs with disabilities is coercive and takes advantage of this “vulnerable population.” After two years of having SPs with disabilities interacting with undergraduate nursing students, we assessed the perceptions of SPs with disabilities and strategies to improve the experience through a qualitative study. A focus group and one phone interview were conducted with nine SPs with disabilities including post polio syndrome, spina bifida, stroke and amputation; their ages ranged from 32 to 82. Following IRB approval, SPs were asked about their motivation to participate, positive and negative experiences as SPs, and what could be improved about the experience.

Content analysis revealed themes:
1. Desire to give back and improve health care for future patients with disabilities,
2. An opportunity to be productive again,
3. Joy in seeing students’ learn and grow,
4. Need for more feedback, and
5. Importance of assessing accessibility of the education facility.

They perceived their contribution as valuable in improving health care for future patients by improving communication, knowledge and sensitivity of students. They considered themselves survivors rather than vulnerable. They requested more feedback on debriefing and information about the role of faculty members in the SP experiences. Importantly, they identified the need for the new state-of-the-art college building to be assessed by people with disability limitations for accessibility for people with disabilities as they identified several problems that could and should be easily remedied.


For more information email Suzanne Smeltzer.

Smeltzer_APHA2014_Poster