By Abby

Introducing our Spring Semester NEU PT Students!

Aloha David!

We welcome David to the F&L ‘Ohana as he spends his Spring Semester with us. He writes about how he became interested in physical therapy and his first few weeks being a co-op in Hawaii!

Hey everyone,

My name is David, and I’m a Northeastern University physical therapy student from Cupertino, CA currently on co-op here at Fukuji and Lum. I went to Cupertino High School, where I played baseball and sang in choir. I enjoy anything and everything from working out, playing sports, hiking, and going to the beach to singing songs from musicals, watching movies, and cooking. 

I chose to study physical therapy because it is a discipline that requires a combination of expertise in the human body and how it functions along with constant patient interaction. A healthy human body should function like a well-oiled machine, and when a patient presents with a dysfunction, I find myself excited to solve the puzzle and figure out what tools, anything ranging from manual therapy to exercise prescription, I can use to help that patient ultimately achieve their goals. I feel extremely lucky to be on co-op here and spend the next few months in paradise! I get to escape the frigid Boston winter, learn from exceptionally knowledgeable clinicians, and acquire hundreds of hours of hands-on experience. What more could I ask for?

My first 6 weeks working at Fukuji and Lum have been amazing to say the least. I’ve already been able to apply knowledge and skills from previous coursework at Northeastern in my patient care and build upon that with new information and tips from PTs and PTAs I’ve worked with. When I’m not at work (and not sleeping in), I do my best to get outdoors and appreciate all the breathtaking views the beautiful island of O’ahu has to offer. My fellow co-ops and I have been perfecting our tans at several beaches, enjoying the addicting local cuisine, and working off those calories by going on different hikes. Although I feel like I’ve done so much in the past 6 weeks, there’s so much more I still need to do. I’d love to leave Hawai’i in July knowing how to surf, having kayaked to the Mokes, and having conquered the Kokohead Stairs in under 30 minutes, just to name a few of the items on my to-do list. 

In the future, I hope to be a therapist that embodies the values instilled in me when I was growing up. My parents taught me everything I know and believe about respect, humility, and kindness. The way I practice, no matter what setting I am in or what patient population I am working with, will incorporate all of those values and translate into the highest quality of care for my patients. I hope that one day I will be able to pass on the wisdom I gained through my career as a PT and serve as a role model and mentor for younger students and those just entering any healthcare profession. 

Here’s to an amazing co-op experience!

David

By Abby

Introducing our Spring Semester NEU PT Students!

Welcome, Maddie!

Maddie is a fourth year student at Northeastern University and writes about her excitement to live in a different part of the country, working towards her goal of becoming a physical therapist. We are so excited for Maddie to join our F&L 'Ohana!

 

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

Hi I’m Maddie! I grew up in Arcadia, California which is a suburb of Los Angeles, and attended Arcadia High School. I applied to many different colleges, but as soon as I was accepted into the DPT program at Northeastern University I accepted without so much as a campus tour or visit, I was so excited to move across the country and start a new journey. Little did I know back then that I would be moving across the country again 4 years later to work here at Fukuji & Lum for six months. 

What drew you to physical therapy?

There is no one reason that I chose physical therapy as my profession, but rather when I looked at the sum of my personality traits and interests it just made sense. I grew up doing ballet, and have been dancing basically since I learned how to walk. Growing up dancing provided me with a huge appreciation of human movement, it taught me that movement can be not only functional, but actually beautiful. As I got older and saw how different injuries affected the lives of people I knew, dancers and regular people alike- I knew that was something that I wanted to help people with. I also knew that I would function better in an active career where I am physically and mentally challenged. These things, combined with my interest in science and problem-solving nature, led me to choose physical therapy. 

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii? What has been your experience like so far? What is on your to-do list while here?

Ever since hearing about this co-op opportunity when I was a freshman in college, I knew I wanted to come here. I am an adventurous person, and am always seeking out new opportunities and experiences, so as hard as it was to decide to leave my friends and the home I had created in Boston, applying to come work here in Hawaii was a step I was excited to take. Especially during a pandemic, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to travel and explore Hawaii while also getting valuable clinical experience. So far, I have had an incredible experience here in Hawaii, being here has given me so many opportunities to push the boundaries of what I thought I could do, both in the clinic and outside of it. I am so grateful to all the staff members that I have worked with so far at F&L for being such inspiring and effective therapists, and especially for taking the extra time and energy to always include me and create learning opportunities along the way. Outside of the clinic, I have been able to explore the island, going on different hikes and adventures every weekend, and trying new Hawaiian foods. From relaxing beach days to strenuous hikes that result in being covered in mud head to toe to the mask tan I have from working at the pool, I can truly say I have been enjoying all aspects of life here in Hawaii. 

As much as I have already seen and done here, there is still so much left to do before I have to leave and return to Boston. The other co-ops and I have put together a list of places to see on the island, and it seems with everything we check off the list we discover even more things to add. As many fun activities that we planned, some of the best things that have happened have been unplanned. Going on a hike and making a wrong turn led us to an even more beautiful lookout, driving to the beach for a sunset swim after getting off work early, and even helping an injured stranger make it to the end of a hike; all of these things were not on our to-do list but are still some of the most memorable experiences I’ve had.    

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?  Who is your greatest influence in your life?

Based on the experiences here at Fukuji & Lum as well as different physical therapy settings, I have seen the effect that a patient's comfort level and general happiness have on their outcomes. With that in mind, when I graduate from PT school in 2 years, I hope to be the kind of therapist that patients can rely on to always act in their best interests and put a smile on their faces despite the pain they might be in. From what I have learned so far, this trust is built through the small gestures we do: diving into the pool to look for a lost ring in the pouring rain, supporting a patient’s business on the weekends, or simply walking a patient to their car. Since the start of the pandemic, I think the whole world has started seeing healthcare workers in a different light, and I have been truly amazed at the kindness and compassion I have witnessed from both my coworkers and patients.  When I think about what kind of therapist I want to be in the future,  that is undoubtedly influenced by my parents and extended family who raised me to be the person I am now.  My grandparents are lifelong artists and have led such amazing and unique lives, and have truly shaped the way I see the world. They have always gone out of their way to show me the beauty in the world, whether that is through hiking in nature, taking my brother and I to their art exhibitions, or just hanging out and playing hearts. The fun, happy and love-filled life they created for themselves has inspired me to embrace who I am and do the same. 

 

By Abby

Introducing our Spring Semester NEU PT Students!

Introducing Kristin!

Kristin shares how she strives to nurture relationships, expand her knowledge, and be innovative during her studies. She writes about her experience thus far as a co-op and what she looks forward to during her time in Hawaii.

Aloha! My name is Kristin. I am originally from Southern California and  currently attend Northeastern University in Boston. I am a fourth-year physical therapy major  and chose this career path because of the hands-on involvement in a patient’s rehabilitation  journey. I love that we are able to form relationships and guide patients to healthier and more  active lifestyles. To me, physical therapy is so much more than a major. We have the ability to  shape lives and support patients when they are struggling with pain. We are PTs, educators,  cheerleaders, and confidants all rolled up in one— this is my favorite aspect about the  profession. 

Prior to my co-op at Fukuji and Lum, I worked in an acute care setting. From there, I  knew I had to expand my horizon to outpatient physical therapy. After hearing about past co-op experiences, I jumped at the opportunity to work at F&L. I am so glad I did because I currently  have the privilege of learning from physical therapists with different specialties and interests,  each with a unique way to approach and treat patients. As a student who is eager to soak up  everything, it means so much to me that staff are willing to share previous lectures and provide tips to make me a better physical therapist. I think this speaks to the supportive and collaborative community at F&L.

My experience in Hawaii has been nothing short of amazing. Outside of work, the other  co-ops and I are busy exploring the island and using every excuse to get shave ice and poke. We  have a list of recommended restaurants and hikes we are working through, and we are looking  forward to adding to it! We have big plans to go surfing and are building up to it by watching  Surf’s Up and wearing goggles around the house. 

Although I am still new to physical therapy, I have been fortunate enough to work with  some of the most talented, knowledgeable and passionate physical therapists. They have  repeatedly shown me the impact of compassion, kindness, and patience, and I hope to embody  those characteristics as a future clinician. My past mentor always encouraged me to think outside  the box and strive for creative treatment customized for each patient. This encouraged me to  constantly improve and innovate my approach to treatment.  

There are many people that influenced who I am today, but the person closest to my heart  is my sister. My sister is the most selfless and warm-hearted person I know and makes everyone  else around better. I am constantly amazed by her, and I aspire to be half the woman she is!

By Deb Matsuura

Northeastern PT Student Coop Reflection 2020

Claire Reflects on Her Growth as a Coop

We asked Claire a few questions about her time with Fukuji & Lum and to reflect on her experience in the clinic and living in Hawaii.

What was the one experience that you think was the highlight, both inside and outside of the clinic?

A little bit of context: I had the opportunity to work at almost all the clinics throughout my six months at F&L. I started, and worked primarily, at the Kailua clinic, with a weekly trip into town to the Honolulu clinic. Towards the middle of my co-op, I spent most of my time at the Kokokahi YWCA aquatics site. For my final two months, I worked mostly at the Laniakea YWCA pool, with a day or two per week at the Kokokahi pool. My final day of co-op, though, was spent working at the Kailua office. On that last day, I felt confident in my ability to take patients through their exercises and write their notes, which was a huge change from the start of my co-op. It was rewarding and fulfilling to hear the Kailua team tell me how much I had grown and how excited they were for me. The cool thing is that I didn’t realize how much I had grown until they told me, and I thought, “Wow, they’re right!” It was a perfect end to co-op that brought my experience full circle.

Outside of the clinic, I was fortunate to have heaps of adventures that made every outing feel like an event. It still blows my mind that activities like going to the beach and hiking are everyday activities in Hawaii, so everything felt like a highlight to me. However, swimming with sharks definitely stands out in my mind. It was a humbling, calming, and exciting experience that I will always remember. We even saw early morning surfers and Hawaiian spinner dolphins on the boat ride back to shore!

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

So many incredible people shaped me into who I am in so many ways that I don’t think I can pick one person! I love all the clinicians, and each one had an impact on my time. The patients, however, probably taught me the most about myself and the practice of PT. They helped me discover my PT-related interests, how to interact with them in a way that was both professional and fun, how to problem solve, and more. I enjoyed having fun conversations with the patients and enjoyed their company in general! I remember looking at the schedule and being excited about who was coming in each day. They frequently gave me awesome recommendations on things to do and foods to try.

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

I hoped that I would get to learn about and get a good feel for Hawaiian culture, but I had no idea that it would embrace me, too. From the atmosphere on Aloha Fridays, to learning Pidgin and other local phrases, to the widespread Aloha Spirit, I felt like I was part of the community, not just an outsider looking in. Also, I did not expect to acquire an affinity for reggae music. I’ve concluded that you can’t listen to reggae music and not be in a good mood afterward 🙂

If you had to choose one word about your experience, what word would you choose?

Growth.

Towards the end of my co-op, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work more closely with Art, and whenever we saw a particular patient, we each chose a “word of the day.” A few of our words included: gratitude, peace, humanity, faith, celebrate, malama, Aloha mai kākou, etc. Reflecting on those conversations, I realize that everything comes back to growth. I have grown in my understanding of myself and others, embracing my environment, being a professional, countless ways to be a good PT, and so much more. The most important part, though, is that I left knowing that you can always keep growing in every aspect of life.

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

In short, I plan to keep growing! I was surprised to learn that I am interested in neurology and have specific interests within orthopedics. With that in mind, I will be open to whatever opportunities arise in the future, even if it is something that I think I am not interested in. However my career progresses, I will treat patients with the same compassion and kindness that I witnessed throughout F&L.

By Deb Matsuura

Introducing our NEU Fall Semester PT Students!

Welcome Claire to the F&L 'Ohana!

Hello! I’m Claire, a graduate of Fox Chapel High School in Pittsburgh, PA and a current a third-year physical therapy student at Northeastern University in Boston.

From a young age, I was interested in pursuing a career in physical therapy. When I combined all of my interests and passions, physical therapy checked off all of my boxes: helping others, physically and mentally challenging activities, and medicine. Growing up, I had my fair share of bumps and bruises that taught me how valuable independence is in one’s own life. I became increasingly aware of the pains and struggles of the people around me and the toll it took on their physical, mental, and emotional health. Eventually, I grew passionate about the ability to function independently. In hindsight, it seems obvious to me that physical therapy is the right career for me, but I actually entered college as a product design major, which I quickly changed. Once I started taking physical therapy-related classes, I developed an ongoing gut feeling that I had chosen to follow the right path for me; since changing my major, I felt noticeably happier and looked forward to going to my classes.

While searching for co-ops this past spring, I felt that same surge of enthusiasm when I was introduced to Fukuji & Lum. Between reading about the company culture and hearing testimonies from previous F&L co-op students, I was excited to have found a company that embodies the same values that I hold. Someday, I hope to practice physical therapy with integrity, continued personal and professional growth, compassion, and joy.

 

My time at F&L, and Hawaii in general, has been full of opportunities for growth. I remember driving home from buying a car and seeing a sign on the side of the road that read “Drive with Aloha.” I couldn’t help but smile and feel a calming reassurance that good things were waiting ahead in the next six months. In order to fully immerse myself in the Hawaii experience, I have tried to push the boundaries of my comfort zone by trying new foods, like dried seaweed, and testing out therapeutic treatments that I had never done before, such as scar mobilization. I’ve even developed the confidence to (safely) explore the island on my own! I have a long list of activities to do and places to see while I’m here, which includes swimming, snorkeling, surfing, hiking, and swimming with sharks once the beaches, parks, and trails reopen. Most importantly, I want to be open to all of the unexpected opportunities that pop up along my adventure. I am grateful for all of the recommendations I have received form co-workers and patients, and I can’t wait to do as many of them as I can.

I am grateful for my family, who have supported me throughout my life by encouraging me to pursue my passions, persevere during difficult times, and find the positives every step of the journey. Without my parents, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and unofficial family, I can’t begin to imagine where I would be. I look forward to continuing to embrace Aloha Spirit, absorbing the plethora of knowledge around me, and accepting whatever else comes my way.

By Deb Matsuura

Introducing our NEU Fall Semester PT Students!

Welcome Helen to the F&L 'Ohana!

I attended South Burlington High School in South Burlington, Vermont, and I currently attend Northeastern University, in Boston, Massachusetts. I first became interested in physical therapy when I broke my ankle playing tennis in high school. After my cast was removed, I began physical therapy and my therapist treated my ankle and then sent me back to play again. When I returned to the court, I was plagued by knee problems, so I headed back to physical therapy, but this time to a different therapist. This therapist took a holistic approach to my treatment and explained how my knee problems were a result of muscle weakness from my ankle injury. She helped me return to my preinjury state, as well as further strengthen me and as a result, improve my performance on the court. I was fascinated by the fact that my ankle injury recovery involved strengthening so many different parts of my body, as I hadn’t realized just how intertwined everything was. When I graduate, I hope to become an outpatient physical therapist. I’m not yet sure what population of patients I’d like to work with, but I do know that I would like to take a very holistic approach to treating my patients so that I can help them recover as much as possible.

I won’t deny that when I first heard about this coop, I was interested by the fact that it was in Hawaii. However, the more I learned about it, the more I realized just how unique the opportunity was. I realized that moving 5000 miles away from home for a position that would introduce me to so many important parts of my field would help me grow so much both personally and professionally. And doing that all while dealing with a pandemic has only increased my opportunity to grow. Just over two months into this experience, I have learned and done more in the clinic than I ever thought I would in my six months here. It has been challenging to adjust to living and working here and explore the island during a pandemic, but the opportunities I have been given as a physical therapy coop student at Fukuji & Lum make it all worthwhile.

In my free time, I have been trying to explore the island of Oahu as much as possible. Before the current restrictions were put into place, I enjoyed watching the sunrise from Lanikai Beach and hiking the Lanikai Pillbox Hike and the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail. Since the restrictions have been increased, I have spent most of my time reading and enjoying the view of the ocean from our porch. As things (hopefully) start to open back up, I would really like to go snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, see the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens, and go to the Sunrise Shack. I have had some delicious açai bowls and smoothies since I have been here, as well as some really interesting fruit. I tried papaya and dragonfruit for the first time recently, and I am still not really sure how I feel about them.

As I continue to experience this amazing opportunity over the next several months, I feel so grateful for my mom and the influence she has had on me. She has always served as an example to me to work hard and always give your best effort. Despite her initial concerns about me moving thousands of miles away from her for six months, she has been nothing but supportive of my choice to pursue physical therapy as a career and take advantage of this opportunity offered by Fukuji & Lum. She has been so helpful to me throughout this experience and I feel lucky that I can FaceTime her and she’ll be there to hear about my day, give me advice, or even just give our cat Lucy some kisses for me.

Helen

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 PT Student Coop Reflection 2020

My Coop Experience During the Pandemic

Reflecting back on my co-op makes me realize how much I experienced in Hawaii. Most changes day to day are fairly small, and so we don’t always realize how we grow over time. However, there are some moments that stand out in our memories because they represent pivotal changes.

I remember overhearing a conversation about the news of the first COVID cases, but continuing on with my day relatively unfazed. I remember counting the number of patient cancellations prior to our temporary clinic closure at the end of March. And I remember the zoom meeting where our plan to return to work was created. These were the big events that I feel marked each new life I lived in Hawaii.

I received countless apologies from patients and co-workers because my time in Hawaii was affected by COVID. While I wish COVID did not exist, the fact of the matter is that it does. And it does for the whole world. Therefore, I never felt like my co-op experience was any lesser because of it. We are in the healthcare profession and part of the job is adapting to change to best serve the community.

I am grateful for the extra time to explore the island and go surfing while the clinic was closed. I am grateful to have been a member of the bridge team when the clinic reopened. And most of all, I am grateful for all of the personal and professional learning opportunities in between.

 

All of my friends and family were 5,000 miles away back in Boston, but I never felt isolated or alone. All of us co-ops were constantly supported by each other and our co-workers. It even feels slightly odd to call the employees of Fukuji & Lum “co-workers” because it’s such an impersonal term. The way that everyone would reach out with offerings of vegetables, puzzles, zoom yoga classes, and support was on par with that of family. I knew of the aloha spirit, but to truly experience it is something that is difficult to put into words. I just hope that I can transfer that feeling and spread the aloha spirit to my friends and family back in Boston.

Mahalo nui loa. A hui hou.

Joy

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.