Gabriella is a fourth year Human Biology and Global Health double major. She is originally from Los Angeles and comes from a family of immigrants including her mother, who is from the Philippines and her father, who is from Mexico. Gabriella is a first generation American and college student with aspirations of working in health and how to best contribute to her community!
Gabriella's Field Experience was spent with The SDSU Adaptive Fitness Clinic, which is a community outreach program through the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at SDSU. This program serves individuals from the San Diego region with minor to severe physical and neuromuscular disabilities as well as those interested in Active Aging and offers them the opportunity to reach their fitness and exercise goals.
As a volunteer at the SDSU Adaptive Fitness Clinic (AFC), Gabriella regularly interacted with students majoring in pre-physical therapy to help bring patients closer to their fitness and wellness goals. Patient conditions ranged from osteoporosis to trauma from vehicle accidents to neurodegenerative diseases. Gabriella often helped assist patients through their exercises and took note of their progress. During her last semester with SDSU AFC, Gabriella was personally assigned a patient, in which she was allowed to develop their program personally. In this case, Gabriella spoke with the patient's father to inquire about previous routines they have done as a basis for what she may or may not like. She would then keep detailed reports of her exercises and report on her progress through filling out weekly worksheets. Gabriella would volunteer twice a week for 1.5 hours a session in addition to being taught various stretches, exercises, and how to use clinic equipment to help patients.
"I gained a deep appreciation for the experience of patients and their conditions beyond a cellular level. Being reminded that, though medicine is wonderful and advancements in such fields are necessary to improving outcomes, we are treating real people with motivations and lives of their own. I also came to grow an interest in promoting interprofessional connections, as I feel like there is so little opportunity professionals of differing disciplines to interact and understand their specialties"
Prior to this Field Experience, Gabriella recalls never interacting with physical therapists, pre-physical therapy students, or patients undergoing physical therapy. It was a completely novel opportunity that opened her eyes to the various elements of health and wellness. Since volunteers were assigned to work with the same student and patient over the course of the entire semester, they became fond of their patients and began to learn more about them outside of therapy sessions. "Some patients truly left an impact on me," Gabriella states. "John was the first patient I ever worked with and he was so patient with me as I learned my way around the clinic." Despite his happy attitude, Gabriella came to see how his osteoporosis really affected him. He would talk about how hard he was going to try that day and how much he wanted to just dance with his wife. "Another patient named Adriana was incredibly sweet to me," Gabriella recalls. She has MS and was slowly losing motor function, but her son's wedding was in a few months and she was dedicated to walk him down the aisle.