The Poverty Simulation 11-10-2023

Pittsburgh, PA US
November 10, 2023

The purpose of this educational offering is to provide an overview of the implications of poverty in our community through participation in a simulation exercise and discussion.

Target Audience

ISD Clinical Staff

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe federal definitions of poverty and how these guidelines impact families.
  2. Describe challenges encountered in a role-play simulation of living as a member of a family of four with low income for a one-month period. 
  3. Identify resources that are available to assist low-income families with nutrition, housing, health insurance, and childcare.
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 2.50 ANCC
    UPMC Provider Unit is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation
  • 2.50 ASWB
  • 2.50 Attendance
Course opens: 
Course expires: 
Event starts: 
11/10/2023 - 9:00am EST
Event ends: 
11/10/2023 - 12:00pm EST

Program begins at 9:00am and adjourns at 12pm Total  CE Hours = 2.5 

The three-hour simulation includes a welcome and overview, prebrief, family instructions, and four (15-minute-long) weeks followed by a five-minute family debrief between weeks, a large group debrief, and closing. Participants are assigned to one of 26 family units which are based on the profiles of real limited-income families in Missouri. Family structures are diverse and include married or unmarried couples, families with or without children, multigenerational families, single parents, children with no parents, single adults, and older adults. All participants receive a family packet which includes information on family members and ages; monthly income and expenses; items of value such as jewelry or television; if participants own their home, rent, or are homeless; monthly budget and expenses; and who in the family works or receives social services. Throughout the simulation, participants must obtain and provide food, shelter, medication, safety, transportation, and clothing.      The training is followed by a debriefing as a large group to unpack the simulation, participant experiences, and reflection of biases. Topics covered in the debriefing include the stress those in poverty face on a daily basis and its impacts on their physical, emotional, and mental health; systemic barriers those living in poverty face (e.g., lack of public transportation); difficulty accessing services and inadequate funding services; and what it means to live in a financially frail state. The goal of unpacking the experiences in the debrief is to support participants in understanding that poverty is complex and to shift the paradigm about poverty away from being seen as a personal failure and more toward the understanding of poverty as a structural failure of society.





Purpose and Description

Introductions and Instructions (no CE)

Welcome & Overview (no CE)

5 minutes

During the welcome and overview participants are introduced to what to expect over the next several hours and introduced to their “family”. 

Simulation Prebrief (no CE)



The simulation prebrief introduces the participants to the simulation, local poverty stats from their region, the purpose of the training, overview of the community (Realville), rules and responsibilities, and overview of community providers.

Family Instructions (no CE)

10 minutes

During family instructions, the members of each family or individual unit are able to familiarize themselves with their family packets and the contents. This includes any jobs, valuables, financial profile, and other important information.

Active Simulation (CE 90 Min)

Week 1

15 minutes

Families start to complete tasks of daily living. This week can feel hectic because the group is just forming and learning their roles. Some also need to find a job as soon as possible or apply for social services.

Family Debrief

5 minutes

Regroup and plan ahead for the next week.

Week 2

15 minutes

Families apply for jobs or go to work, apply for social services, pay bills, and kids go to school or daycare. Some who are seeking social support start to feel the stress of long lines and wating times for processing of support.

Family Debrief

5 minutes

Regroup and plan ahead for the next week.

Week 3

15 minutes

During week 3, families with children feel the pressures of the Realville school being closed and needing to find childcare.

Family Debrief

5 minutes

Regroup and plan ahead for the next week.

Week 4

15 minutes

During week 4, shut-off notices are more prominent for families not paying their bills, some families are evicted, and the effects of poverty start to wear on participants.

Family Debrief

5 minutes

Final family meeting to regroup after the simulation.

Small Group/ Family Debrief

10 minutes

An opportunity for the family unit to pause and process their experiences as a “family unit” together during the month of poverty.

Group Debrief (CE 60 min)

Large Group & Volunteer Debrief

60 minutes

The debrief is used to unpack the simulation, participant experiences, and reflection of biases. Participants and volunteers share their experiences, and the facilitator has prompts used to facilitate the discussion and sharing of insights and lessons learned.

Closing (no CE)

Closing (not CE time)

5 minutes

Facilitator stays until all participants have completed for questions and/ or additional support.

UPMC Health Plan
600 Grant Street
Conference Room 31 A, B, & C
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
United States
Amanda Gabarda, EdD, MPH, NBCHWC
UPMC Health Plan, Sr. Director of Clinical Training and Education

Dr. Gabarda is the Sr. Director of Clinical Training & Development at UPMC Health Plan where is responsible for the creation, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of training and skill development of lifestyle health coaches and care managers. She has a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Exercise Science from Slippery Rock University, a Master of Public Health from Walden University, and a Doctor of Education in Health and Physical Activity from the University of Pittsburgh.  Ms. Gabarda is a certified facilitator of the Community Action Poverty Simulation, National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach, and a Certified Health Education Specialist, with over 10 years’ experience in health coaching. 


In support of improving patient care, the University of Pittsburgh is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

Nursing (CNE)
The maximum number of hours awarded for this Continuing Nursing Education activity is 2.5 contact hours.

CCM CE will be provided: 2.5 CE - CCM COA will be sent via email from UPMC Health Plan nurse planner approximately 6-8 weeks following the live date of the course.

This activity is eligible for endorsed credit for UPMC Health Plan EMTs and Paramedics.  Complete ETHOS course work, obtain the attendance certificate, and submit to EMS governing body for 2.5 CE credit(s).

As a Jointly Accredited Organization, University of Pittsburgh is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved under this program. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. University of Pittsburgh maintains responsibility for this course. Social workers completing this course receive 2.5 continuing education credits.

Other health care professionals will receive a certificate of attendance confirming the number of contact hours commensurate with the extent of participation in this activity.

NOTE:  Paramedic/EMT CE is approved for any activity in which ANCC (nursing CE) is approved.  This is per Heather Bogdon and Christie Hempfling

Available Credit

  • 2.50 ANCC
    UPMC Provider Unit is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation
  • 2.50 ASWB
  • 2.50 Attendance
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