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UNLV Nursing targets low-income care with 'poverty simulation'

Posted at 7:23 AM, Sep 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-25 14:22:40-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The UNLV School of Nursing will join students from the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine and Dentistry School to place themselves inside the lives of a family living on low income during what they call a "Poverty Simulation" Saturday.

During two two-hour sessions, students will take on the role of a person living on low-income and attempt to navigate through a month's worth of challenges from finding food assistance, child care, getting employment, keeping their homes, struggling without reliable transportation, and more.

Clinical Instructor Minnie Wood said the exercise is designed to show trainee nurses how struggles unique to people below the poverty line can take precedence over keeping themselves healthy.

"Often our zip code is more important than our genetic code," she said. "The social determinants of health impacts our lives often way more than physiological or genetic things."

Wood said the simulation also helps health professionals better understand the community health system as it stands, identify flaws in the system, and potentially change the system as they begin and continue their careers in healthcare.

Possibly the most important lesson to be learned, she said, would be the empathy gained by people who otherwise may never have learned what living with a low income is like.

She said empathy is critical in nursing and other healthcare fields to ensure patients get the care that they need when they need it.

The training sessions run from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the MPE North Gym on UNLV's Maryland Campus.