By Abby

A Reflection on the Co-Op Experience

Olivia

Six months flew by and Olivia tells us how her experience in Hawaii will impact her long-term career in physical therapy. 

Aloha 🙂 I’m back on the blog, but from halfway across the globe. It has been a month and a few days since I left the best place on earth... and I miss it so, so much. Six months flew by incredibly fast, but I will remember my time with so much love and gratitude.

Who had the most impact on you during your time here?
I can’t pick one person. To say that I was impacted by every single person I met here, would be an understatement. First, I’ll start with my Kailua and Aqua crew. The clinicians and staff I worked with had an amazing depth of knowledge they shared with me, and I learned so much not only about physical therapy, but about life, relationships, confidence, spirituality, and connection.

I am so thankful to have learned from people I look up to, and now call them 'ohana. I learned a lot from the patients I worked with here too. They gave me great recommendations on how to have fun in Hawaii and what foods to try (shoutout Redfish poke bar). More importantly, they showed me that however big or small you help someone doesn’t matter, what matters is that you are trying to give to something bigger than you. So, I can make a mosaic from what I’ve learned from everyone that I met here and make a beautiful piece of art with it.

If you had to choose one word about your experience, what word would you choose?
Presence. There’s so much depth in this word for me. First, living on aloha time speaks for itself. Not that life is slower in Hawaii, but everyone is more ~present~, and they are deliberate with how they spend their time. One of my favorite things about Hawaii was that the people won’t avoid eye contact with you when you pass them on the street, they will smile and wave. Just a mere five seconds of human connection made such a difference in my day. Second, the environment brings you down to earth and makes you see life in abundance. From sunrise to sunset and everything in between, there were so
many creations to be grateful to witness. My favorite memories were made with my friends as we chased the sun and made it out to China Walls to spend the last few minutes with the sun that day, and so many people had the same idea. It was like we were in an outdoor movie theatre that played a golden sun set, and everyone felt present in it. So, not only does your presence matter to those around you, but you feel present in what’s happening around you.

From this experience, what intentions will you have going forward with your career?
I intend to take a whole body, and whole person approach going forward with my physical therapy career. I think this makes a huge difference in practice, as it allows you to evaluate a bigger picture and give rise to all the parts of someone that make them, them. This was my favorite foundational belief of F&L, and I will take it with me in my soon to be physical therapy career.

Best six months ever!!

Mahalo nui loa,
Olivia

By Abby

Aloha to Our Spring NEU Co-Op Students!

Hello, Annie!

We asked Annie what she looks forward to experiencing while in Hawaii and who her greatest influences are in life. She also explains why she was drawn to the PT profession. 

What school did you attend in high school and what's your current college?

Hey everyone! My name is Annie, and I am from Fremont, CA in the SF Bay Area. I went to Mission San Jose High School, where I swam and played water polo, and I’m currently in my fourth year of Northeastern’s 6-year DPT program. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be living and working in Hawaii for 6 months. It has only been a few weeks, but I am thoroughly enjoying my time at the LA and Honolulu clinics and Kokokahi pool. 

What drew you to physical therapy? - What kind of therapist do you hope to be?

When I was applying to colleges, I was so unsure about what I wanted to do for my future career. All I knew was that I wanted to be involved in the health sciences somehow. During this time, my swim coach introduced me to the world of physical therapy and movement science, which piqued my interest. So when Northeastern offered me the opportunity to be a part of their 6-year DPT program, I took a leap of faith (I didn’t even visit or tour the campus!) and accepted, and I am so glad I did. Going through the curriculum and meeting all the amazing PT faculty over the years have really solidified my passion for the job. There are few other professions where you get to interact with people at the same level as physical therapists, while helping them live their healthiest lives with just movement and exercise. You are able to build lifelong relationships with patients, and really make a difference in someone’s quality of life. There is also so much more to PT than just sports! After working with stroke patients at my last co-op, I have an interest in neurology, but I would like to explore pelvic health as well as aquatic therapy too. I don’t know what the future holds for me, whether it be in the outpatient or inpatient setting, but wherever I am, I hope to be a therapist that treats holistically, is creative, compassionate, and forever learning.

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?

I have always loved traveling and learning about different cultures, so when I found out there was a co-op in Hawaii, it seemed like a no-brainer. It also didn’t hurt that I would be skipping the cold Boston winter! And while Boston has been a wonderful city to live in the past couple years, I felt like I was getting too comfortable, so I wanted an experience where I would be challenged both in and out of the clinic. Before coming here, my only PT experience was in the inpatient setting, so when I was applying for my second co-op, I knew I wanted to expand my horizons to outpatient physical therapy. Fukuji and Lum seemed like that perfect place. 

What has been your experience like so far? - What is on your to-do list while here?

I have been loving every minute of my time here, and I am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of this beautiful culture. The staff at Fukuji and Lum have been so welcoming and understanding of all the mistakes I have made while learning the ropes in the clinic. They have shown me much kindness and go out of their way to teach me new techniques, special tests, and various exercises in their spare time. More than that, they have set an example for what patient care should be. It isn’t just about treating a patient’s physical injury, but also caring for their mental and emotional health. 

Outside of the clinic, the other co-ops and I have been able to hike the Lanikai pillboxes at sunrise, see the Manoa falls, tan on the various beaches along the North Shore, and watch people catch the big waves at Pipeline. I have also never eaten this much poke in my life, but I am definitely not mad about it. By the end of my time here, I’d love to have learned how to surf, go scuba diving, visit Pearl Harbor, and swim out to the Mokes. And being the big foodie that I am, I have a huge list of dishes I want to try while I’m here like poi, laulau, and loco moco. Every day, I am learning about a new hike or food spot to try out from various patients and staff. My to-do list just keeps getting longer and longer! I guess that means I’ll have to come back if I don’t get to it all!

Who is your greatest influence in your life?

There have been many people that have shaped me into the person I am today, but my parents have had the greatest influence in my life. They are my biggest cheerleaders and unconditional supporters; I owe many of my successes to them. They immigrated to the US from Taiwan and had to learn a completely different culture, language, and way of living. They have worked so hard and given up a lot for me and my sister to have the best life possible. I am inspired by them every day to work hard, be kind, and always try my best. I hope to make them proud and incorporate values they have instilled in me to be the best physical therapist possible for my patients. 

By Abby

Introducing our Spring Semester NEU PT Students!

Aloha Angela!

Angela tells us about how she became interested in becoming a physical therapist, what drew her to take this opportunity with F&L, and why she is loving her experience so far.

Hello everyone! I am Angela from Sammamish, Washington. I am currently in my fourth year of six at Northeastern University studying Physical Therapy. When I first accepted my offer to work here, it almost seemed too good to be true that I would be escaping the Boston winter to live in Hawaii for six months. I didn’t fully believe it until my plane physically landed on the island, and sometimes I still feel like I’m dreaming. So far, I am happy to be working at Fukuji & Lum Physical Therapy in the LA clinic and pool and have enjoyed getting to know my coworkers and all the patients. 

What drew you to physical therapy?

Though I had many interests in different potential careers while applying to colleges, the one thing I knew I wanted to do was to help people and take care of people directly. I grew up swimming, playing tennis, and running, which initiated my interest in human anatomy and physiology. I combined my hope to help others with those interests and realized that a career in healthcare, specifically physical therapy, would allow me to make a difference in a setting that suited me. Learning more about health through my college courses has also further confirmed my choice of a career in PT, and it has been so fascinating applying what I have learned in class with what I see daily at F&L!

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?

I wanted to co-op in Hawaii because I knew this opportunity would allow me to make the most of my co-op experience both in and outside of work. As much as I love Boston, I felt that I was too comfortable there and wanted to seek an experience where I could be challenged in a completely new environment. I have always been an adventurous person and loved traveling to new places, so this was the perfect way for me to immerse myself in another culture.

I worked at an inpatient setting for my first co-op, so for my last co-op I knew that I wanted work experience at an outpatient clinic. After talking to past co-ops of F&L I quickly learned that F&L was more than just a typical outpatient clinic, but a company that strives to treat everyone like a family. I knew that living and working in a place where the culture is so generous and kind-hearted would help me grow into a better future PT. Even though I’ve only been here for a month, I have already witnessed so much kindness from everyone at F&L and learned so much. My co-workers really go out of their way to teach me different exercises and explain their reasoning behind different treatment options for patients. For example, in my first week of work, Connor showed me how to cup and use Graston during her free time, and Colleen always has continued to keep me busy and let me go through exercises with patients. The pandemic may have slowed the pace of the clinic, but it is actually helping me understand the patients’ cases and PT’s rationale in more depth. Just observing how the staff treat their patients has also given me insight on how to go above and beyond in patient care. From the smaller acts such as walking a patient back to their car to make sure they are safe, to bigger acts such as supporting a patient’s local business on the weekend, the staff have set an example on how patient care is more than treating an injury. I hope to bring back this perspective and build on this for the rest of my career. 

What has been your experience like so far?

Outside of work, my experience in Hawaii has been so fun! With the pandemic, I am very grateful that I can still safely do many of the activities I have hoped to do before, since there is so much to do outdoors. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the other co-ops and we have already had some pretty unforgettable experiences such as driving into a flying chicken, and getting bullied by the waves at Bellows (there was sand in my hair for days). I have quickly learned that I am allergic to mosquitos, and that bug spray and sunscreen are my best friends. We have been on a few hikes such as Lanikai Pillbox for sunrise, Lulumahu Falls, and Koko Head Arch. We love going to the beach (Castles is our favorite!), and have tried so many delicious food places such as the soft serve from Banan and poke from Fresh Catch. I have also really enjoyed being able to capture photos of the different beautiful landscapes, and hope to take photos during more hikes in the next several months. I would like to kayak to the Mokes, and possibly even swim to the Mokes if I ever build up my endurance. I want to hike Stairway to Heaven and go to the Pink Pillbox. We also made plans to skydive on our last day in Hawaii. 

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?

Being exposed to both an inpatient and outpatient PT setting, I am still having a hard time figuring out which setting I like best. I love being in a hospital setting, but I also love the type of problem solving PTs do in an outpatient setting. Travel PT once I graduate may be an opportunity for me to work in both settings as well as experience new places. However, from both classes and co-op, it is safe to say that I am interested in pediatrics and neurology, and may specialize in one of them in the future. I still have a lot of time to think about what kind of therapist I want to be and still have so much to learn.

Who is your greatest influence in your life?

The greatest influence in my life is probably my parents and grandma. They inspired me to work hard and have integrity, and make the most of every opportunity. Hearing about how hard they worked to move from Taiwan to America for further education has inspired me greatly to never give up and follow my passions. My grandma had a challenging upbringing and faced many difficulties throughout her life, but when you meet her, she is full of joy. Seeing how positive she constantly is encourages me to look at life differently and see the good in every situation. 

 

By Deb Matsuura

Introducing our NEU Fall Semester PT Students!

Welcome Emily to the F&L 'Ohana!

Hi there! 🙂

I’m originally from Long Island, NY and graduated from Schreiber High School in Port Washington. I’m currently a 3rd year PT student at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.

I had always known I wanted to go into the healthcare field when I was growing up, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I discovered that physical therapy was the career for me. In my junior year of high school, I became interested in yoga; I loved to analyze how body movement and mechanics could influence how a person feels. The parallels between physical therapy and yoga in the physical aspect of exercise combined with the mindfulness of alignment is what ultimately led me to the decision to become a PT.

When we were first beginning to look at co-ops, Fukuji & Lum was the first to catch my eye-as a native New Yorker I was excited at the prospect of traveling somewhere warm. Once I began to research more about the company, I realized that there was so much more to this opportunity than just the location. I learned that this clinic would provide me with so much more than just a job in Hawaii, I would have the change to create lifelong friendships. The staff here at Fukuji & Lum are really one big happy family, and I’m so grateful to be able to learn and grow surrounded by such supportive and compassionate people.

It’s these same fantastic people who are introducing me to all of the amazing food here on the island! Between (socially distanced) potluck staff meetings and going away lunches, I’ve tried everything from musubi to malasadas and can’t wait to keep trying more.

I only got to sneak in a few hikes and beach days before the shut down, but I can’t wait to keep exploring and learning about Hawaii’s land and culture. I hope to be able to continue my adventures once it’s safe, but if not, I guess I’ll just have to come back and visit!

As I’ve begun to gain experience in the field of physical therapy, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly interested in specializing in Geriatric PT. I think there’s something so special about being able to restore or maintain strength and flexibility so that someone can continue to be healthy and active as they age. The Aquatic Therapy clinic has been especially helpful in teaching me strategies for helping a patient to improve balance and stability.

My passion for learning and teaching techniques for improving balance, posture, and alignment wouldn’t have begun if not for my mom. As a yoga instructor herself, she is the one who introduced me to the practice as well as most of the techniques I use stay mindful of my own movements.

I hope to be able to share these values with my patients and am so excited to begin my journey in the world of physical therapy!

By Deb Matsuura

NORTHEASTERN STUDENTS REFLECT ON COOP PROGRAM IN HAWAII

How Maddie D. Feels About Hawaii and Working at F&L

Someone asked me the other day how I felt about my choice to come to Fukuji & Lum for co-op. My answers over the past two weeks to all the questions have been along the lines of “I learned so much, it was amazing!” or “I miss it so much!” or even “I’m so cold!!” This time, however, I came out with “it was the best decision I’ve made in my life so far.” After three weeks of being home and readjusting to school, friends, and yes, the cold (it’s in the single digits today!), I think that’s the easiest and most encompassing way to sum it up.

One thing that keeps circling around my brain is just how grateful I am for the last 6 months and working alongside everyone at Fukuji & Lum. During my time here, I stepped outside my comfort zone in every aspect of life and learned so much about the physical therapy profession and myself along the way. The experiences I had stretch so far beyond what I can sum up into a quick conversation.

 

Living in Hawaii and working at Fukuji & Lum, I was exposed to such a variety of people—from the patients to my coworkers and beyond—and they all gave me something to take home in terms of how I want to continue to live my life. Everyone was so willing to teach me about their personal culture and background, and all my coworkers were willing to teach me more about PT and give me a sense of what I’m working towards. I will never forget how many times Myra spent any downtime that popped up teaching me different joint and soft tissue mobilizations, tests, etc. and how much it meant to me. Or that time Brad gave us all printouts and taught us more about Graston.

At the end of the day though, the people who had the most impact on me at Fukuji & Lum were the other three co-ops who took on this crazy experience with me. None of our other classmates had the same experience of walking into the first day of classes and immediately finding each other to hug and reunite after only a week (or two, we missed you Em!) apart. Coming home from work every day to debrief on the cool, interesting, and sometimes really difficult things we saw and dealt with that day really fostered that passion for PT in all of us regardless of whether we were sitting on the couch talking about documentation or hiking a mountain discussing PRI.

Being so far away from home, we really found a family within Fukuji & Lum and most of all we found one in one another, and that is something I will forever be grateful for. I currently live with Jada and on our way to class in the mornings we’ll talk about some of our favorite memories, and it’s really hit me that some of the most “mundane” moments are what impacted me the most. I will forever miss car rides home from North Shore driving slower so that we can make it through our playlist, and on all our hikes when I’d talk to whoever was behind me and Emily would call “WHAT?” because she wanted to feel included. I’ll remember holidays at the Hyland’s or trying to help Mana with her crossword puzzles.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a word to sum up the last 6 months, and finally settled on: Explore. All the highlights of the experience are really centered around that theme. I explore the island: found hikes, places, and formed memories that will stay with me forever. Hiking 3 peaks for sunrise with Casey on her last weekend before going back to school was just such an epic adventure which left me feeling so happy for days. Hiking Pali Notches with Irish or paddling out to Chinaman’s Hat with Reyn were two other highlights, I’ll forever remember how cool it was to go see places that were on my bucket list with some of the awesome people I met here. And of course, skydiving!! Come on, we went skydiving not once but twice (or three times, Jada)! The sense of happiness I felt on all the adventures the island had to offer will always stick with me.

And in the clinic, that exploration continued. I really expanded my knowledge of the profession and of what it means to be a physical therapist. Watching the PTs interact with their patients and form those relationships really showed me what kind of therapist I want to become one day. And meeting the patients, listening to their stories, and being there with them on some of their best days and their worst days taught me a lot about compassion and the trust that exists between patient and provider. I learned so much about myself as a person in and out of the clinic, and I hope that I can continue to take these experiences forward with me as I progress towards my future career. Aloha a hui hou and mahalo nui loa, F&L!! Thank you for learning and growing as a family with me over the past half-year.

By Deb Matsuura

Northeastern Students Reflect on Coop Program in Hawaii

Jada M. Reflects on Hawaii Stay

January, 2020

What was the one experience that you think was the highlight of the experience? One in the clinic and one outside the clinic.

It’s so hard to boil down 6 months of time in and out of the clinic into 1 experience. I think the highlight of my experience in the clinic is hearing a patient tell me that I “changed the course of her recovery” by modifying her exercise program when she was having a bad day physically. She expressed that she was surprised that a student could modify her program to fit her needs and was impressed that I was able to do more than “go through the motions”. This is all due to the PTs who gave me the tools & knowledge to be able to do so. Positive feedback like that from patients is my favorite kind of feedback.

Outside of the clinic, the highlight of the experience was definitely skydiving! (all 3 times!). It had been on my bucket list since I can remember and I didn’t even think about it before going for the first time. Definitely one of the coolest, most exhilarating things I’ve ever done!

Who had the most impact on you during your time here?

So many people impacted me during my time at F&L. Patients, PTs, PTAs, techs and of course my fellow co-ops. My experience wouldn’t have been the same without the other co-ops who I now call some of my best friends. I am grateful to have been able to work and live with them, there is truly no group of people I would rather spend 6 months in Hawaii with. I would say the person who had the biggest impact on me at work was Connor. Working with her all day in the clinic was so much fun, and I learned so much not only about how to treat patients clinically, but how to make patients feel comfortable and at ease during their treatment. Working with her showed me that a lot of being a PT is listening to your patients and making them feel validated and heard. I hope I am able to interact with patients the way she does when I get my degree, and I will definitely use the things I learned from her for the rest of my career!

 

What was the most surprising thing that you did not expect?

The most surprising part of co-op for me was how incredibly welcoming the patients were and how willing to work with students they were. Of course I expected them to be friendly, but every patient went out of their way to make us feel at home in Hawaii. They were so willing to work with us and treat us the same way they treat the PTs. I was blown away by their kindness and by the relationships I was able to build with so many of them.

What experience or person change your belief about what physical therapy is?

I worked with a patient who was having a really tough day, and just talked with them while doing exercises in the pool. I spent most of the time just listening to what they were upset about, and making sure they felt validated. At the end of the session, the patient hugged me and said “Thank you for listening to me”. It’s simple, but it made me realize that as a PT, you can do more than just take away someone's physical pain. You can make them feel better just by showing them that you care about them as a person, not just about their injury.

From this experience, what intentions will you have going forward with your career?

Before this experience, I was absolutely set on going into sports medicine and nothing else, but after working with Jocelyn at the pool, I’ve decided that later in my career I would love to work in women’s health and maternity! Going forward, I could also see myself back at Fukuji & Lum in the future.

 

Describe your overall experience in Hawaii. (i made this question up)

There is no way I could sum up this experience into one word, because it is so much more than just one thing. During the past 6 months, I’ve come to learn that Hawaii is a special place. Not only because of its beauty, but because of the quality of the people who live there. Living on Oahu has shown me why it’s so hard for people to leave, and why many who end up there never do. It didn’t take long to feel like I was home on Oahu, and Fukuji & Lum certainly helped with that. F&L truly embodies the “Aloha lifestyle” as they treat everyone with such kindness, respect, and open mindedness. All these things are what make both Oahu and F&L unique. I felt so loved and cared for during my entire time on co-op and truly felt like I had a family ready to accept me with open arms.

Each experience I had felt like it was once in a lifetime, and looking back on each one feels like reliving a dream. I went skydiving, snorkeling with sharks, swimming with dolphins, zip lining in the rainforest, surfing, hiking, jumping off waterfalls, boating along the Na Pali coast, island hopping to Kauai, and so much more. The fact that those are all “bonuses” to all the things I learned in the clinic and at the pool is incredible. I have gained more clinical skills & knowledge about physical therapy than I ever have in the classroom and have improved my patient interactions skills tremendously. My life has been forever changed by this experience and I could not be more grateful for my F&L 'Ohana for taking me in and making this experience everything that it was. I will forever have a special place in my heart for Oahu and for Fukuji & Lum.

 

By Deb Matsuura

Introducing Co-op Jada!

We welcome Jada to the F&L O'hana. She works over at Kokokahi, at our Kaneohe clinic and Aquatic Therapy pool. Here's a little bit about Jada and her journey to becoming a PT student at NEU.

I attended Saranac Lake High School and currently attend Northeastern University. 

When I was a kid, I wanted to go to the Olympics for track & field. I had my heart set on being an olympian for a long time, so when I realized that it seemed like a long shot, I decided that if I couldn’t run in the olympics, I wanted to surround myself with people who did. I found out that physical therapy is such an incredible way to stay involved in athletics and be able to be a part of the athlete’s journey to success. 

 

I decided early on that I wanted to do a co-op outside of Boston because I love to travel and experience new places, and this was an opportunity to not only go somewhere beautiful, but to experience a completely new culture, climate, setting, and way of life. Doing a co-op in a place like Hawaii is really more than just a co-op. In addition to getting all of the amazing professional experience, we also get to explore a totally different part of the world in such a unique way. We only have a few opportunities to immerse ourselves in a totally new place so I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity and make it count. 

My experience in Hawaii so far has been incredible. The patients at Fukuji & Lum have been amazing and are always ready to welcome us with food, plenty of suggestions and local tips & tricks to navigate the island. The staff has also been incredible, making us feel so welcome and like we really are a part of the family. One of the greatest things I’ve noticed about Hawaii so far is that the people here are so accepting of everyone. Regardless of your identity or what you look like, the locals treat everyone with respect and love and that is so inspiring. I can definitely understand why people don’t leave this place, it feels like home in the blink of an eye. 

The strangest thing I’ve eaten since arriving has probably been poke, just because I had never had it before and don’t even eat sushi at home! 

My to-do list is insanely long, but some of the big things are skydiving, ziplining, learning how to surf, and hopefully finding a way to hike stairway to heaven. 

One day, I hope to be a therapist working with world class athletes. Sports medicine is what lead me to physical therapy in the first place, so I can’t wait to see where that can take me. Whether I’m on the side of the track doing PT for olympic track athletes or on the ice being a team PT for a professional hockey team, I want to be right in the action. I hope to be the kind of therapist that these athletes trust to keep them strong and help them get back on their feet to continue doing what they love!

There are so many people that have influenced me and helped me become the person I am today. My biggest influences overall would have to be my family. My parents, grandparents and whole extended family have always been so supportive of me and have encouraged me to follow my interests. One of my biggest influences also has to be Allyson Felix, the Olympic track and field athlete. She is such an inspiration to me because of her work ethic, attitude and resilience. Following her journey has shown me how important it is to not let disappointments and failures keep you down!

Jada

By Deb Matsuura

Here’s Maddi!

What school did you attend in high school and what's your current college?

I grew up in central Massachusetts and attended Tantasqua Regional High School, which combines my town, Sturbridge, and four other small neighboring towns. For college I attend Northeastern University as part of the 6 year DPT program. 

What drew you to physical therapy?

When I was in high school I went to PT for an injury from running track. I had a great relationship with my physical therapist and loved how figuring out the best exercises for me was sort of like a puzzle, or putting the pieces all together. When I went off to college I started as a Biochemistry major, because I thought I wanted to go to medical school or do research. After first semester and getting to be exposed to what each of those routes would be like, I felt out of place. My mind just kept circling back to how interesting I’d always found physical therapy (I even did a project on it in high school!) and how it just felt like such a better fit. 

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?

I really wanted to get out of Massachusetts for a while, and I wanted to go somewhere completely different. All of the previous co-ops I talked to spoke about how much they felt this experience helped them to grow both in their career aspirations and also as an individual. I felt like I was at a time in my life where I really needed that change and to immerse myself in a new culture and setting. Doing my co-op at F&L seemed like the perfect opportunity for what I was craving. 

What has been your experience like so far?

I can’t even begin to describe how positive it’s been! It’s been one month since I arrived and since then, I’ve been blown away by everything I’ve seen and everyone I’ve met. Everyone who has worked with me so far can confirm that I’m loving all the hiking the island has to offer and am eager to get out and explore so much more. I’ve been trying to learn to surf and while the wipe outs aren’t fun, I’m still enjoying it. One of my favorite experiences I’ve had so far was waking up to go see the sunrise from Lanikai pillboxes on my day off. Overall I’m really enjoying the lifestyle Hawaii has to offer and it’s causing me to adapt and adjust to the differences between here and New England (like the speed limit?!? Everyone drives so slow)  

What's the strangest thing that you've eaten since arriving?

I haven’t eaten anything “strange” yet, so I think you guys need to work harder… I’ve tried poke which was awesome, kalua pork, taro chips, purple yam ice cream, and some various Hawaiian candies. I guess the strangest thing I’ve eaten then would have to be haupia because I ate it before I had any idea what it was. 

What is on your to do list while here?

To get through the giant lists everyone has given me of recommendations. A couple of my big “to-do’s” include getting to the Mokes, Chinaman’s hat, Crouching Lion, Olomana, and (the legal way to) Stairway to Heaven. Overall, I want to get in as much hiking as possible! I also want to explore the North Shore more and go to Waimea Bay. I’d love to get over to Kauai and see the Na Pali coast. Juliet and I also signed up to do the Xterra half marathon at Kualoa Ranch in November, so whether I like it or not that’s on my to do list too. 

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?

A good one. But actually… I want to be the kind of PT that develops a good relationship with their patients. I want my patient to be able to trust me enough to develop a program that works for them, and I want to be the type of PT that they feel is invested in their progress. I think being a physical therapist requires a lot of problem solving, and then also requires you to be able to explain the solution. I want to be a therapist who is able to work with different patients so that they feel their plan is personalized and targets them as a person and not just a diagnosis. As far as specifics go, I haven’t quite figured out yet what type of population or setting I want to work with/in. 

Who is your greatest influence in your life?

Is it a cop out to say my family? My parents have each influenced me immensely in their own separate ways. My mom inspires me to have a thirst for adventure and to be unapologetically myself and has really been there as a strong female role model throughout my life. She reminds me to always pursue new experiences and has taught me that change and forced independence are great teachers. My dad has shaped how I think about and view the world so much. He forces me to challenge myself and to look at problems with a different perspective to find a better solution. He is one of the smartest people I know and has always described to me the importance of pursuing your passion. My sister teaches me how to love people with your whole heart and is one of the strongest people I know, she influences me with her perseverance and passion for what she cares about. 

By Deb Matsuura

F&L Fall Semester Co-ops Are Here!

F&L is very proud and excited to have four new Northeastern Co-ops this fall. They all wrote their own blogs and will be featured individually in our Happy at Work Blog throughout the month.

Let's meet Juliet! She will be working with our Work Comp/No Fault patients at WORC and learning all about Aquatic Therapy at our Kaneohe pool.

 

What school did you attend in high school and what's your current college?

I went to Kennedy Catholic High School in Westchester, New York, and I just finished my second year as an undergraduate in Northeastern’s 6-year DPT program.

What drew you to physical therapy?

As a lifelong dancer, I have always been fascinated by how the parts of the body work together to produce movement – whether it is as simple as reaching to the top cabinet to put a glass away or as complex as completing 16 consecutive pirouettes en pointe without losing balance. When I was an Achilles tendonitis patient in high school, I was intrigued by the multiple PT clinics I visited and therapists I worked with. Despite having positive experiences, I wished I had encountered a therapist with a dance background, and with that thought, I saw my future self as a potential solution to my situation. Since high school, I have spent time exploring by taking classes in anything that sparked my interest, from stem cells to food justice, and journalism to biopsychology, yet human anatomy remained front and center. I even had the opportunity to work in a biology research lab as a freshman in college, and while I loved the end goal of the lab’s work, pipetting and test tubes seemed far removed from the people I wanted to help. This quickly helped me to understand my desire to take my passion for biology, the body, and problem solving, and apply it in a way that would directly help people to return to an improved physical state. Every day, I return home from working in the clinic and the pool with a growing certainty that physical therapy is a profession that will not only give me a purpose, but more importantly, grant me the opportunity to help others return to their purposes.

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?

I love to explore, and one of my passions is traveling the world to experience how people of different cultures live their daily lives. I had been to Hawaii with my family on vacation and I fell in love with the scenery but missed out on the culture; it’s tough to get a full cultural experience as a tourist. When I heard about a co-op opportunity that would allow me to be less of a tourist and more of a resident in a place that could not be more beautiful, it rose to the top of my list. Talking with the previous co-ops about their experiences at Fukuji & Lum only fueled my desire to live and work here even more. Hearing their stories about how welcoming the entire work community was and how much they learned about treating patients holistically resonated with my values and goals as a future therapist.

What has your experience been like so far?

My experience has been absolutely incredible. I come home from work every day in awe of how everyone really does seem to be “happy at work,” and I think of how lucky I am to be here. The entire F&L community has been so kind, welcoming, inclusive, and eager to help us learn, and patients have been so happy to work with us even though we are still beginners.  Time seems to fly in the clinic because there is always something to do – a patient to help, a new exercise or skill to master, a note to write, a conversation to have. One of the therapists convinced me to start coming for 6am workouts before the work day, and although I have never been a fan of early morning workouts, something about going in early and starting my day sweating with them has been such a positive experience. Outside the clinic, weekends are packed full of adventures: hikes, beaches, snorkeling, arts festivals, and more. I did not know the other co-ops very well before coming here and it has been fun getting to know them and to explore with them these past few weeks. I am so excited for the rest of this experience and will try to soak in as much as I can before returning to the Boston cold!

What's the strangest thing that you've eaten since arriving?

Lychee! It was extra special because it was from a coworker’s tree back home in Kauai. And although I would not consider it strange, poke is my favorite meal I have eaten (more times than I would like to admit) since arriving.

What is on your to do list while here?

My to-do list already seemed never-ending before I arrived, but after all the recommendations from patients and coworkers, I think I could live here for 6 years instead of 6 months and still not get to everything! The list includes too many hikes to name them all, skydiving, windsurfing & surfing, watch a surfing competition at the North Shore, lots of snorkeling, go to a luau, visit the Mermaid Caves, take a hula class, swim with sharks (maybe?), run the half marathon at Kualoa Ranch, try poke from every spot recommended by patients, go camping for a weekend, kayak to the Mokes, walk/swim out to Chinaman’s Hat… it really just never ends!

On a more personal level, I am really looking forward to using this time away from school and home to discover a greater purpose and to further develop goals for myself as a therapist. I am also hoping to impact the lives of patients and to give back to the community here, even if only in a small way. I’ll follow up on that in the final reflection!

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?

While I am still unsure of which route I would like to take within the PT field, I hope to be the therapist that my patients need at the moment in their lives that we happen to meet. While that is a lofty aspiration, I will work my hardest to make it a reality because every patient deserves a therapist who sees him/her not as an injury or condition, but instead as a person. I want to continue learning long after I graduate to keep up with the latest research that could potentially help my patients. I hope to be creative and to think critically like the therapists at WORC when they come up with exercises that mimic activities in patient’s work environments to help heal and strengthen them before they return to their jobs. I hope to be confident enough in my knowledge base to be able to adapt my style to fit various personalities and lifestyles that patients may lead – be more stern with some if necessary, humorous with others, a shoulder to lean on for someone who may need it at the time – and most of all, I hope to be empathetic and to help my patients understand that they are more than whatever injury or condition might be weighing them down.

Who is your greatest influence in your life?

My parents have always been the greatest influence in my life, although I am so fortunate to have met many other wonderful influences along the way, too. My mom’s compassionate, empathetic nature has allowed her to constantly support and encourage me and to instill in me the importance of giving back to the community. My dad has never stopped inspiring me to be intellectually curious – he reminded me every day before middle and high school that my end goal was to learn as much as I could from every situation, every textbook, every conversation. Whether it was playing the “hard question game” with me on rides to dance and gymnastics as a kid, taking long walks with me on the beach or in a foot of snow to talk things out, or sitting front and center at every dance recital, my parents have never stopped giving their all for me or being my number one fans. Mahalo, Mom and Dad!!

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.  

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