On this episode of the Healthy, Wealthy and Smart Podcast, Jenna Kantor guests hosts and interviews Monica LoConti on cultural diversity. Monica LoConti, PT, DPT completed her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC)- Program in Physical Therapy after earning her Bachelor’s degree from New York University. Monica’s passion for Physical Therapy extends beyond the clinic, earning awards for Excellence in Teaching and Service Work from Columbia University.
In this episode, we discuss:
-Monica’s experiences interacting with different cultures in the clinic
-Why you should convey respect and compassion during the subjection portion of an evaluation
-The importance of adjusting your clinical approach with different patient populations
-And so much more!
For more information on Monica:
Monica LoConti, PT, DPT completed her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC)- Program in Physical Therapy after earning her Bachelor’s degree from New York University. Monica’s passion for Physical Therapy extends beyond the clinic, earning awards for Excellence in Teaching and Service Work from Columbia University. She has continued to teach Physical Therapy and Service Learning at CUMC.
Monica is a former Contributing Editor for Fitness Magazine, a Certified Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor as well as a Reiki Master. Monica specializes in Pelvic Floor treatment for Men, Women and Children. Techniques included in therapy sessions include strain-counterstrain, functional mobilizations, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, core-first strategies, visceral mobilization, as well as breathing techniques to optimize function.
Monica is an active member of the fundraising committee of the International Pelvic Pain Society (IPPS), the Women’s Health and Pediatric sections of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), and the International Children’s Continence Society (ICCS).
For more information on Jenna:
Jenna Kantor (co-founder) is a bubbly and energetic girl who was born and raised in Petaluma, California. Growing up, she trained and performed ballet throughout the United States. After earning a BA in Dance and Drama at the University of California, Irvine, she worked professionally in musical theatre for 15+ years with tours, regional theatres, & overseas (www.jennakantor.com) until she found herself ready to move onto a new chapter in her life – a career in Physical Therapy. Jenna is currently in her 3rd year at Columbia University’s Physical Therapy Program. She is also a co-founder of the podcast, “Physiotherapy Performance Perspectives,” has an evidence-based monthly youtube series titled “Injury Prevention for Dancers,” is a NY SSIG Co-Founder, NYPTA Student Conclave 2017 Development Team, works with the NYPTA Greater New York Legislative Task Force and is the NYPTA Public Policy Committee Student Liaison. Jenna aspires to be a physical therapist for amateur and professional performers to help ensure long, healthy careers. To learn more, please check out her website: www.jennafkantor.wixsite.com/jkpt
Read the full transcript below:
Jenna Kantor: 00:00 Hello, this is Jenna Kantor hosting here for Healthy, Wealthy and Smart. I’m here with Monica LoConti. We went to the same school together, Columbia University and she was my mentor. So first of all, Monica, thank you so much for coming on. This is something that you have definitely spoken to me about. Within your journey going from a student to being a professional in the physical therapy world, would you mind talking about why cultural diversity needs to get some more attention and there needs to be some more change with that.
Monica LoConti: Sure. So, what you and I had discussed was how in a job that I was in, not far after I graduated from PT school, I was in a situation where I had a patient who had what seemed like irretractable pain or unretractable pain, I don’t know what the exact word is, how you described that, but I had another far more experienced therapist who is trying to guide me through that.
Monica LoConti: 01:06 And she took me aside and said to me, well, you know, you know, Hispanic people, they have a whole thing. They have a way that they deal with pain. You know how that is. And I looked at her and I was like, yeah, I don’t really know what you mean by that. I’m Puerto Rican and I was never taught a specific way to behave around pain. Of course I didn’t actually say those words because I was too afraid of speaking against anybody who had more experience than me or knows more than me. But it was a very interesting experience to have because if there is something that we should learn, you know, the way that different cultures behave or the way that they may not speak up about their pain, it’s something that’s going to help us to treat them better and to maybe find more appropriate terminology to deal with them.
Monica LoConti: 01:57 And at the same time, it’s also important to be aware of how other people see, you know, each of our own cultures. Because I was very surprised by what that therapist had said to me about my own culture.
Jenna Kantor: What would you think would be a good solution for people to follow in order to be more aware and respectful of different cultures?
Monica LoConti: I think more than anything, asking, asking each particular person and each particular patient how they identify with their experience or their pain or what they’re going through, the reason why they’re there for that session or that treatment. Because just because I’m Hispanic doesn’t mean that I’m going to behave a certain way or think a certain way and I may not have been raised, you know, in a mountain in Puerto Rico like my dad was. I specifically, I’m going to feel the way I feel, not just because of who I am or how I was raised.
Monica LoConti: 02:58 I think it’s important to speak to each individual about their needs, their feelings and their opinions so that we can be more individualized with how we treat them and how we handle their case.
Jenna Kantor: Yeah. Have you had any instances where it was kind of reversed, where you were getting that opportunity to be more respectful of their culture with a patient? I can see you like putting on your thinking cap right now, going like was there, was there a moment in time, and this may just be something that you regularly employ without even realizing it. It doesn’t necessarily be in need to be somebody who’s Puerto Rican, but it could even be maybe a mother.
Monica LoConti: 03:42 So I remember, and this also was earlier on in my career, I think now I’ve kind of figured out my groove and I know how to ask people things. So I remember seeing an orthodox Jewish couple in the waiting room and I realized that that was my eval and I didn’t know, I knew that maybe I’m not supposed to talk to the husband. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to talk to the husband, do I only talk to the wife? How does this work? And fortunately one of the people who worked in the office, I was able to kind of ask her what’s the appropriate way to handle this situation? And she said, yeah, you know, just talk to the wife unless he decides to speak to you. And then once I got her into a private room, that woman was more than happy to answer any of my questions.
Monica LoConti: 04:33 And I think it’s always about asking anything that is pertinent. Don’t just ask random questions. But if it’s pertinent to their care or how you can make their life better, that people are really receptive to you asking those questions if you’re respectful about it and they can tell that you’re just being thoughtful and trying to make them comfortable with you, giving them care.
Jenna Kantor: And then have you ever witnessed the opposite? Anything where like I said, it doesn’t necessarily need to be somebody from Israel. I mean any, any, any type of niche can be considered some sort of culture of some kind. It could be even a kid. It could be, like I said before, a mother, it could be a dancer, it could be a football player, it could be a grandmother. Have you ever witnessed or been seen any circumstance where they were not treated with that cultural respect and what ended up happening in that case with that patient or even to that physical therapist and it doesn’t need to be so blatant where they’re, you know, getting angry or anything there.
Jenna Kantor: 05:42 There’s very slight things. We’re not really in a culture where people tend to explode with anger and fury. So, so obviously.
Monica LoConti: So I work in an outpatient hospital based practice and I would say that most of the patients that we see are probably between the ages of 25 and 80 or 90 right. So seeing a pediatric population isn’t as frequent for most of us. And I think a lot of times, or a couple of times I’ve seen some of the younger patients, every once in a while we’ll get an eight year old, a 10 year old, and they end up treating them like the adults and the kids don’t respond as well. The ones that I’ve seen anyway. They respond more to that pediatric approach that everyone is taught in PT school. And I mean, it is kind of true. You have to make it fun for them.
Monica LoConti: 06:40 You have to make them want to be there, otherwise they’re not going to be compliant with their HEP. Yeah. So I have come in at least on one occasion and kind of switched up what we were doing so that it was a little bit more appropriate for the age of the child.
Jenna Kantor: I love that. I love that. That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much. Thank you for coming on and sharing this. Just so people can start reflecting on themselves. I’m doing it even as you speak on how I can even step up my game with communication for every single individual. So thank you so much, Monica, for coming on to this podcast.
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