A.T. Still University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA) students, faculty and staff participated in a unique poverty simulation on the Arizona campus, Wed., July 30 in the Javelina and Owl classrooms. Two simulations were held to accommodate the 110 ATSU-SOMA students and other ATSU faculty from the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH), Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS), and Student Services who also participated.
According to Lorree Ratto, PhD, associate professor and chair, medical humanities and healthcare leadership, ATSU-SOMA, and who coordinated the event, the poverty simulation is a unique, interactive experience that helps people begin to understand what life is like with a shortage of money and an abundance of stress. “The simulation moves you to be more sensitive to the feelings and needs of those who are living in poverty,” said Dr. Ratto.
The participants took on the roles of family members who face a variety of socioeconomic and healthcare challenges, but typical circumstances for most under served and people living in poverty. Participants were seated in family clusters, and community resources were located at tables around the perimeter of the room. The simulation offered four, 15-minute weeks, compressing time and adding to the chaotic and sometimes hectic life families living in poverty face.
“There are more than 50 million people in the United States living in poverty,” said Dr. Ratto. “Our students need to be prepared to assist these patients with resources when they are at their Community Health Centers next year, and hopefully this exercise will make our students more empathetic towards their patients,” Dr. Ratto concluded.
More photos of the simulation can be found on the ATSU Facebook page.