WVU School of Nursing students learn patient skills

Poverty simulation program helps nursing students in rural W.Va.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Forty-three seniors in the West Virginia University School of Nursing recently learned about the realities of poverty in a practical simulation of the lives of low-income families. The students were preparing for a semester that will take them to various clinical sites across the state where they will live and work alongside nurses in rural communities. With more than 327,000 West Virginians living below the federal poverty level, the realities of poverty and poor health outcomes will likely be apparent in many of the families they will encounter.

“This program will hopefully help the students understand the complexities and frustrations of living in poverty day to day,” Susan Pinto, B.S.N., community health nursing faculty member at the School of Nursing, said. “With a greater awareness of the impact of poverty on health outcomes, students will be better equipped to work with families.”

A simulation kit was used to help the students understand the realities of poverty. The students used the simulation kit and played the roles of low-income families. The roles included TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) recipients, physically or mentally handicapped people, and senior citizens on Social Security. They had the task of providing for basic necessities and shelter on a limited budget. They interacted with faculty, staff and volunteers from the community who were assigned the roles of human service agency workers, grocers, pawnbrokers, bill collectors, job interviewers, police officers and others.

Many students spoke favorably of the simulation after the experience. “It helped to open my eyes. I never realized what it would be like to have to decide between buying food and paying the bills,” one student said.

Susan Coyle, Ph.D. R.N., director of Rural Health Education at the School of Nursing, is partnering with Pinto on a research study that evaluates whether participation in this simulation activity will have an impact on nursing students’ attitudes toward poverty. “We hope our research will confirm this with quantitative data,” Coyle said.

For more information about the WVU School of Nursing, see http://hsc.wvu.edu/son.


For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
sp: 02-10-10

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