Last week I facilitated a poverty simulation for the MedEx Academy sponsored by the Greenville Health System. Participating were high school seniors and college juniors and seniors who are planning careers in the medical field. Some will go to med school, others to pharmacy or nursing school, still others will pursue careers as physical or occupational therapists or in any one of dozens of opportunities.

The comments were fascinating from the students themselves. Here is a sampling:
• Well I have lived in poverty the majority of my life so I know how that feels. My experience is what drives me to be in healthcare and what you all do here can be very eye opening for people. It’s not living it, but it is a good glimpse.
• The rapid insight into how stressful this kind of situation could be.
• Feeling the stress of having others depend on you with no way to provide.
• I already understand most of these concepts. But the emotional experience was worth it. I enjoyed the experience

And as always with younger participants, they commented about what they learned to apply to their own lives: get receipts, save money, budget, etc.

There were also comments that made me wish we could have a follow-up session to help explore some of their perceptions (misperceptions?)
• Every day was the same, so no difference between days that may affect the family
• Negative things every day but in life it’s not every day
• The things that happened would never happen in real life, like going to jail for no reason
• The time factor; we could not plan or calculate

One of the volunteers also added to the conversation when she wrote: “This makes me even more grateful for the opportunity to help raise the level of understanding between social groups and provide a bridge across what sometimes seems like an infinite divide.”

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