Camarena Health chose to become a Teaching Health Center because we saw a real need in our community. Throughout the last few years, the Central Valley has experienced a tremendous shortage of healthcare professionals, leaving the patients in our community without access to the care they need. Looking for solutions to this problem, we decided to reach out to teach, inspire, and retain the next generation of healthcare professionals, passing our medical knowledge and love of Madera County on to them.
That’s why we’ve partnered with universities like A.T. Still, Fresno State and others to recruit promising young students to complete their clinical rotations with Camarena Health. However, solving the provider shortage isn’t the only reason we became a Teaching Health Center. We also did it because our providers, and the rest of our staff, love teaching!
“Here at Camarena Health, we treat everybody like family. And that extends to our students as well,” says Dr. Joel Ramirez, Camarena Health’s CMO. “From the time our students come on board, we’re really getting them involved in all the activities our other providers participate in … so they get the full breadth of what it means to work with Camarena Health.”
"Here at Camarena, we treat everybody like family. And that extends to our students as well." - Dr. Joel Ramirez, Chief Medical Officer
When Dr. Ramirez says “the full breadth,” he means it. Students who conduct their rotations with Camarena aren’t just exposed to typical cases and experiences, like working with patients with diabetes and hypertension, but also unique, problem-based learning and hands-on workshops led by Camarena’s dedicated preceptors.
“Every six weeks you do a different rotation, and all the preceptors I had were really good at what they do,” says Kevin Violette, a former PA student who now works full-time with Camarena. “A lot of times, what they do is take their schedule and make it lighter so they have more time to teach you. Everybody’s trying to help you, and it created an environment where it was easy to ask questions. It was a comfortable place to learn.”
Those six week rotations cycle students through each of Camarena’s many outpatient services, including family practice, urgent care, optometry, internal medicine, dental, and pediatrics. Pediatrician Dr. Janae Barker says she loves hosting students conducting their pediatric rotations, because she gets to offer those students not only the knowledge, but the confidence they need to become independent practitioners.
“I am constantly blown away by the students I get up here,” says Dr. Barker. “They’re high-caliber. Typically, they’re really bright, they’re extremely motivated, and they’re eager to learn. So we have a great time.”
Many of the students we’ve hosted have gone on to choose Camarena as the place they launch their careers, which we think says a lot about our providers, our organization, and Madera County. Those students are helping us combat the Central Valley’s provider shortage and also further contributing to Camarena’s culture, by becoming providers who will one day go on to teach students like themselves!