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An Authentic Poverty Simulation for Health Care Profession Students Using Community Volunteers Experiencing Poverty

Hartman, Sheri A., PhD, APRN-CPNP; Kidd, Lori I., PhD, APRN; Resler, Rose M., MA, CCLS; Lax, Greta A., MS

doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000679
Nurse Educator: PDF Only

Background Poverty is a harsh reality for more than 40 million Americans, which can lead to detrimental health outcomes.

Problem Considering health professionals encounter clients of low-income status, increasing awareness and empathy toward this population is essential.

Approach This article describes a novel approach to conducting poverty simulations by using community volunteers that are currently living or have recently lived in poverty, lending to a more authentic experience for students. The community volunteers acted as resource workers during the simulation.

Outcomes Five lessons were learned as part of this authentic approach including the importance of orientation, consistent volunteer recruitment, volunteer appreciation, simulation role ownership, and importance of incentives.

Conclusion This approach is an effective initial step in increasing awareness and empathy among health care profession students toward individuals living in poverty. Use of community volunteers with personal experience with poverty enhances the realism of this experience for students.

Author Affiliations: Director of MSN Program and Associate Professor of Nursing (Dr Hartman), School of Nursing & Health Sciences, Malone University, Canton; and Associate Professor in School of Nursing (Dr Kidd), Coordinator in Child Life Specialist Program (Ms Resler), and Center Director for the Akron-Region Interprofessional Area Health Education Center (Ms Lax), College of Health Professions, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio.

This research was supported in part by a grant from the Health Resources Services Administration and the Akron-Region Interprofessional Area Health Education Center.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Sheri A. Hartman, PhD, APRN-CPNP, School of Nursing & Health Sciences, Malone University, Canton, OH 44709 (

Accepted for publication: March 7, 2019

Published ahead of print: April 24, 2019

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