Innovative nursing education provides an eye-opening lesson on social compassion

The Research College of Nursing campus is located in the heart of Kansas City, which is also home to a large patient population of low-income families. In order to provide the highest quality patient care, it is important for our nursing students to understand what life is like for the 45 million Americans living at or below the poverty line.

In partnership with Community Action Agency of Greater Kansas City, our BSN students participate in a poverty simulation. It’s a team-building activity with a powerful message.

Each nursing student is randomly assigned a persona: name, gender, age, physical health and financial situation. The objective is to finish the “month” (about 2.5 hours of simulation) with their bills paid and family fed. Often scrambling to make it to their next task, the common response from students afterward: “There’s never enough time!”

Despite these challenges, the experience moves students to become a detective not a judge. After taking a walk in someone else’s shoes, it’s a reminder that one can’t make assumptions because nurses don’t know everything about a patient.