March 16, 2017

University of Sioux Falls Nursing students will set their books aside on March 20 to experience the virtual realities of poverty in a unique poverty simulation.

Through the Community Action Poverty Simulation kit, nursing students will role-play the lives of low-income families. Some are TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) recipients, some are disabled, and others are senior citizens on Social Security. They have the stressful task of providing for basic necessities and shelter on a limited budget during the course of four, 15-minute “weeks.” They will interact with human service agencies, grocers, pawnbrokers, bill collectors, job interviewers, police officers and others.

“The School of Nursing is committed to providing rich learning experiences to our students that afford them with the opportunity to better understand the population we serve,” said Dr. Jessica Cherenegar, Director of the School of Nursing.

With poverty a relevant issue in our community, the USF Nursing program wants to prepare its students with a deeper sense of understanding and empathy from a potential patient’s perspective.

“An eye-opening experience for me during the planning phase of this event was the outreach of individuals who had personal stories of poverty that they shared,” Cherenegar said. “This is truly a condition that has a reach far beyond what the average community member likely realizes.”

The simulation brings awareness to the realities of poverty in our community as a whole while simultaneously exposing the effects poverty produces on an individual and personal level. As nursing students assume the virtual challenges and realities of poverty they will be able to better understand how to effectively care for those who experience these challenges daily.

“This simulation allows the students, if even briefly and on a small scale, to make the important transition from a nurse who can sympathize to one who can empathize,” Cherenegar said. “This is a valuable lesson with an end goal of enriching the patient experience.”

As the nursing program focuses on the importance of compassionate practice, it continues to demonstrate academic excellence with a 96 percent pass rate that exceeds the national rate by 10 percent. The program ranks among the highest in the state.

About USF’s School of Nursing

USF established its School of Nursing in 2008 and today offers three programs of study: An accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program sequenced over four semesters designed for students with a previously earned bachelor’s degree in an area other than nursing; a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program and an online RN-to- BSN degree program.

About the University of Sioux Falls

A growing, transformative university committed to academic excellence and the development of mature Christian persons for service to God and humankind in the world, the University of Sioux Falls offers more than 90 undergraduate programs and adult and graduate offerings in business, degree completion, education and nursing, as well as the Center for Professional Development. For more information about USF, visit

Share this Article