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Blue Ocean Life Nation Interview Series: Morgan Hopkins

by Michael Coughlin |

Morgan Hopkins is a Physical Therapist and Health and Wellness Writer.  She is currently leading a “nomad lifestyle” with her husband and 11 month old daughter in month-to-month rentals throughout the Northwest.

Morgan Hopkins BOL interview

Thank you for sharing your story with us. What is your professional background? 

By trade I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy.  I obtained my B.S. in Exercise Physiology from Marquette University in 2011 then went on to receive my Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2013.  I have practiced in outpatient orthopedics for the past 8 years treating a variety of surgical and non-surgical patients.  Prior to PT, I was a Group Fitness Instructor and currently, I am raising my 11 month old daughter and performing freelance work while we travel.

How did you end up with this career?

I studied ballet throughout my childhood and like many young athletes ended up with overuse injuries.  My first experiences in PT were as a patient but I was inspired by the profession which helped people feel better while promoting fitness and wellness.  

How did you begin your remote work journey? 

My husband served in the military for 10 years and was medically retired due to a back injury.  At the same time, we were pregnant with our first child and looking forward to starting our next phase of life together.  As the cards fell, we ended up landing remote job opportunities and decided to take advantage of the housing market and trade in our mortgage for short term rentals.  We have been living this nomad lifestyle for the past 6 months now and are absolutely enthralled by the beauty that this country has to offer.

Where do you see yourself in the next year? What tips do you have for others who are working remotely?

Our temporary plan is to continue traveling for the next 9 months and then settle in NYC where my husband’s job is based.  I see myself growing my freelance writing career as well as expanding my Telehealth practice.  Once in NYC, I have always dreamed of working with dancers which I hope to actualize.  My advice for those working remotely is to take advantage of travel.  There are so many beautiful places to explore without breaking a budget.  Create normalcy in new places.  If traveling isn’t your forte, I think it’s incredibly important to set boundaries for yourself.  When work space and living space are combined these lines can blur.  Close your computer at 5pm, light a candle to signify completion or create separate spaces to distinguish work and life.  

Putting yourself first is important to your overall wellness. Given this, what are your best holistic wellness tips? 

Stress is unfortunately part of most people’s day to day lives.  Personally, I will combat the stresses of the day with movement, healthy eating and legs up the wall.  No matter where I am at, I make it a priority to move at least 20 minutes a day- whether that be Yoga, running, or weights.  I’m also a heat junkie and will book myself a sauna session or lay on a heating pad with my legs up the wall.  Finally, I feel best when I eat well.  We all go through ebbs and flows of healthy eating but when I’m feeling in a funk, I make healthy eating a priority.  The impact is incredible.

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What was the toughest challenge you faced during your career?

I would say starting out my career was the toughest challenge because I felt so uncertain.  Textbooks can only teach you so much and there is nothing that can replace real life experience.  

How did you get through that period? What advice for people dealing with similar difficulties?

I leaned on my mentors, studied and practiced.  You cannot be afraid to ask others for help if you’re unsure of something or feel stuck.  To this day, I lean on coworkers when I have a challenging patient and they do the same.  With repetition and exposure, I have gained both knowledge and confidence.  

Mental health and feeling good are crucial to maximizing performance. How do you prioritize your mental health?

During the height of the pandemic, I was pregnant and working long hours in the clinic while dealing with pay-cuts and unknowns.  Without question, exercise was my go-to stress reliever that helped me feel good both physically and mentally.  Getting outside and taking a short walk at lunch always helps me reset and allows me to exude compassion and care to each patient I encounter.  As my roles have recently shifted to mom and freelancer, I still prioritize my exercise as “me time”.  I have learned to ask others for help or time when I feel my cup is empty.

Before the pandemic hit, you may have worked in an office or corporate setting, but what do you foresee happening now? How do you see companies allowing employees to work post-pandemic?

In Physical Therapy, I firmly believe the most powerful treatment involves manual therapy.  The power of touch is incredible and diagnosing and treating with your hands is an important part of our profession.  That said, we are already seeing a shift towards Telehealth treatment options which can be extremely beneficial for those who have less complex conditions or who may be seeking a home exercise program for personal, financial or time management reasons.  With this shift, more PT opportunities are opening up from a remote setting.  I think like many industries some sort of Hybrid model will dominate which allows the in-person treatment options to continue while providing some relief and flexibility for healthcare workers who have experienced such significant burnout over the past two years.

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If you could have lunch with one person in the world, who would it be and why?

As previously mentioned, I grew up studying ballet and have an absolute love and admiration for the artform.  If I could, I would choose to have lunch with the late great George Balanchine who founded New York City Ballet and was one of the greatest choreographers of all time.  His style is unbelievably challenging but rewarding and I would love to pick his brain on his choreography process and what inspires him.

If you could inspire a movement, what would it be and why?

Without question, holistic medical care.  We cannot treat a part without treating the whole body and that is something that is often neglected in healthcare.  I feel for my patients who are carted from one doctor to the next trying to find a diagnosis and do everything in my scope of practice to be an advocate for those struggling to find their way in our current system.  I also see the power in exercise and wellness and hope to continue being a leader in the shift towards preventative care.  

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