Over 30 dental, predental and physician assistant students from Tufts University and UMass Boston assumed the roles of real-life families facing poverty during a poverty simulation in May. The goal of the exercise was to help students gain insight into the difficult
choices families need to make, including with respect to their health care. The simulation was hosted by
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) and guided by The United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.
The simulation tasked students with adhering to a monthly budget for a family living in poverty. The exercise enabled students to experience their family’s unique circumstances—as a grandmother raising her grandchildren, the loss of the breadwinner,
accommodating a recently injured family member—and understand how overdue bills, child care or temporary loss of a mode of transportation might impact a family’s access to services including dental care. The students were divided into families of various sizes and make-ups, and then followed their respective
family members through a week of a simulated month. There were kids to get to school or daycare, caretakers to get to work, checks to be cashed, bills to be paid and groceries to be bought.
After the one-hour simulation, there was an hour-long debriefing session for students to share their observations, including how their experiences can help them be more understanding health care providers to their patients.
Courtesy of Lisa LaPoint,
Assistant Director of Media Relations, Tufts University
Published on June 12, 2019