Nov 20, 2016

Reflecting on Poverty Simulation Day

Since introducing this assignment to students enrolled in the Health Care System and Health Promotion [IPE 3500] course last spring, Poverty Simulation Day has become one of the more unique opportunities IPE students are able to participate in. Dr. Leslie Hinyard, MSW, a co-facilitator for IPE 3500, first implemented this activity into the curriculum because, “practitioners must be able to understand the perspectives of various patients, which can be difficult when the patient comes from a background very different from that of their provider.”

The idea behind the Poverty Simulation is that we can engage students by bringing them outside of what they know and give them a glimpse of the health care world from a different perspective. To learn more about the way Poverty Simulation Day works, visit our first write up on the simulation and where the idea stems from.

Once students have gone through this simulation, they must complete a class debrief as well as a follow-up critical reflection assignment discussing their experiences during the simulation. Here is what some of our IPE 3500 students had to say…

“Overall, I am grateful for the poverty simulation experience because it opened up my eyes to the injustice that low-income families face. I was impacted most by the psychological stress that it put on my family. I did not realize before that it is not necessarily about hard work, but more about the system that is in place. We needed help but we either didn’t have the money to receive help or weren’t educated about programs that could help us. I realized how healthcare could largely contribute to systemic problems. Inaccessible care, large medical bills, and misinformation can only exacerbate the stress that low-income families face. I hope that I can use what I have learned from the simulation to shift my attitude towards those in low-income situations and advocate for justice.” –Hanna Suek, Fall 2016

“Participating in the poverty simulation was a humbling learning experience. Through participating in the simulation, I was able to develop a better idea of how to be more empathetic toward people who live their lives in poverty. In class, the difficulty of living in poverty has been discussed numerous times, but this experience allowed me to gain a better, more tangible understanding.” – Niahm Ryan, Fall 2016

“This simulation really opened my eyes to life experiences of low-income families. It’s hard and not as easy to get out of poverty as I always thought. I used to think that those with low-income could just get a second job to help, but now I understand that they don’t have time for another job, especially when they have to care for a family as well. During the simulation I wanted more options for help, quicker options even, in order to get anything done. The simulation just showed me that in my profession I will need to treat everyone equally whether they can pay or not. This simulation made me realize that majority of the time, those in poverty are there because of the cards they were dealt in life - It is not their fault. Everyone needs care, so as a nurse they will be given the same care as everyone else. It’s the least that I, as a nurse, can do.” – Carly Kissinger, Fall 2016

“We talked in our group about how those of us who were parents began to feel helpless that we couldn’t even control our own situation. To think that many people deal with these emotions over such a prolonged period of time, with little hope of relief, is incredibly scary. Those acting as children felt sad that they could not help and stressed to hear how much chaos was happening around them. As far as helping each other out, I found it interesting that each family really stuck by themselves. We could barely afford to take care of ourselves, let alone be concerned about others. This left us all very isolated from one another. Overall, I would highly recommend that everyone participate in this experiment at least once. It really illustrates poverty in a much more understandable way than simply just telling someone about it.” – Marissa Sinak, Fall 2016

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