I cannot believe I have been able to gain so much experience as a physical therapist and I could not ask for better people to experience this with. With only 8 girls, we were able to get to know each other and become close friends. For the first 3 days we assisted the PT team at Santiago Crespo Calvo Nursing Home and learned how to use the equipment and got a crash course in Spanish. Without a solid basis of Spanish, communicating with the patients was a challenge, but the interpreters were right there beside us helping us along the way. The patients at the nursing home and Costa Rican people in general are the most welcoming and encouraging people, so I never felt lost or confused. On our last day, Michael, our team leader, invited his band to play true Costa Rican music for the patients and the PT room was transformed into a dance floor. Whether in a wheelchair or not, the patients danced and even invited my team to join in. It was a great way to end our time there.
On our first recreation day we went zip lining and relaxed at Manuel Antonio beach. Zip lining in the mountains of Costa Rica was the most thrilling experience I have ever had. We traveled far up the mountain and then zip lined all the way back down while looking at the most beautiful and lush area of Costa Rica. The beach was just as beautiful and we stayed in the water for hours enjoying the cool waters and relaxing.
The next day we were able to set up our first clinic in the community of Guarari. Friday morning we took a census of the community and handed out appointments to people nearby. That afternoon and the next day, we met with patients and we got to experience the life of a PT. I was able to evaluate patients with the help of my team and the amazing doctors, Christopher and Jennifer. I was able to use ultrasound, electrotherapy, massage and recommended exercises for patients during the appointments. I am so grateful for everything I have learned and everything the gracious people like Michael, our team leader, has done for me and the rest of my team. It is an honor to help treat the people of Costa Rica, and I cannot wait to see the experiences that are yet to come. ISL has helped me realize that I have a true passion and love for serving others through Physical Therapy.
June 29, 2013