Robust Student Program at Camarillo

By Aimee Bhatia, NCI Therapy Resource, California
Camarillo Healthcare Center, led by Vonn Malabanan, has the most robust student experience I’ve been able to witness. When I visit this facility, there are a minimum of four students, with the average being six in the building at a time. Vonn has continued the student coordinator relationships that Julia Schmutz had initiated and also developed even more in order to provide an inpatient setting for students. Currently, they have a DPT student from Touro University, a DPT student from UNE, two PTA students from Concorde Career College, and two PTA students from Casa Loma College. They also have OT students lined up throughout the year, and Vonn is always the first to respond when someone needs a last-minute placement.

Initially, it was hard to get staff on board with being clinical instructors for the student program, but as they watched their peers interact with the students, sharpen their treatment skills, and experience the benefits of having a student, many changed their minds. Even the most tenured therapists who were the most hesitant now have students, and they feel like they are lost when they don’t have students with them.

We have all been students, and we know how important and impactful it can be to have a great student experience. We also know how challenging it can be to find a facility gracious enough to take on the responsibility of molding our upcoming therapists. Vonn and his team have taken it to the next level and have been a great example for our market. We have taken students in all of the other buildings I support, and most of them very rarely if ever hosted students in the past. We are working to slowly develop a similar model in our other facilities in order to benefit the students, our staff, and the buildings as a whole. Two of the most recent hires for PT in Vonn’s building were actually his students when he was a staff therapist. It goes to show how powerful a good experience for a student can be, how it can positively affect our recruitment efforts, and how when we truly provide a meaningful student clinical experience, it can lead to happy new hires.

I hope we can all strive to have a student program like Vonn and team Camarillo. Seeing buildings with clinical student experiences like this across the organization makes my heart happy, knowing that we have the opportunity to mold our future and hopefully bring young, eager talent to skilled nursing.