By Deb Matsuura

A New Normal

“We sense that a new normal isn’t coming back, that we are being born into a new normal: a new kind of society, a new relationship to the earth, a new experience of being human” (Charles Eisenstein).

Things are changing around us. True to the nature of change itself, it is rapid and unpredictable. As humans, we tend to fear change. It challenges us, makes us uncomfortable, and forces us to modify our “normal.” In these particular times, our “normal” has been challenged more than ever. Our everyday lives have suddenly been entirely uprooted: routines thrown out the window and plans for the future in shambles. Grocery shopping has transformed from a mundane Sunday morning task, to a weekly mission out into a threatening world to hopefully replenish supplies. Celebrations, hugs, and gatherings have reduced to emails, calls, and “Zoom” meetings. Is our community gone?

As we sit in our living rooms binge watching Netflix or puzzling until our hands hurt, it is easy to feel alone. Isolated. In a world of social distancing, a sense of community feels lost. For the health of us and those around us, we must respect rules to stay 6 feet away, to cancel large gatherings, and to avoid physical touch. We must postpone weddings, cancel graduations, and host virtual birthday parties. These gatherings are lost. These events are absent. But the community isn’t.

Community is not the gatherings we host. Community is not the events we attend. Community is the people: the people who love, who support, and who care. The Oxford dictionary has many definitions of community, most beginning with phrases such as “a group of people..” or “a feeling of fellowship...” Funny enough, not one starts with a place or a thing. So although there are places we cannot travel to, and things we cannot do, we are not isolated. Our people are still there. Our people still love, still support, and still care. Let’s celebrate it.

Our Fukuji & Lum ohana wants to celebrate our community with acknowledgement and appreciation. We will begin spotlighting members of our team in blog posts to highlight how each member is sharing their love and light.

I would like us to think back to our retreat at the start of the year. As I think back, I remember a room full of people who I was still just meeting, with lots of unfamiliar faces warmly introducing themselves and encouraging me to share what I loved most about my new home here in Hawaii.  The energy and love of this group of people cued me into that I was joining something special. This was the start of a new adventure. Ironically, we spent that afternoon learning and reflecting on change and its impact in our lives. We all had different experiences with recent change: from becoming new parents to losing people dear to our heart. There was one commonality, however. From our change, came growth.

So, as we circle back to change, we recognize that it is uncomfortable and it is challenging. However, we also honor that these feelings, if acted upon, reap evolution and transformation. So how will we adapt to our change? How will we grow from it? We will soon see how our ohana are adapting to continue loving and growing as family. The change that is happening around us does not discriminate. Everyone must adapt. Everyone must find a new normal. In this shared experience, our community grows stronger. So as Eisenstein urges, let’s tap into our new normal. Let’s embrace our new society, relationship with earth, and our new experience being human.

With love and gratitude,

Maddie

By Deb Matsuura

NORTHEASTERN STUDENTS REFLECT ON COOP PROGRAM IN HAWAII

Emily W. Describes Coop Experience as "Transformative"

If I had to describe my experience working at Fukuji and Lum Physical Therapy, it would be: transformative. When deciding where to co-op, I was so nervous about traveling so far from home that I almost did not accept the offer. However, after spending 6 months at Fukuji and Lum I can honestly say that this experience has been the highlight of my life. It allowed me to gain a new perspective on not only physical therapy but also on myself and how I will choose to live going forward.

One of Fukuji and Lum’s mission statements is “to love and grow, as a family.” I find that the word family is often tossed around in flyers and ads without much significance, but at this clinic, they truly mean it. Before my trip, I was worried that I would be homesick living so far from my family and friends. However, this was never a problem because I had all the support and love that I needed right here. My co-workers went out of their way to make sure that we were adjusting well, even welcoming us into their homes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

From the moment I arrived, I could tell that this clinic is an ‘Ohana in which people deeply care about one another, celebrating each other’s victories and being there as a support system during more difficult times. This was reflected both in the clinic with my co-workers as well as at home with my roommates. I did not know any of the other Northeastern co-op students before coming, but after living together, exploring the island, and sharing our thoughts and experiences with each other we left feeling as close as sisters. I feel so supported in life knowing that no matter where I end up, I will always have the other co-ops by my side as well as an entire group of therapists in Hawaii who will have my back and be there to give me advice when I need it.

In addition to welcoming me into their family, my mentors at F&L also had a significant impact on how I view the profession and my belief about what physical therapy is. They helped show me how to have a holistic approach and that PT is about treating the patient and not the injury. One of the therapists I worked with would ask every patient he met, “what do you love to do” or “what is your passion.” He then made it his mission to adapt the patient’s treatment to help meet individualized goals and ensure that they could get back to doing the activities that fuel their spirit and make them who they are.

At Fukuji and Lum, the therapists do everything in their power to make each patient feel valuable and give them the time and attention that they need. After talking with friends back home, I realized this is not always the case and is something that makes F&L special. I had one patient who would often come into the clinic feeling gloomy and down. After talking throughout the session while creating a positive and encouraging atmosphere, she would leave the clinic with her head held high and a smile on her face. Just knowing that we could help turn someone’s day around and make them feel better both physically and emotionally was incredibly moving and something that I did not realize was part of the job.

Additionally, the therapists I worked with were never narrow sighted and did not limit their attention to the exact location of the problem. Instead they helped me understand how everything in the body is connected and that sometimes you need to strengthen or re-align a different part of the body in order to address the source of pain/injury and help the individual return to their full functioning self.

One of the most surprising things that I did not expect to learn on co-op was how to be myself in a clinical setting. When professors discuss professionalism in class, it often makes it seem as if you have to act almost robotic and very serious in clinical settings. However,

the nurturing relationships that I formed with my co-workers allowed me to feel comfortable opening up and being myself in the clinic. I realized that I could still have a fun and goofy personality while remaining professional and gaining respect from patients. I think that letting down the walls that I had put up actually enabled me to become closer with my patients and form more genuine and trusting bonds, which can really alter how a patient responds to therapy.

One of the highlights of my experience inside the clinic was getting to form close bonds with some of my patients. One patient in particular was an elderly woman who even changed her schedule to make sure that she could come in on days that I would be working. Every week, we would spend the session talking about the different things going on in each other’s lives while going through various exercises. On my last day of co-op, the patient held my hand and looked me in the eyes as she thanked me for helping her get stronger because now she was able to leave the house and go to activities with her family. In that moment, I could feel how sincere the patient was and how much of a difference that therapy made in her life, which was by far one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

The best part of my experience outside of the clinic was getting to explore the island with my roommates. Every weekend we got to go on a new adventure, whether it was finding a new beach, learning to surf, experiencing a different part of Hawaiian culture/ history, or going on a hike. No matter what we did, the scenery was breathtaking and unlike anything else I had ever seen before. This helped me realize that there are so many opportunities and adventures in any place that you live if you make the effort to find them. Immersing myself in the culture and making the effort to explore and find so many new and exciting things changed my mindset of how I want to spend my time in life. I no longer want to waste so much time sitting around inside. I now know that I want to push myself to get out and discover different events and opportunities around me in any place that I live in order to get the most out of life.

The main takeaway that I have from this experience that is unique to co-oping at Fukuji and Lum is practicing physical therapy with the aloha spirit. This spirit is everywhere at the clinic, both within those working there as well as the patients. This positive and loving atmosphere pushed everyone to grow together which I believe leads to better patient outcomes. This is something that I will hold dear to my heart and carry with me as I try to live and breath aloha no matter what clinic I work in.

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

Aloha Emily!

Emily, our second Co-op this semester, travels back and forth over the mountain from the Kailua to the Honolulu Clinic every week. She shares a little about herself and her experience so far being on the island.

I am a 3rd year physical therapy major at Northeastern University in Boston. I grew up just outside Philadelphia where I attended Methacton High School.

My greatest influence in life has always been my mom. She is such a kind-hearted person who always puts the needs of others before herself. She is a pediatric physical therapist and her endless passion and love for the job is what first inspired me to pursue physical therapy. My family also runs a therapeutic horseback riding program, which I have volunteered for ever since I was a kid. This experience teaching kid’s exercises and seeing the impact that physical therapy can have on a person’s life reaffirmed my desire to enter this profession. I hope that my exposure to using various therapeutic methods with different types of patients while on co-op will give me a better idea of what type of physical therapy I want to specialize in. I also love teaching, so someday I would like to become an instructor for courses and train other therapists skills that they can use to help their patients.

I knew that I wanted to do my co-op at Fukuji and Lum after having coffee with some of the previous co-ops. They emphasized how the clinic values forming relationships with patients, using a holistic approach to patient care, and creating a positive atmosphere to make physical therapy fun. This resonated with the type of therapist that I aspire to be and was something that I felt I would not find in any of the clinics in Boston. In addition to everything that Fukuji and Lum had to offer, the previous co-ops also talked a lot about the aloha spirit and relaxed nature of people living in Hawaii. I want to grow as a person while on co-op and I hope that living in this atmosphere for 6 months will help me learn to slow down, live in the moment, and take time to appreciate the people and events going on around me.

My experience here thus far has been incredible. Everyone at the clinic has been so welcoming and helpful as I get settled in. The way that people all treat each other like family here has made it very easy to feel at home. The views everywhere are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and I love how every weekend there is always something new and exciting to do. It has also been amazing to try some of the local foods the island has to offer. The strangest thing I’ve eaten so far was poi. It’s color and texture made it so different from anything I’ve eaten before, but I ended up really liking it! While I’m here, I can’t wait to go on as many hikes and explore as many beaches as possible. I would also love to go skydiving, ziplining, camping, kayak to the Mokes, snorkel, do yoga on the beach, and learn to surf.

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 Deb Matsuura

Mahalo from Taylor

My time in Hawaii has come to an end, unfortunately. A lot of things have changed since my last reflection, I became more efficient with time in clinic, cultivated PT skills, created a new Ohana in Hawaii and my hair grew an inch or two. My time at F&L was very enjoyable from talking story with patients or learning new PT techniques. The staff at F&L created a comfortable and positive environment, to allow students to grow not only in their skills but in their thinking as well.
F&L offered everything; both physical therapy knowledge or tips for after graduating and best spots to check out. I was able to explore the beautiful islands of Hawaii, especially while hiking. All the locals knew where to cruise through and here are some of the beautiful views and Ono grindz Hawaii has to offer. Mahalo nui loa to the Fukuji & Lum PT Ohana for all the great experiences and teaching moments during my six months!
Mahalo,
Taylor
By Hillary Lau

Meet Victoria, our Health Science Northeastern University Co-Op!

F&L was fortunate enough to obtain seven Northeastern University Coops this semester, one of whom is Victoria, a Health Science student. Although she is not a physical therapy student, Victoria is able to use her health science background and knowledge to assist the therapists in many ways as well as experience all the aspects of being in an out-patient care clinic.

Let's meet Victoria and read about her experiences working at F&L and living in Hawaii.

What school did you attend in high school and what's your current college?
I went to Dartmouth High School in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. I currently attend Northeastern University as a 2nd year Health Science student.

Why were you drawn to health science?
I was drawn to health science after interning at my local board of health in my hometown during high school. It was the first time that I discovered the many different paths there are into the health care field and I wanted to learn more about this in college. Health science has given me the flexibility to explore all aspects of health care from public policy to health care ethics and even physical therapy!

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
I wanted to co-op in Hawaii because I wanted a change of pace to the lifestyle that I grew up with and Hawaii’s culture and weather were certainly different from what I am used to. The immediate sense of “ohana”, the never-ending feeling of adventure, and the warmth of the sun almost every day of the year were all things that drew me to Hawaii, but most of all it was the opportunity to meet new people and explore new cultures.

What has been your experience like so far?
My experience so far has been amazing!  I will be the first to admit that many things scare me - bugs, heights, sharks, tropical diseases, more bugs, etc... -  but thanks to my incredible friends and fellow-co-ops I have been able to go out of my comfort zone and explore this beautiful island following their lead and sense of adventure. I’ve been able to have a lot of firsts here in Hawaii - my first hike, first kayak on the ocean, first paddle boarding, first cliff jump, first time driving a standard car -  and I can’t wait for the many more firsts yet to come.

What's the strangest thing that you've eaten since arriving?
Natto, a fermented soybean, is probably the strangest thing I have eaten here. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever eaten, but it’s not great either - it’s definitely an acquired taste. I am glad though that it made my co-workers happy watching me try to eat it.

What is on your to do list while here?
It feels like I’ve already done so much, but I would still love to visit Kauai, perhaps go camping there, continue to learn about the community and people on the island and about physical therapy, and, of course, eat all the local food!

What are your plans for the future?
After graduating with my degree I plan to go to medical school and hopefully work in family medicine or pediatrics with a focus in public health. I’d like to work with the U.S. Public Health Service or other public service to provide aid and medical support to underserved communities at home and abroad. Anywhere I go though, I hope to be a compassionate, knowledgeable, and team-oriented provider like the PTs I’ve been able to work with here.

Who is your greatest influence in your life?
The greatest influence in my life is my Dad. He loved unconditionally, questioned everything, and rolled with the punches. He showed me how to work hard and keep dreaming and I am forever grateful for this life he showed me how to live.