Nursing school hosts poverty simulation

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Students learn about their new identities and families in the simulation. (Megan Maxey / Daily Titan)
Students learn about their new identities and families in the simulation.
(Megan Maxey / Daily Titan)

When Jasmine Cook walks into the nursing school’s poverty simulation she is no longer a nursing student going into her third semester, she now takes the role of Albert Aber, a 42-year-old father of three who has recently been laid o from his long-time job.
The nursing school’s poverty simulation, held on Sunday in the Titan Student Union Pavilion, offered an opportunity for students to experience the reality of those in poverty.
They were given real life problems many members of the Fullerton community face every day.
“We’re re-creating a community. It’s really based on the families that realistically are in all our communities. We’re not looking at homeless populations we’re looking at how people get into homelessness,” said Dr. Maria Matza, who coordinated the simulation and is an assistant professor at the school of nursing.
This is the assistant professor’s third time leading the event at CSUF.
Every participant was given a new identity and a new family. Some students take on the roles of single mothers, grandparents raising children, a father who was just laid off, a teenager who has to help support the family and various other situations.
Mock resources such as: schools, employers, banks and a prison are offered to these new families. The students must strategize utilizing all these resources, in order to survive given all the complexities and complications the simulation throws at them.
“This kind of opens up the reality of what really happens out there, how difficult it is, how when you’re desperate and you make bad choices because you don’t have any kind of knowledge about better choices, how you can quickly get into that cycle of poverty and it’s very hard to get out of it,” Matza said.
Many people stepped in to help the students gain this new perspective.
“You have to understand the patient and you can’t really understand what a person goes through unless you put yourself in their shoes,” said volunteer Arnold Hernandez. “If you don’t put yourself in their situation then you assume that their life is like yours.”
Hernandez went on to explain the importance of learning empathy in this simulation. He is one of the many volunteers who are not involved with the nursing school who helped make the simulation happen.
“We have been very fortunate that OLLI (Osher Life Long Learning Center) the retired professionals wanted to do this … They’ve been very instrumental in helping get that going and we’ve had interprofessional people from other schools here on campus and other places,” said Matza.
The phD explained her hopes of evolving the program to an event in which all colleges could be involved in.
Simulation coordinator board member Barbara Doyer has a similar vision.
“It’s good to understand the complexities that families go through. My hope … is to get other departments to participate and bring their students in [to participate] in these roles,” Doyer said.
Cook didn’t know what to expect when she walked into the TSU Sunday morning, but after living the life of ‘Albert’ she had some new thoughts.
She said the importance her program puts on learning about peopel and culture.
‘We are one of the primary resources and if we don’t know the information to give people then a lot of times they don’t know,” Cook said.
The nursing students learned about people who are impoverished specifically in Orange County. Cook pointed out that, “so many of the poor people [in Orange County] are hidden because we don’t see them. They look just like everybody else but when they go home they may not have running water or gas or whatever the situation is.”

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