Sara Hulseberg is the talented and dedicated owner of her own Physical Therapy Practice called Excel Therapy and Conditioning located in Wilbraham, Massachusetts. With a passion for nurturing and taking care of the body mentally and physically, she graciously earned her doctorate degree in Physical Therapy, and is now also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist as well as a Certified Sports Yoga Instructor. She had to adapt to the idea of becoming a business owner, because her determination came from the emotion of wanting to provide the best possible care for her patients. If she couldn’t figure out how to do everything she envisioned with pre-existing systematics and then some, she knew she could, and would make a system just as fantastic as currently standing ones. So, she did; and I had the pleasure of getting to know her and what she owes all of her pride, success and experience to.
Keep scrolling to find out how Sara is shaping people’s lives one body and mind at a time.
How did you initially get started?
“I started out in an accelerated pre-med program at Union College, and after a lot of shadowing, research, and soul searching- I decided to transition into the masters of physical therapy program at Springfield College. I knew that I wanted to focus in sports medicine and it was not, at that time, a very widespread residency option in the medical field, but I discovered that by getting my doctorate in physical therapy and my specialist certification in strength and conditioning, I would effectively be able to do everything that I wanted to do for my patients. So upon finishing my masters at Springfield College I went on to begin working and finish my doctorate at Northeastern University. At this point I had been exposed to several different types of treatment facilities whether they were in patient hospitals or outpatient practices corporate versus privately owned, and I found a real focus in patient care to be lacking. So it was at that time that I decided that if I was going to really love what I do, and do it in such a way that I could genuinely be proud of, I would have to set about doing it myself. So it really wasn’t so much a matter of knowing I could succeed, as it was knowing that something needed to change in order to provide the best care for my patients. If I couldn’t figure out a way to do that within an established system, then I’d create a new one.”
What motivated you to be able to run your own Physical Therapy Practice?
“I had the benefit of having a fantastic role model. My father entered medical school after my brothers and I were born, so I got to see him firsthand go through residency, fellowships, and starting out at a new practice. Through all of that hardship and hard work, not to mention demanding hours splitting time being a new doctor and a new dad, he always made sure that he treated his patients in the same way that he would want to be treated. He respected them, he treated them with love and kindness, and he truly listened to them and what their concerns and needs were. My parents ingrained in me that you treat others the way you want to be treated. So when I witnessed that growing up all my life and then saw the juxtaposition of what was happening through a lot of the rest of the medical world, it felt very disingenuous when people would say they were doing all they could for their patients, and in the same breath refer to that same patient by their diagnosis instead of their name. This was my motivation for starting out my practice, and what fueled my desire to do and be more for my patients.”
What does your “Big Picture” for Excel Therapy and Conditioning look like?
“I would love to help guide the transition of the field of physical therapy from such a predominantly medical profession to one filled with well-rounded professionals that are able to really be there for their patients. To guide them when needed, to get on the floor or field and work WITH them when needed, to know the hard questions to ask to garner the even harder answers to give so that people’s physical growth doesn’t become stunted by their emotional state. My big picture is to leave a legacy of light and love and care for the people that came to me.”
What made you want to become a business owner?
“I didn’t necessarily WANT to become a business owner, it was a necessity bred from the desire to provide the best possible care for my patients.”
Why are you so passionate about what you do?
“I’m passionate about helping people because I’ve been helped. I know how much stronger you can become when you have people to depend and lean on, and I love having the honor of being able to be one of those supports for the people in my care. I love making my patients laugh while they work through their hardships, being able to provide relief and joy to people that are experiencing pain and difficulty is one of the best feelings in the world.”
What would you consider to be your biggest challenge?
“Succeeding as a small local practice in a world of large corporations is always difficult, especially with the insurance world the way it currently is. We have a wonderful word-of-mouth referral network thanks to our current and past patients, so we don’t have to worry about patient volume so much. But it is certainly frustrating to be denied by an insurance company for work that you’ve done because of some arbitrary company coding unique to strictly that policy type. We just keep pushing and striving to provide the best possible care for our patients and are satisfied in the knowledge that the quality of good patient care is evident in their improvements.”
And what do you see as your biggest success?
“Every improving and happy patient and client is a success. Starting a practice from nothing and continuing to grow and educate and help people is a success. Providing care for people that haven’t been able to find that care elsewhere is a success. Honestly, every time someone refers a person that they love to me, I consider that my biggest success. They trust me to take care of the people they love, what greater honor could there be?”
What is one piece of advice you would give future individuals for starting their own businesses, companies or establishments?
“I’m not a businesswoman, so I don’t have much in the way of business advice. What I can say though is that having your own business is tireless and endless and stressful. You have to be resilient and work harder than you knew you could. But, if you have a fire for what you’re doing, if you’re passionate about your vision, it is rewarding beyond imagination. Passion breeds passion, if you’re passionate about what you do then others will be too- it’s contagious. This is where the idea of ‘find what you love and love what you do’ came from. Even if something fails financially, if you set out to do something that sets your soul afire, how can that be anything other than a success?”
"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will." - Vince Lombardi
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