By Mark Yanai

The Awesome Experience of Finding Yourself

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One of the rewards of working with physical therapy students is being able to witness their amazing growth during their time with us. At the end of their internship, students normally see the success they accomplished with their work and have the realization of a learned skill. But with the Northeastern Co-Op students, it’s often a lot more than what happens in the clinical setting. They end up discovering their identity of who they really are and want to be in life.

While the experience of being in Hawaii for six months seems like an extended vacation, it is often much more than that. There’s a saying “You never leave a place you love, you take a part of it with you, leaving a part of you behind.” I find this is true for many of the Co-Ops, but much more so with Kara, one of our 5 Co-ops this past semester. When I first posted a blog introducing her back in Febuary, she wrote about her hopes to finding out what kind of therapist she could be. Six months went by fast and I could describe her tremendous growth in my words, but it’s more clear when you hear it from her.

My Co-Op Experience: Kara

So I guess now that I’m done with my first semester back I have no more excuses to not write this blog. It’s a big undertaking, however, because I am not particularly adept at putting my feelings and experiences into coherent thoughts. My usual encounter with anyone asking me how my 6-month co-op was in Hawaii might be something like this:

“So how was Hawaii?” Internal dialogue: ‘Ohmygosh it was so great I had so much fun I learned so much Fukuji and Lum is awesome they actually care so much about the co-ops and that we are having a good/educational time and the islands were great/magical/more than I ever imagined and I made friends and swam in the ocean with cute sea creatures and almost fell off a few mountains and ohmygosh I got so fit biking to work every day but it was scary in the rain and everyone was always so concerned and supportive of everything that we did and looked out for us like family wait what was I saying? What I actually say: “uhhhh…. Awesome?!?!”

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I’m pretty sure no one wants to hear me babble on like that, but that’s pretty much still all I can do.  I cannot describe what a great experience working for Fukuji & Lum was, or how much all of my amazing coworkers mean to me. It wasn’t just 6 months of sun and fun in a tropical paradise, although there was plenty of that, I was welcomed into the F&L family as a long-lost relative. The Hawaiian concept of Ohana is now engrained in me, not by being told the definition over and over, but by being shown over and over in the kindness and love of everyone I encountered.

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The experience I gained in the different clinics will shape the type of therapist I become. Up till now, being a physical therapist was a VERY distant dream. Being back from Fukuji and Lum and taking classes this summer, this is the first time I have actually felt this dream was attainable. Working as a therapist was something I wanted to do, but honestly up till now it was something I never actually felt I was capable of doing. I continued semester after semester with the growing feeling that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t smart enough. The people at Fukuji and Lum have been great mentors, and the confidence they have shown in me has in turn made me more confident. Since returning from Hawaii I find I have been able to accept the fact that no, I don’t know everything, but that’s ok, that’s what the rest of my education is for.

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I am grateful for everything I came away from Hawaii having learnt and seen. In those magical 6 months I made lifelong friends, ate strange and delicious foods (does anyone want to send me some haupia?? no??), collected a hodgepodge of the culture and language, explored, learned much about myself, and fell in love…. with the Islands! So from the bottom of my heart, Mahalo Nui Loa!

By Mark Yanai

More Than Teamwork

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Earlier this year, F&L was fortunate to have five Co-Op students join us from Northeastern University as an education requirement of their physical therapy graduate program. Our relationship with the university is now going on nine years as we’ve hosted more than 20 students for their six-month stay at our clinics. Most of the students are placed at our Windward clinics, but since we had five of them this semester, one lucky Co-op was set to join our newest clinic in Honolulu, the Kuakini Physicians Tower in the Kuakini Medical Center.

When conducting interviews for the Co-Op Program, I look for candidates who will fit in well with our value-based organization. I knew that the student selected for our Honolulu clinic would have to be someone who could handle new and different challenges than previous co-ops. It didn’t take long for me to select Amelia, a fourth year student, to be the one to join our Honolulu team and be a part of the opening of our newest clinic. I was impressed by her maturity and work ethic and knew she would fit right in. It’s not surprising that the name Amelia is derived from the Latin words for “industrious” and “striving” as she fits the bill of what we look for in each of our employees.

Amelia is now back to her studies in Boston, but took the time to be a guest blogger for us and reflect on her experience working at the Honolulu clinic.

Guest Blogger: Amelia and the Meaning of “Team-work”

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When I initially heard a week before coming to Hawaii that I would be the Co-Op joining the Honolulu clinic, I’ll admit I had a few reservations.  My worries about being the only Co-Op at the clinic and the commute without a car were soon washed away and I couldn’t be more grateful to have been a part of the Kuakini family. As cheesy as it sounds, I never fathomed how inspiring and life-changing my experience at the Honolulu clinic would be. On my first day at Fukuji & Lum, a little silver Pontiac Vibe pulled into my driveway just after noon and drove me to see Lanikai beach. This would be the first of many car rides over the Pali Highway full of conversations with Art Lum, from which I have learned a great deal and truly cherish. During that first car ride Art explained to me the values based-culture of F&L, to which I could do little more than nod my head politely in reply.

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[one_half_last]However, after reflecting on my experience it is something I more deeply understand and hope to take with me as a clinician for the rest of my life. I’ve heard many peers and friends talk about the great “team” attitude they share with their coworkers and I’ve experienced it myself at other jobs, but there is something really unique about the F & L culture that makes it so special. I’m not quite sure I can put that into words, but I do know that each person I had the pleasure of working with in Honolulu for has influenced who I will become as a clinician and as a person. [/one_half_last]

[one_half]Art, Shaw, Brittany, Mike, Michelle, Lynn, Julie, and Terrence all went out of their way to make me feel at home; from feeding me endless Hawaiian snacks to teaching me new exercises to giving me weekend tips. They were continuously patient, kind, and supportive of me, of one another, and most importantly of our patients. Each of them brought something special to the table and our bond extended beyond the doors of the clinic to weekend hikes, Filipino restaurants, and Karaoke sessions. They showed me just what the F&L culture is all about and I hope to carry that with me wherever I go. [/one_half]

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Mauka a Makai

After cruising past Lanikai beach on that first day in Honolulu, Art and I headed over the mountains. He explained to me the first Hawaiian words I learned on the island, mauka and makai, to describe the mountains and the ocean. These words stuck with me and have come to mean a lot to me. Art marveled at how lovely the mountains looked that afternoon, and I can remember admiring that after many years in Hawaii he still found a new appreciation for the beauty of his surroundings every day. The beauty of the island was everywhere in Hawaii, filling my heart with joy day after day.

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In the 6 months I spent in having some of the most beautiful experiences of my life I came to an understanding that I have taken with me back to Boston. We often think tropical islands are the most beautiful places in the world, yearning for them in daydreams and ending up unsatisfied or unhappy by our own current surroundings. But the simple realization that it is much more about attitude than it is about surroundings has made me more gracious and appreciative, and ultimately more happy. Hawaii has taught me to find beauty and happiness wherever I stand, mauka a makai. Joy can be found under streetlights and in sunsets if I open my eyes to it.

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By Mark Yanai

2016 Volunteer Recognition Dinner

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The Start of the Next Generation

A profession is defined as “a type of job that requires special education, expertise or skill.” When working in the physical therapy profession, it is more than just a job. It is as most therapists say, “their true calling”, with a strong desire to spend the rest of their lives committed to this profession. At F&L, we are so passionate and engrossed in physical therapy, that we feel the need to share our enthusiasm with PT hopefuls to strengthen and promote physical, occupational and massage therapy.

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Each year, we accept 20-30 volunteers ranging from high school to college graduate students. The program is overseen by Brad Kaya, P.T., M.S., O.C.S., who coordinates the supervision and scheduling of the applicants. Accepted students of the program will receive first hand experience at one of our four outpatient orthopedic clinics. They are trained as regular staff members and become ambassadors of the organization. Students are encouraged to foster relationships with experienced therapists so that they gain valuable knowledge in preparation for applying into a graduate PT program.

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F&L recognizes the efforts and contributions of our volunteers by hosting a special Volunteer Appreciation Dinner every summer at one of our clinics. This year’s dinner was held at our Kokokahi facility and attended by 17 students. The event included staff speakers who shared their personal journeys about how they got into the PT profession and gave helpful advice to the students interested in applying for PT school. I never tire of listening to my co-workers and their experiences about getting into physical therapy school. We often have a great turnout and I always leave the dinner with admiration for our staff members as they themselves volunteer their time to come and talk to students interested in applying for PT school.

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As therapists, we all recall volunteering somewhere to find our calling and remember the day that we realized it was to work in the physical therapy field. It feels rewarding to give back to this profession, knowing we were able to give these volunteers the opportunity to discover their true calling. We look forward to seeing this next generation of therapists in the future, possibly working with us soon.

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If you have any questions regarding the Volunteer Program, feel free to email me at markyanai@fukujilumpt.com.