By Hillary Lau

Meet Our Northeastern Co-op, Talia!

What school did you attend in high school and what's your current college?
I attended Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa, California. I currently attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts as a DPT student.

 

What drew you to physical therapy?
As a kid, I had a book about the human body, complete with detailed diagrams and descriptions of every system, from skeletal to digestive to immune. I read every page over and over, marveling at the wonders of the amazing mechanisms hidden just beneath our skin, especially the bones and muscles that function as one of nature's most complex mechanisms. This fascination with the human body has never faded, and along with my love for staying active, I have come to appreciate the joy of movement and the amazing things our body can do. When I shadowed a Physical Therapist at a children's clinic, I instantly knew that this was the right path. A career in which I am able to help others restore and rediscover the happiness and independence that comes with movement sounded like the perfect job for me. My first few weeks at F&L have only reinforced this decision. I have loved every minute of my job, from getting to know the patients, learning new techniques from the therapists, and trying out the huge variety of exercises and equipment in the clinic and in the pool. I am beyond excited to continue growing and learning in this field.

 

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
I still remember the moment I got the job offer from F&L - for a few minutes, I couldn't move or speak out of dumbfounded happiness, then when that passed I just screamed for a while because I couldn't contain my excitement. From the moment that I first heard about this opportunity early on in my freshman year at Northeastern, it was at the top of my list. I have fond memories of visiting Hawaii with my family, so living and working here, getting the chance to become attuned to the local culture instead of just being a tourist, sounded like a dream come true. As I was huddled inside in a jacket and scarf in the cold Boston winter, I had no trouble imagining myself spending my weekends outdoors, hiking through jungles and swimming in warm ocean water. I talked to many former co-ops and was captivated by their awesome stories; I also enjoyed reading their blog posts, and it feels a little unreal that I am now the one blogging! On top of that, as I learned more about F&L and its company values that encourage a humanistic and compassionate approach to PT, I knew that this was a place where I would fit in. I have found that throwing myself into unfamiliar situations usually results in exciting new experiences that I would not have otherwise encountered. Living in Hawaii for 6 months is the perfect opportunity to embark on some crazy adventures, and I plan to do just that!

 

What has been your experience like so far?
My experience so far has been absolutely incredible. From the minute I arrived, I have been welcomed with nothing but kindness and generosity from the F&L family. I have already learned so much working at the clinic and the pool, and every day seems to fly by because I’m having so much fun. Coworkers and patients alike have been so enthusiastic to recommend their favorite spots on the island, and we have not hesitated to explore them. From beautiful hikes through trails that make me feel like I'm in a Jurassic Park movie, to beaches straight out of a postcard, I have been blown away by the sheer beauty of this place. Some of my favorites so far have been jumping off the rock at Waimea Bay, going to my first Bon Dance in Manoa, scrambling down a cliff to visit the Makapu'u tide pools, and learning how to surf at Waikiki. I've also seen so many cool animals, including mongooses, geckos, and I even got an up-close view of a sea turtle while I was swimming in the ocean! Everywhere I look, the scenery is a constant reminder of how lucky I am to be here, and I can't wait to see what the next few months have in store for me!

 

What’s the strangest thing that you’ve eaten since arriving?
I have tried so many new foods since getting here, and it's hard to say which was the strangest because I have enjoyed all of them! I think my most interesting experience was trying peanut butter mochi. I love peanut butter and I love mochi, I just never thought you could put them together. The combination made for a delightfully fun squishy texture, and I was quick to go back for seconds. And thirds. And I also took a few pieces home with me.
What is on your to do list while here?
I actually have an ever growing list of everything that  patients, co-workers, and former co-ops have suggested, so hopefully by the end of 6 months I will have had the opportunity to experience most of those, and add some of my own discoveries as well. I want to experience every part of the island by hiking as many cool trails and visiting as many beaches as possible. I would love to watch surfers riding the big waves when it gets to be that time of year, and I would also love to learn how to surf (but preferably on much smaller waves). I definitely want to see some hula, and maybe even go to a luau. I just bought a ukulele at a swap meet and I'm looking forward to spending a lot of time playing it under a palm tree on the beach. Other big to-do list items include shark diving and sky diving! I also love to swim, run, and bike, and I have enjoyed using all three of these to explore my surroundings, and I am also hoping to compete in a triathlon while I'm here. Most of all, I just want to soak up the Hawaiian culture; learn about its history, pick up some of the lingo, eat all of the food, and embrace the spirit of Aloha.

 

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?
I don’t know yet what population I want to work with, but I do know that I want to be the kind of therapist that can motivate others not just through my words but also through my actions. I enjoy moving and being active throughout the day, and one of my favorite parts about this co-op is getting to try out new exercises along with the patients. I can see myself as the therapist who will help my patient get through that hard set of push ups by getting down and doing it with them. In this way, I want patients to know that I am fully invested in their success. Beyond this, all I know is that I want to be the kind of therapist who is always learning and adapting to the changing world of healthcare, and I am excited to keep an open mind and see where my path leads.

 

Who is your greatest influence in your life?
My parents have always held the greatest influence in my life. Leading by example, they have instilled in me the values of hard work, respect, and compassion ever since I was young. They supported all of my endeavors, showing up to countless basketball games, swim meets, music recitals, and drama performances. They used to give me brainteasers to solve at the dinner table, encouraging me to wonder and ask questions about anything and everything which taught me to be always curious. They showed me how to make the most out of life by pushing me to try new things even when I was scared - from biking without training wheels to riding crazy roller coasters to traveling through foreign countries. They have played a huge role in helping me grow into who I am today. Mahalo, Mom and Dad!
By Hillary Lau

Experiencing Life on a Little Island in the Pacific

written by ERIK

It was 4:30AM on a Saturday at Boston Logan Airport when I said farewell to my family and embarked on a 6-month opportunity to enhance my knowledge of physical therapy some 6,000 miles away from home. I had no idea what I was going to see, learn, understand, or experience throughout the next half year. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was to discover about not only myself, but about the people of Hawai’i.

Upon my first few weeks on Oahu, I quickly started to develop an appreciation for the aina (land) and what this geographical location meant to the many people I encountered as well as their ancestors before them. Waking up each day to be surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean and steep, treacherous Pali mountains was a daily reminder that one, life is good and life is beautiful, and two, we are simply beings (animal and nature alike) travelling through fragments in time that happen to coexist in this exact moment together right here and right now.

The people I was blessed to work alongside with at Fukuji & Lum Physical Therapy welcomed us as apart of their ohana (family) the very first day we met them. As a person that was fearful of the unknown and travelling the furthest away from home for the first time; it was a comforting moment where I knew I was going to settle in quite easily.

The following 6 months would unfold a captivating experience each day where I was able to: learn a considerable amount of physical therapy from the experts at the clinic, hike some of the most scenic locations on Earth, snorkel with sea turtles and exotic fish, or eat food that I am still unable to pronounce to this day.

An aspect about Fukuji & Lum that makes wanting to experience a co-op opportunity there opposed to another clinic or location is the wide spectrum of patients they treat. Fukuji & Lum have several locations that each bring something unique to the company whether it is aquatic therapy, worker’s compensation, or specialized, personal fitness programs to help maintain an excellent quality of life. I was able to witness and take part in the different services provided at Fukuji & Lum, which I believe allowed me to see more about what physical therapy has to offer people opposed to my personal observation of being a physical therapy patient. Participating in various services of physical therapy strengthened my knowledge and ability to treat more types of people.

I absolutely loved my time on Oahu. I still vividly remember times of walking along the shores of Lanikai Beach, hiking Kuli’ou’ou ridge, or eating a fat bowl of poke from Fresh Catch. Everyday felt like a new adventure and living on the beautiful island of Oahu allowed me to grow as a person and cherish the gift of life. A hui hou.

By Deb Matsuura

David & Erik, NEU Co-ops (cont.)

Our Co-ops have been here for a few months now, learning about physical therapy and exploring the islands. We have two more students to introduce to everyone, David and Erik, who are both post-bac Doctor of Physical Therapy students at Northeastern University.

 David

What drew you to physical therapy?
I had neuroblastoma as an infant, which was a tumor on the base of my spinal cord. This damaged some nerves that caused deficits in my right leg. So I was a patient of physical therapy as a young child, and the physical therapist that I worked with was an incredible, compassionate, and empowering woman. She was the reason I was able to participate in little league and other activities with my peers growing up, and she is the reason I entered this field and who I want to model myself after as a physical therapist and just as a good-hearted human being in general.

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
After speaking to some of my peers that did their co-op with Fukuji & Lum in the past, I knew this was the place I wanted to be. The culture of the clinic seemed like an incredible experience, as compassionate care is one of the main goals of Fukuji & Lum, and one of the reasons I wanted to do physical therapy in the first place. The aloha spirit really drew me in, as all of the patients and employees are extremely kind and amazing to work with. I also wanted to come to Hawaii because I am a big nature lover. I love hiking and being outdoors, and this is one of the best places in the world for that. Certainly can’t top escaping the Boston winter and coming to a tropical paradise.

What has been your experience like so far?
My experience so far has been everything I could have imagined. I’ve been able to work with a diverse patient population in a variety of settings and apply a lot of the knowledge I’ve obtained in the program so far. Any down time I’ve had has been spent hiking, going to beaches, and exploring everywhere on this beautiful island.

What’s the strangest thing that you’ve eaten since arriving?
I’m a big time foodie and a pretty adventurous eater, so it’s very rare that I consider any food weird. But everything I’ve tasted here so far has been absolutely delicious. I’ve eaten poke at least every other day since being here, I can’t get enough! The only thing I was told is a bit of an acquired taste was poi, but I enjoyed that as well!

What is on your to do list while here?
While I’m in Hawaii I’d love to just go on as many hikes as possible and see as much of this beautiful island as I can. I’d also love to be able to visit a few other islands while I’m here, I already have trips to Kauai and the Big Island planned! I’m scheduled to run a half marathon in April, which will be my first one so I’m very excited.

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?
I hope to be a compassionate, spiritual, empowering, and kind-hearted therapist, just like the first PT who influenced me, and like everyone here at Fukuji and Lum. I want to help my patients improve their functioning, and help them build confidence to be better than they ever thought they could be.

      

Who is your greatest influence in your life?
I have many great people that have influenced me throughout my life, but my greatest influence has to be my grandmother. She moved in with my family to help my parents when I was sick as an infant, and she never left, so she was always around when I was growing up and helped me become the person I am today. She is an incredibly strong woman, as she was a single mother and worked a few jobs at any given time to help support my mom and my uncle. She’s now 76 and still works full time and does a lot of house and yard work; she never stops moving!
Answering the same above questions as David, Erik shares his thoughts about Hawaii and being a PT student.

 Erik

I am from New Hampshire and have a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Keene State College, and currently pursuing a Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. I have always wanted a career in helping people since I was young and experienced my brother battle cancer for years. I myself have been to physical therapy twice for different sports-related injuries and found that it would be a highly rewarding career. I believe my balance with helping others and exercise science is a perfect blend in the physical therapy world.

There are a couple big reasons as to why I wanted to do my co-op in Hawai’i. First, I have never been to the island(s) and wanted to experience something new and different that Boston would not be able to offer. Second, Fukuji & Lum Physical Therapy gave me the feeling that I would be able to work closely with other patients and receive an invaluable co-op experience.

Thus far, my experience in Hawai’i has been amazing. While I’ve only been here for three full weeks, between hiking, snorkeling, and eating the local food I feel as I have begun to settle here and become more accustom to the island life. I would not say that I have eaten anything strange since arriving; however, the random snacks that have been offered to me at work are definitely unique to say the least.

My “to-do” list while I am here is to do a lot of hiking and swimming. Thus far, I am on the right track with hiking every weekend but I want to continue seeing new viewpoints and snorkeling in different reefs. Another thing on my bucket list while I am here is to visit at least two other islands.

     

I hope to be the type of therapist to always advocate for my patients, create a friendly work environment with those around me, and constantly learn new ways to treat impairments. I have several great influences in my life: multiple professors, musicians, and actors, as well as my father.

 

By Deb Matsuura

New Co-ops for 2018 (Cont.)

F&L has been fortunate enough to bring on six C0-ops this semester. You’ve met Ryan and Scott, so now let’s meet 2 more: Brynn & Emily!

BRYNN
What high school did you attend and what’s your current college?
I went to Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon and I currently attend Northeastern University.

What drew you to physical therapy?
I was born with Erb’s Palsy in my left arm and grew up going to physical therapy so it seemed like a normal part of life to me. When I was in high school I realized that I could help people just as much as my PTs had helped me and decided that that was what I wanted to do in life.

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
I wanted to coop here in Hawaii because I was very interested in aqua-therapy and the hands on experience that the clinics offer. I also greatly enjoy traveling and immersing myself into new cultures so it seemed like the perfect fit for me.

What has been your experience like so far? 
So far I have loved every second of it and I already feel like I have learned so much both from my coworkers and from the patients.

What’s the strangest thing that you’ve eaten since arriving?
Since arriving the strangest thing that I have eaten is dried shrimp. I am not a huge fan of cooked seafood so that was an interesting experience.

What is on your to do list while here?
While I’m here I want to explore as much of the island as I can and go hiking every weekend. I want to experience as much as I possibly can and feel at home here.

      
What kind of therapist do you hope to be? 
I am not yet sure what type of therapist I want to be because there is so much that I haven’t seen and so many different patient populations that I have yet to work with. That being said, I don’t see myself working in an in-patient setting.

 

Who is your greatest influence in your life?
If I had to choose one person who has had the greatest influence in my life it would be my high school rowing coach. He is very driven and dedicated and throughout my 5 years with him taught me so many life lessons that I did not realize until I left the club.

EMILY

Aloha!
What high school did you attend and what’s your current college? 
I grew up in a small suburb outside of Boston and attended Dover-Sherborn High School. I am currently a fourth year physical therapy student at Northeastern University.

What drew you to physical therapy and why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
In 9th grade I loved my biology and anatomy class (MUCH more than math class) and realized that I was fascinated by how the human body worked. I decided to complete a PT internship in a small outpatient clinic in MA and my experience confirmed that I wanted to major in PT. I worked alongside a Northeastern Co-op student who raved about her PT program and I decided Northeastern was my dream school.

I studied abroad in Greece for my first semester of college and I had an absolutely amazing experience. When I returned to Boston I knew that I wanted to embrace more opportunities at Northeastern to travel and experience new challenges. When I heard about the Hawaii Co-op I knew it was something that I wanted to pursue. Previous Co-op students would post amazing photos, share stories about their experiences, and they carried a new positive energy. Who knew that my path at Northeastern would include two study abroad programs (Greece and London) and a 6 month Co-op on the amazing island of Oahu!

What has been your experience like so far? 
The transition to Hawaii was pretty smooth and although the jet lag and adjustment to the “vog” took a slight toll on me, I became immersed in a new lifestyle right away. I got right to work training at the Kailua clinic/pool the first week on the island and before I knew it the first weekend had arrived and promised adventure. So far my friends and I have hiked Kuliouoou Ridge and Koko Head and enjoyed Waimea Bay, Sandy’s Beach, Kailua Beach, and Lanikai Beach. The second trip to the North Shore wasn’t quite as pleasant as my friends and I (along with our phones) got taken out by a wave even though we were standing 50 feet away. On the bright side now I have waterproof phone with a great camera to capture the many memories and beautiful views to come.

What’s the strangest thing that you’ve eaten since arriving? 
The strangest thing I’ve eaten since arriving is Lilikoi.I found the fruit to be pretty sour and a patient recommended that I try it again with honey and sugar which sounds pretty yummy.

What is on your to do list while here?
My ultimate Hawaii to-do list includes the usual- tan at beaches all over the island, snorkel, kayak, paddle board, and hike as many mountains at possible. I also really want to horseback ride and drive ATVs at the Kualoa Ranch, sky dive, and take surfing lessons. I also plan to try as many acai bowls on the island as possible.

What kind of therapist do you hope to be? 
My last Co-op was half inpatient/ outpatient and to my surprise I really enjoyed both types of PT. I stayed on as an inpatient aide at the hospital for weekend shifts which is why I seeked out more outpatient experience for my Co-op. I felt like a lot of the information that we learned in the past three semesters of school could be applied and built upon in an outpatient clinic. I am unsure what setting I will be in when I’m older but luckily I have time to figure it out! As a Northeastern student I am truly lucky that I have the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of physical therapy placements at hospitals, schools, and rehabilitation centers.

Who is your greatest influence in your life?
My mom has a very big influence in my life and I strive to be like her. People love to be around my mom as she is a genuine, kind person and she always puts others before her. She supports me no matter what and never fails to remind me how proud of me she is.My mom loves the ocean as she grew up in a beach town so she cannot WAIT to see the shores of Hawaii :). My friends at Northeastern also have a great impact on my life. We motivate each other to work hard in school and find a balance so that we can get through PT school but also be young and have fun. My friends always have my back and are always there for a good laugh.

By Deb Matsuura

2018 Co-ops Are Here!

Our 2018 Co-ops from Northeastern University have been with us for the past 3 months now. We have 6 PT students, the most we ever had in one semester. They are learning and working at our various clinics in Kailua, Kaneohe and Honolulu. Each student wrote a quick blog to introduce themselves, tell us a little about why they chose to study Physical Therapy and share their experiences so far since arriving in Hawaii.

Ryan & Scott

 Ryan is working at our Honolulu clinic and Kokokahi pool.

What drew you to physical therapy? A whim! After receiving my acceptance into NEU, I began looking more into their programs offered to see which interested me most. I stumbled upon the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program and thought it seemed interesting and something I could see myself doing. After my first co-op my third year, I was hooked!

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii? Growing up on the west coast, I became pretty accustomed to living in warm weather year-round. After spending the past three and a half years in Boston (and in the frigid northeast winters), I felt it was time to give my mind and body the break it needed. I really enjoy traveling and trying new things so coming to Hawaii seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that. 

[one_half]What has been your experience like so far? Excellent! Everyone at all of the clinics has been incredibly kind and inviting. I’ve been loving the warm weather and going out-and-about every weekend. These first few weeks have me extremely excited for the months to come! 

What’s the strangest thing that you’ve eaten since arriving? Poi! interesting texture and flavor, but not bad! I loved the way it slid down my throat! nice and gooey!

What is on your to do list while here? While here I really want to go skydiving! I also plan on running a half marathon in April and getting in better shape. I also want to be able to touch my toes by the end of June. 

What kind of therapist do you hope to be? As of now, I am unsure exactly what kind of physical therapist I want to be. I hope to one day work in an outpatient setting with a diverse patient population. I am hoping that my time here at F&L will help me narrow down my search and help me decide what I like and do not like. 

   

Who is your greatest influence in your life? The greatest influence I have in my life has been my incredibly caring mother. Growing up, there was not a thing she wouldn’t do to help me better myself and succeed. Her nurturing personality and abounding love motivates me everyday to be the best person I can be. 

 

 Scott works mainly at our Honolulu Clinic.

What I love about PT is the ability to teach individuals about how to safely and efficiently navigate themselves through their environments. With some MD appointments you just go in and out of the appointment. With PT you get to build a relationship with individuals as you guide them through their exercises and provide them with modalities.

I applied to do a Co-op in Hawaii because I’ve always wanted to experience living somewhere far far far away from home. Plus, the beauty that is everywhere on this island and all the stories and adventures I heard about Hawaii made me convinced I had to do my co-op here!

My experience in Hawaii so far has been UNREAL!!! It’s good to be better acquainted with the island now. I love being able to spend my free time on the beach or hiking. All my friends back home are freezing right now and I couldn’t be happier in the warmth! I hurt my leg the day of the big 55 foot waves on the North shore which is a good story I guess.

Have I eaten anything weird since I’ve arrived in the islands? Ryan cooked a medley of peppers and rice and sausage for him and me one night… it was a lot to stomach…. no but really I had never had poke until coming here, and ever since my first taste of kimchee tako I’ve fallen in love!

To do list: Learn how to surf! Hike every mountain I can and do some sunrise hikes! Learn more about Hawaiian culture! Go to the beach and chiiiiiiiilllllll!

   
I want to be a therapist that can analyze impairments and dysfunctions methodically and critically. More so than that, I also want to be the type of therapist that is able to listen and empathize with my patients fully, provide answers to their questions, and help guide them on their journey of rehab.

My greatest influence would have to be my dad. People tell me a lot that I act just like him. He taught me the importance of being easy going and positive while also recognizing when it’s time to be serious and focus. He also taught me a great deal about confidence and determination. Because of him, when I set my eyes on a goal, it’s pretty impossible to tear me away from it until I achieve it. I wouldn’t be the student, future therapist, or person I am today if it were not for him.
By Deb Matsuura

A Letter from Stevie

Aloha F&L,

It’s been hard for me trying to find a good way to start this blog. I have no words that can fully describe how incredibly grateful I am for my co-op experience with Fukuji and Lum. My journey started with a lot of unknowns: where was I going on co-op, who am I going to live with, how do I get to work every day, how was I supposed to move across the globe for 6 months on my own? I was really scared but I knew deep down that I was making a life-changing decision by coming to Hawaii.
[one_half] I started at F&L as the first health science co-op! I was pumped to represent Northeastern in a new role at Fukuji and Lum. I started my co-op in July as a medical receptionist, and in November I began scribing at the pool. With both roles I had totally different experiences interacting with patients; having the knowledge of both positions made me feel like a more dynamic team member. However, nothing could have prepared me for the love I felt in Hawaii. [/one_half]
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As soon as I came to Hawaii I was embraced by everybody I met. I was used to keeping my guard up but over the last 6 months my new Ohana tore the walls down and completely immersed me in the spirit of aloha. I would never have learned as much as I did without the compassion expressed by the staff of Fukuji and Lum. I’ve never been hugged so much in my life as I was by Rachel Hyland. I’ve never laughed as much as I did with Kaleo at the front desk. I’ve never felt as comfortable being unsure about things as I was with Cynthia. The community created by F&L allowed me to be a student just trying to figure things out and learn a lot along the way.

When I wasn’t working I was exploring the islands of Hawaii! My trips to Maui and the Big Island are ones I will never forget. I rode my bike to work every day, all over Kailua and Kaneohe, and used the bus to get around the rest of Oahu. The other students and I went on the most beautiful hikes in the world, chilled on the best beaches ever, and enjoyed the delicious food. On islands so small there was plenty to do. I went skydiving, got my first tattoo (sorry Dad), walked on top of lava, and met so many amazing people from all over the world. I wouldn’t have done any of this if I wasn’t on co-op in Hawaii.

     

To everyone at F&L, I miss you all so much. Shout out to Grace, Liz, Kyle, and Matt for graciously accepting their surprise fifth co-op. I am so happy to have met all of you and I hope to see you again soon.

Mahalo nui loa,
Stevie Schuessler

 

By Mark Yanai

Reflections and Gratitude

Aloha!

It is 35 degrees in Boston today. One of the milder days lately. Just wanted to put that out there :)!

I’m sitting in my room, looking at pictures and reading my journal. I remember the moment that I fell in love with the thought of this experience. It was a first-year meeting with my co-op advisor. I was interested in looking for a co-op in California, but was told that my closest option was a clinic in Hawaii… The dream of hiking, surfing, and being immersed in Hawaiian culture for six months was permanently etched into my mind.   [one_third]
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And just when I thought I couldn’t get any more excited, I saw Fukuji and Lum’s website, read the higher purpose, mission statement, values, and Mark’s blog… My heart had made its decision.

I remember the night that I landed in Hawaii. The mirror selfie with my first lei, first shaka, and a smile that couldn’t be wiped off my face. A whole lot of life has been lived since that moment. I’m not quite sure how to put all of it into words, so I’m just going to write for a few minutes and list a bunch of things that I loved and were meaningful to me as they come to mind… [/two_third_last]

I loved walking around barefoot everywhere, even getting the occasional ‘local feet’ compliment that boosted my ego and made me feel like I belonged. I loved having the time and space to journal everyday, which had been a goal of mine for years. I loved sitting by the water in Colleen’s backyard in the mornings, watching the sunrise and focusing on my breath. Sitting in the same place some nights and playing guitar under the stars… I loved kayaking to work –somedays a peaceful experience and other days a slightly more exciting/scary but equally awesome and meaningful one. I’ll be lucky if I can ever top that commute…

 

I loved the energy I felt when I walked into work every day. The high-fives, the laughs, the smiles. A whole lot of smiles. The spirit days that pushed me out of my comfort zone and occasionally ended with braids in my hair. I loved that we always seemed to be celebrating something or someone, and that potlucks were such a regular event. Curry Friday’s at work… The mochiko chicken was pretty incredible, but wasn’t nearly as awesome as the smiles, laughs, and ‘food comas’ that came with it.

I loved playing ukulele by the pool during breaks. I loved connecting with patients, learning Hawaiian and Pidgin words from them, hearing their stories, and playing a role in their recovery, no matter how small. I loved that I was able to play basketball every week with a beautiful view and even better company.

 

I loved surfing (a.k.a. lots of paddling around, getting tossed by waves, and occasionally catching one), hiking, learning ukulele, traveling to outer islands, getting to know a lot of really incredible people, and building professional and personal relationships that are far from over… Most of all, I loved that I was able to share this experience with four other awesome students, who added so much value to my life over the last six months.

 

I love highlights, but one of my favorite parts of this experience was that it was so real. I still experienced stress, overwhelm, indecision, frustration, sadness, self-consciousness… I even had one week when I managed to lose my brand-new GoPro, almost sink on my commute to work, and donate my iPhone to the ocean in the process (although I did find this unintentional technology cleanse pretty enjoyable ☺). These were often the days and moments that I learned the most about myself, so I’m grateful for them too.

My time in Hawaii was deeply meaningful to me and has impacted me in many ways that I probably haven’t even realized yet. What I do know is that it helps me remember to slow down, to appreciate where I am and who I’m with in this moment, and to always strive to ‘live aloha’ through compassion, serving others, and spreading positive energy. I felt more comfortable ‘being me’ over these last six months than I have felt in a very long time, which is funny because I stuck out so much. Red hair, inability to tan, and all. I’m not sure exactly what allowed me to do that, but I think it has a lot to do with the aloha and Fukuji and Lum’s culture…

It was a blessing to work for a company with such a strong, positive, and transformative culture and vision. I am so grateful that my path led me here, and grateful for everyone at Fukuji and Lum who showed us co-ops so much love and aloha and welcomed us as a part of the Ohana. I love how you all approach life and physical therapy…

Mahalo for being a part of my journey. A Hui Ho, Hawaii!

Matt

By Deb Matsuura

Kyle’s Co-op Memories

After spending 6 months at Fukuji & Lum, I’ve learned a lot and am thankful for everyone who went out of their way to help and teach me. For example, when I started, I was 2 months out of a shoulder surgery and Shaw, Taryn, Mark, and Art all took time to help me through and make sure I was on track.

Every day after work, Lynn would drive me to the bus stop so I could make the early bus home and not have to wait another hour. If I was a little overwhelmed on a busy shift Mike or Jenny would help me out with a patient or two. Everyone helped each other out, and it made me want to do the same. This is the Fukuji & Lum culture that took me a few months to really get a grasp of, but looking back I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

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[two_third_last]In what other company could you be wrapped up in toilet paper and made to look like a bride for a game at a wedding shower? Where else could a student attend a continuing education course? Or how about play pickup basketball with other employees every Tuesday night?

Is it crazy to go all the way to a clinic on the Windward side, from the Honolulu clinic, just to take part in the katsu curry lunch on Fridays? What about dressing up every single day of October for PT month? [/two_third_last]

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[one_half] While there may be a company where you can say yes to a few of these, at F&L I did all of those things and much more. I had the experience of doing much more than going and applying what I’ve learned in class on real patients. I had the experience of being a part of something greater than myself. It wasn’t just about treating patients, it was about loving & growing together as a family, and we sure did. [/one_half]

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kyle3 [/one_half_last] On top of all the work-related memories, the other Co-ops and I ventured far and wide intra-island and inter-island. We explored mountains, valleys, and beaches. In between we explored sandwich shops, waterfalls, shave-ice stands, and our favorite poke places. The best part of these adventures was never the location or the food, but rather getting to know each other better.

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Words can’t fully express my 6-months in Hawaii, but they don’t need to. The employees of F&L, including the other students, Matt, Stevie, Liz, and Grace, share our memories and I find peace in knowing they will live on for the rest of our lives.

A hui hou Hawaii.

By Deb Matsuura

Special Thanks to Fukuji & Lum

Entering the New Year, I look back at my 2017 accomplishments. As many others strive for when creating their list of resolutions, I had hoped for positive change and personal growth. With the bittersweet end to my time in Hawaii, I reflect on how it has helped me to reach my goals. Surrounded by clear blue waters, soaring mountain ranges, and a unique Ohana; I had the opportunity to take a step away from the hustle of Boston and learn more about myself and the therapist I want to be one day.

After receiving word of my position in Hawaii, I was both excited and nervous for this new adventure. Weeks leading up to my arrival I had many friends and family, some more jealous than others, sending me good wishes on this next chapter in my life.

[two_third] Previous co-ops spoke so highly of their coworkers and experiences, so I knew I would be greeted with open arms. This made leaving home and coming to an unfamiliar place a little less daunting.

Within hours of landing, I was receiving welcome hugs from people I had never met – I already felt a part of the Ohana. With any new job, the first few months are a transition period. Learning to embody the values of a company and collaborate closely with colleagues you know little about, can be difficult. Although it was overwhelming at times and my supervisors received many of my dumbfounded looks, I felt every coworker I encountered was willing and able to help me make this transition seamless.[/two_third]
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[/one_third_last] I am grateful to have worked with so many accomplished and intelligent therapists. I learned that each therapist has something different to bring to the table, whether it be a skill or a thought process. I watched as they worked as a team of many backgrounds to provide the best care possible for our patients. Looking back at my experiences with each therapist, I have confirmed that I want to be a physical therapist. I learned something from each and every one of them that I will someday have the opportunity to apply in my practice.

I also had the chance to work closely with many determined, caring patients, who constantly embodied the aloha spirit. From my patients I learned the power of perseverance. Watching them maintain determination over the course of a few weeks, a few months, or even the entirety of my time at F&L to reach their goals, was an enlightening experience. I truly realized the importance of teamwork in this field, where healthcare providers should work closely with their patients. This unique team is what makes our jobs worth it each and every day.

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Having the opportunity to work in almost all of the clinics, it opened my eyes to how closely the company works in order to carry out F&L’s mission and values in every location. Rather than each being their own separate entity, the clinics worked together to be one, united team. During my 6 months, I also had the unique chance to experience the company go through big changes. One of which, was seeing lots of hard work go into creating a new logo that embodies all that the company is. With such a distinctive model and outlook on physical therapy, F&L stands out and makes me hopeful for further growth in the PT world.

[one_half] Aside from building many close relationships and a strong sense of work identity, I also had the opportunity to explore Oahu, and remind myself to take some time to enjoy the little moments in life. For an island that is only 40 miles long and 30 miles wide, I never thought there would be so much to do. As a co-op group we were able to explore the wonders of Hawaii together, truly making the most of our weekends. From sliding down steep, muddy mountains on my okole (yay Hawaiian words) to maneuvering the paddle out to the mokes, we made endless memories together that I will hold onto for the rest of my life.

A special thank you to Liz, Stevie, Matt and Kyle, my Hawaii family, for making the better half of my 2017, even better. I learned from you guys and our many adventures to take a step back and take in the moment. A little rest and relaxation never hurts.  [/one_half]

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From my amazing patients to the special company of Fukuji&Lum, I thank you all for this incredible experience. I will miss each and every one of you very much, and I hope to see you someday soon.

Mahalo Nui Loa,

Grace Taylor

By Mark Yanai

Certified Functional Capacity Evaluator, Nicole Sato, M.O.T.

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Working Hard and Getting Certified

Nicole Sato joined F&L two years ago as the company’s first Occupational Therapist. Her journey has taken her to becoming a certified Functional Capacity Evaluator and the main cog for the Work Conditioning and Hardening Program. Since her arrival, the program has grown steadily and her certification will give her great opportunities to improve it.

In August, we both took a certification class from ErgoScience, a company founded in 1992 that has been a leader in industrial rehabilitation. Their researched based FCE is recognized nationally and internationally as a valid, reliable protocol that standardizes clinical measurement for function. With her knowledge of assessing functional performance, she will be able to improve patients’ ability to return to work, decrease risk of re-injury, and reduce costs for workers compensation insurances.
Our three days together at the class helped us get to know each other better and put together a plan to improve WORC.

Get to know Nicole!

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Where’s your hometown?
I was born and raised on Maui. Maui no ka oi! 

What’s your education background?

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[/one_half_last]I attended the University of Portland for my B.S. in Life Science and fine art minor then Pacific University in Hillsboro Oregon for my master’s in occupational therapy.

What are your specialties and what’s your home clinic?

I work at W.O.R.C. with our work conditioning and hardening (WC/WH) patients. I was first introduced to WC/WH as a student during rotations in Oregon and Maui. I really enjoyed being able to spend a longer amount of time with each patient so I could get to know them. It’s a unique setting that is structured yet allows for creativity suiting my personality well. W.O.R.C.’s open gym allows patients and therapists to interact freely which also makes for a fun and supportive environment. 

How did you get to be an Occupational Therapist?

I participated in an OT inpatient/acute care internship at a very fast paced hospital in Oregon during my senior year in college, but still wasn’t sure if it was something I was called to do. After college I decided to take some time off to work and volunteer at different types of therapy clinics to see if OT or even speech or physical therapy was for me. In the end, I concluded that OT fit my interests and passions best; I liked that OT had a heavy emphasis on mental health and overall holistic yet flexible approach to its definition of what being healthy may look like. I also appreciated that OT utilized a variety of modalities from exercises, to crafts, to everyday activities. There was so much room for creativity. 

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Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

My biggest influences have been my family and friends. I can’t sum up how they have done so in a quick blog post, but they have helped to shape my values and beliefs and have been supportive to me whether or not I appreciated it at the time. I’m very grateful for these relationships. Oh and my dogs, because they love unconditionally! 

What’s your first memory of F&L?

My first memory of F&L was meeting my boss Mark for the first time at W.O.R.C. over the weekend. I had just moved to Oahu and was a little nervous. I was really surprised that he was willing to meet up on his free time. I felt better after he walked in with his dog. I remember thinking he must be okay if he takes his dog with him to meet new employees.

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What do you like about working for F&L?

I appreciate how close and supportive our team is. We laugh a lot and can count on one another. We even willingly spend time with each other outside of work! I also have enjoyed working with patients from Hawaii after being on the mainland for so long. It has been a privilege to be even a small part of peoples’ lives. 

What’s your “why”?

Living the life that God has called me to live is central to who I am and what I do. I am an occupational therapist because I believe that I’ve been created for specific purposes and that others are too.I’ve always wanted people to know that their lives have meaning even when they’re experiencing difficult changes. I want people to feel cared for even if they do not fit society’s norms. I want people to laugh.
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Lastly, I want people to feel that they can do things that are important to them even if they are forced to do those things in a different way. Although I do not always answer this call perfectly, I hope to learn how to do this better every day.