Graduate Highlight - Dr. Shin Fukuda
“I want to be an athletic trainer for a professional baseball team.” This was the goal Dr. Shin Fukuda, AP, set for himself at age eighteen. Although the path to this career seemed challenging and the destination far away, Dr. Fukuda was relentless in the pursuit of his dream. He attended East West College of Natural Medicine and became a Licensed Acupuncture Physician. Today, he is a full-time athletic trainer for the Tampa Bay Rays.
As a child, Dr. Fukuda dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player. He practiced for over ten years in Japan until the time came for an elimination tournament to decide who would join an eighteen-man roster. Although Dr. Fukuda was not selected to play professionally, his love for the sport did not diminish. “I just needed to be around the game,” he says. “I was willing to have a career with a professional baseball team even if I could not play.” Since all twelve teams within the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization employed acupuncture therapists, it was an easy decision for Dr. Fukuda to begin studying acupuncture.
Dr. Fukuda attended Trident Acupuncture and Sports Medicine School in Japan for three years, graduating in 2007. While at Trident, he also studied to become an athletic trainer. Kazuhiro Hayakawa, the first Japanese Athletic Trainer Certified (ATC) for the Major League
Baseball organization, became his mentor and provided him with an opportunity to participate in the internship program with the Washington Nationals for Spring Training in 2006. This positive internship experience made Dr. Fukuda eager to return to the United States. He did so by attending Troy University in Alabama after passing his board examinations in Japan.
When he arrived at Troy University in 2007, Dr. Fukuda spoke no English. Although he studied at the English Second Language school for eight months prior to starting college, he did not socialize much or continue practicing English once freshman year began. Due to this language barrier, he was denied entrance into the athletic training program during his sophomore year and had to repeat his freshman year. “This time, I had American friends, increased my American movie watching, and made an additional effort to speak and observe the athletic training room,” he recalls. “It was interview time again, and my perseverance and patience paid off. Finally, I made it to the Athletic Training (AT) Program in 2010.”
During his junior year, Dr. Fukuda worked for the Troy Trojan baseball program as a student athletic trainer. With assistance from ATC Sean Boland as well as his other professors, classmates, and friends, Dr. Fukuda was able to succeed. Now, Dr. Fukuda is living out his dream as a full-time athletic trainer for the Tampa Bay Rays. He also attended East West College of Natural Medicine to become a Licensed Acupuncture Physician. Since March of 2019, he has been able to perform acupuncture treatments on a daily basis. “I am so thankful for where I am, and I love what I do every day,” says Dr. Fukuda.
We hope Dr. Fukuda's story inspired you. If you are ready to finally live out your dream of becoming a Licensed Acupuncture Physician or studying Oriental medicine, contact us today to see how we could help. Call 800-883-5528 or complete our Request Information form to learn more.