Teaching compassion for impoverished patients through simulation

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Excerpt

CAN COMPASSION FOR OTHERS be taught? Several studies indicate that clinical exposure to vulnerable populations can increase knowledge about and feelings of compassion and empathy for certain patient populations.1-3 Negative feelings toward people living in different cultural situations can be neutralized or made more positive with education and appropriate clinical exposure.4
Nursing students are often anxious in anticipation of their first contact with a homeless person and may have negative attitudes about homelessness or poverty that can affect the quality of their care.5-7 Nursing faculty working in large urban areas may be especially challenged to prepare students clinically and emotionally as they begin clinical experiences working with impoverished patients. The goal is to create an opportunity for positive cultural training for students that can be a positive learning experience for all.
To expose students to the healthcare barriers faced by people living in poverty and to prepare students for clinical placements among this patient population, nursing faculty at one Northern California university used the Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) (www.povertysimulation.net), developed by the Missouri Association for Community Action (www.communityaction.org). This simulation toolkit has been available since the mid-1980s and is still being used by nursing and other academic organizations, as well as by community institutions, such as churches, schools, government agencies, and local financial institutions, to acquaint participants with the issues facing people living in poverty. In this article, we examine one university's use of the Poverty Simulation and the lessons learned by participants.
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