PLUS: Students serve the campus and community at Alternative Spring Break


Giving back to the community is embedded in Sacramento State’s DNA. Since 1996, more than 20,000 students have contributed at least 1 million hours of volunteer time at more than 300 community partner sites.

But the University also engages with community members by bringing them onto campus, and nowhere is that more evident than in a pair of programs run by health profession faculty and students that are providing critical care to Sacramento-area residents.

Through the STEPS (Supported Treadmill Exercise Program at Sacramento State-Easter Seals) program, physical therapy faculty and students are helping young children with neuro-motor impairments to walk, a critical part of their learning and development. At the Interprofessional Amputee Clinic, students from a wide range of disciplines provide amputees with patient-centered care, all under one roof.

The programs are among the many across campus that provide hands-on, real world experience for students, helping better prepare them for successful careers. The result? Highly qualified professionals fueling the economy in the Sacramento region and beyond. The Doctor of Physical Therapy program, the first independent such program in the California State University system, boasts a 100 percent employment rate for graduates. The Sacramento State School of Nursing graduates 200-250 skilled nurses annually, who average a 95 percent to 100 percent pass rate on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s licensure examination (NCLEX).

The community looks to Sacramento State as a leader and a partner, and the University is giving back through programs like STEPS and the Amputee Clinic. – Jonathan Morales

A path to hope, one step at a time

Melissa Lincoln, whose daughter has a neuro-motor impairment, gets emotional when talking about what Sacramento State’s STEPS program has meant to her family.

“More than anything, it’s given us hope, that there’s hope for her, there’s more for her, that it doesn’t end with a disability,” Lincoln says. “There’s more for these kids.”

STEPS was founded in 2013 by Katrin Mattern-Baxter, a professor of physical therapy, and provides free, twice-weekly treadmill training to Sacramento-area children, helping them learn how to walk earlier and more independently. They are assisted and monitored by students in Sacramento State’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

Mattern-Baxter began the program after her research showed that children who used treadmills regularly were able to walk more quickly than those who did not – an important development because the ability to explore his or her environment can have a big impact on a child’s learning.

“It’s definitely part of the mission of Sac State to return services to the community,” Mattern-Baxter says. “That’s part of the mission of the University that we’re fulfilling here with STEPS.”

For amputees, holistic health care under one roof

At Sacramento State’s Interdisciplinary Amputee Clinic, students and faculty are easing amputees' difficult path forward by giving them access in one location to a variety of critical health services.

The clinic, under the direction of physical therapy Professor Toran MacLeod, is home to 16 patients, 60 clinicians, and students from physical therapy, speech, recreation, nursing and social work. It’s a win-win for all participants. Amputees receive personalized care without having to travel to multiple locations. Students get real-world experience working with patients from the community and the opportunity to learn alongside other health professionals-in-training.

“Interdisciplinary teams working together is really the only way to give true patient-centered care,” says Michelle Sanders, who is working toward her master’s degree in social work. “It’s really centering around them and every aspect of what they need. But they don’t only need physical care, (and) they don’t only need physical therapy or nursing. They are a whole person, and we are treating them as such through this.”

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