Equity Access is a Duquesne University School of Nursing educational model developed by Dr. Rebecca Kronk and Dr. Alison Colbert. We seek to educate nurses and other healthcare providers about some of the specialized knowledge and skills we need to provide high quality care for individuals with disabilities.

Nursing students are expected to leave school with a solid foundation on how to care for people with disabilities, along with an understanding of how people with disabilities navigate an increasingly complex healthcare environment. However, very few nursing programs have explicit coursework and learning objectives in this area that are evidence-based and recognize disability as a multidimensional construct. Moreover, research suggests that the relationship between healthcare providers and people with disabilities is often sub-optimal, and that attitudes of discrimination and disempowerment predominate.

In order to make progress in preparing the nurses of tomorrow, we must implement effective teaching pedagogies today that can be tested, refined and replicated. Nursing education at all levels has a recognized gap in evidence-based teaching strategies developed to improve care for people with disabilities.

Our goals:

  • To provide a forum for healthcare providers to learn more about the special knowledge, skills and attitudes required to provide high quality care for people with disabilities.
  • To connect healthcare providers with other professional disciplines and advocates who are working tirelessly for accessibility for all, in all settings.


Overview of Current Equity Programs

Consultant with Disability Simulation Program

This program provides a safe environment to teach, enhance, and assess the knowledge, skills, and behaviors of future nurses. Most programs use trained actors to serve as "disabled patients" during simulated educational exercises. At Duquesne, we aim to give persons living with a disability a stronger voice. Instead of actors, individuals living with a disability serve as Simulated Patient Consultants (SPC). This provides students with a more authentic experience and provides the SPC with an active role in shaping the care future nurses will provide.

Work Directly with Nursing Students

You can work directly with nursing students to help improve care for persons with disabilities. Duquesne University School of Nursing is seeking people with disabilities to participate in our Standardized Patient with Disability Simulation Program. Through this program, nursing students learn to provide competent and comprehensive care to people with disabilities through simulated health care scenarios.

The role of a Simulated Patient Consultant (SPC)

As a SPC, you will portray yourself or role-play an additional condition to provide students an accurate recreation of what you encounter in a health care setting.

  • All SPC encounters are respectful, non-invasive and may help students practice physical exam skills, communication skills and history taking.
  • No acting experience is required — mostly you just need to be yourself!
  • After training and instruction, SPCs may be contacted several times a year. You can participate in person or virtually based on your availability.
  • All SPCs are compensated for their time.

Any person with a disability interested in helping nursing students develop the skills to properly care for persons with disabilities.

Contact Information

If you are interested or have questions, please contact Rachel Means at meansrFREEDUQUESNE or (412) 396-5203.

Stages II: A Summer Theater Camp for Youth with Disabilities

A one-week summer camp for youth grades 7-12 to learn to develop acting, communication and self-esteem and self-advocacy skills. This School of Nursing and Theater Arts Department Partnership was made possible through a grant from the Edith Trees Foundation.


Learn about the Stages II camp for summer 2024.

Equity Access: Online Nursing Education on Care for People with Disabilities

Online modules were developed to provide an introduction to the specialized knowledge related to the care of individuals with disabilities, with a focus on advocacy. The modules include multiple teaching strategies and can be assigned as supplemental to existing coursework. You can explore these online modalities.



Dr. Colbert and Dr. Kronk developed the Equity Access education model.