We continue with the introductions of our most recent Co-ops. Meet Natalia, our newest addition to the Kailua clinic. Read about how her detour from the mainland to Hawaii for her next Co-op experience came about in our Q&A session below.
– What school did you attend in high school and what’s your current college?
I went to Jesuit High School in Portland, OR and moved to Boston for Northeastern University‘s six year DPT program.
– What drew you to physical therapy?
I’ve always known I wanted to be in the health profession, so in high school I did a lot of research and talked to a bunch of people from different careers. What struck me the most was how much physical therapists enjoyed their jobs and felt that their work was deeply rewarding and meaningful. I shadowed at an outpatient clinic and it was very inspirational to see the strong rapport PTs have with their patients and how hard they work to help their patients improve.
– Why did you want to do your Co-op in Hawaii?
I really enjoyed my last outpatient Co-op because I appreciated the depth of a relationship that can be built over a longer timeframe with patients seen in an outpatient clinic as opposed to a hospital setting. I decided the Hawaii Co-op would give me a new take on an environment that I’ve already had some experience with and plan to go in the future, as well as provide me the opportunity to learn fresh techniques, perspectives, and cultural values which will shape my practice down the line.
– What has been your experience like so far?
It’s been incredible! Honestly, everyone is so friendly and chill. I thought it would be hard to transition to a completely different culture and surroundings than what I’m used to, but I already never want to leave! I have never felt so stress-free and so physically and mentally healthy! I can tell these six months are going to fly by.
– What’s the strangest thing that you’ve eaten since arriving?
I would probably say the strawberry guava that we picked off the side of a trail during a hike in Temple Valley. It was delicious and not as strange of a texture as lilikoi, but just the fact that I could pick tasty, edible fruit to munch in the middle of our hike totally blew my mind! I also couldn’t figure out if I should eat the small seeds or spit them out!
– What is on your to do list while here?
My to do list mainly revolves around being fully immersed in the culture and experiences while I’m here and to take advantage of every moment. I am going to try and be outside as much as possible by swimming, biking, running and hiking O’ahu’s beautiful landscapes. My other main goal is to learn as much as I can from the unique culture and clinic opportunities, making sure I come away with an unforgettable educational experience.
– What are your outside interests?
I’m very into tea and I love to cook healthy and try new recipes. I bike everywhere back in Boston and enjoy reading outdoors whenever I get a chance. I really like petting people’s dogs and taking advantage of community volunteer opportunities.
– What kind of therapist do you hope to be?
I hope to be the kind of therapist who is constantly learning and bettering herself in order to best help other people, putting the well-being of my patients above all else. I really value education and continual learning which I believe is crucial for providing the best possible health care.
– Who is your greatest influence in your life?
That’s hard to say, because everyone I’m close to has influenced me in some way — my family, friends, teachers, peers, and coworkers alike. If I had to choose one person, I would say my sister. She’s the one who’s given me my love of outdoor adventure, shaped my taste in music and literature, and honed my skills in vegetarian cooking. She has showed me what it means to be a compassionate and altruistic individual. She has always encouraged me to follow my dreams and has been there whenever I’ve had to make tough decisions. She definitely is likely the reason why I chose a career in physical therapy.