Seymour native earns award from physical therapy company


Rachel Tatham was in middle school when her brother tore his anterior cruciate ligament and had to receive physical therapy.

She later shadowed a person in that field to ensure that’s what she wanted to do as a career after high school.

Those experiences made quite an impression.

“I think that kind of set it in motion of just being experienced and exposed to that,” she said. “Certainly seeing the athletic trainer at the high school when I was there and being able to work with them, I was like, ‘Man, this stuff is cool.’ It’s just something that has always been an interest of mine. I love helping people, and this is really a field that you can give back in that realm.”

For all of the work and dedication she has given to the country’s largest single-branded outpatient physical therapy provider, the 33-year-old Seymour native and Columbus resident recently earned a prestigious award from ATI Physical Therapy.

Tatham, a multisite clinic director for two offices in Columbus and one in Seymour, is among six clinic directors receiving the Leader of the Year award.

That aims to recognize leaders within the Bolingbrook, Illinois-based company for excellence in patient care and business results in their local communities. The team members have proven they are dedicated to driving successful patient outcomes, exhibiting company values and leading others to succeed.

During the annual National Leadership Event, held virtually to protect the health and safety of team members, more than 700 company leaders gathered to celebrate 2021 achievements across the company.

The event featured remarks by Executive Chairman Jack Larsen, Chief Operating Officer Ray Wahl and other senior leaders.

“You are the most important aspect of our business, and from what I know, you deliver the best PT care out there,” Larsen told the team. “Supporting you with the right solutions and the right execution was the only way we could have become the best PT company.”

Wahl offered further praise.

“I find it energizing to be with and around people who feel as I do about this industry, about this work and to know that the business of caring for patients at ATI is in great hands because of you,” he said.

Tatham was the Central Region winner. The other Leader of the Year winners are from Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas.

Three people from each region were nominated, and Tatham was nominated by her district director.

“I’m extremely humbled and grateful to be able to receive this award because there are a lot of people that are very qualified for this, and it was certainly a large number of people that could have been called for it,” she said.

To put the award in perspective, ATI has more than 900 locations in 25 states, and only six employees received this award and a district director also was honored.

“That’s the very humbling part. There’s just so much talent out there, and to be able to be chosen for that is incredible,” Tatham said. “With that, I certainly give a lot of the credit to my team. I have incredible team members around me, and I would not have been eligible for that without my team, so I’m very grateful for them.”

Born and raised in Seymour, Tatham graduated from Seymour High School in 2007. She said she grew up playing sports and was involved with basketball, volleyball and softball at SHS.

“I really enjoyed that atmosphere of sports and athletics, and what drew me to physical therapy was that I was able to help people resume with their sports,” she said. “Certainly with physical therapy, we branch out further than just the sports realm, but being able to get people back to their previous function or previous activities that they enjoy doing, that has been a big connection for me personally.”

She would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in exercise science in 2010 and a doctorate in physical therapy in 2013 from the University of Indianapolis.

She then landed a job with ATI after learning about the company at a job fair.

“I was really drawn to them just with the opportunity for growth because they were a larger corporation with multiple locations, and just the long-term vision of ATI really set well with me,” she said. “Obviously, it has worked out well.”

Tatham spent the first year as a staff physical therapist in Columbus. Then she moved up to clinic director.

“The primary role as a staff physical therapist is that you’re treating the patients,” she said. “When you move more into a clinic director role, you’re still in patient care, but you’re also helping manage the business aspect of it.”

She said advancing in the company was her goal from the start.

“I’ve always been very driven, and I love the leadership aspect,” she said. “I love being able to coach up my teams and help support them, so that has always been a long-term goal of mine. It’s certainly a transition from a staff clinician to a clinic director, but for me, it seemed kind of like a natural progression for me to be able to lead our teams in that way.”

Three years ago, she took the next step and became a multisite clinic director.

“I certainly made my leaders aware, ‘Hey, I’m interested in more growth and more opportunity,’ and we had someone leave the Seymour clinic, and they presented that offer to me, so I was very excited to be able to get back to my hometown and my roots and be able to develop that clinic, as well,” Tatham said.

She oversees the physical therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapist assistants and support staff.

“I really enjoy being able to work with each individual and to be able to create that team atmosphere within each clinic,” she said. “I really enjoy developing them, helping them meet their goals but also just being that go-to person to help them solve their solutions or help them continue on their career path, as well. I really just enjoy the people connection with that.”

One of the reasons Tatham was named Leader of the Year is because she managed a three-part development series for district clinic directors that allowed them to enhance the skills of new clinicians.

“That was helping with clinical skills, just some soft and personal skills with patient interactions and just being able to deliver the high level of care that ATI offers,” she said. “Really, it’s a clinician development team to enhance our new hires and help get them up to speed.”

She also volunteered to provide coverage for two other clinics outside her market when another clinic director was on leave.

Plus, Tatham has been a peer mentor five times in the past year and was selected to work with ATI Academy, the company’s internal training arm, as a subject matter expert for developing clinical leadership training programs.

“I do a little bit of mentoring with them, as well, to just help them as they are transitioning into the role or as they transition from a single-site clinic director to a multisite clinic director,” she said. “In a sense, I like to mentor and help develop people.”

Now, Tatham is in a pathways program to help her take the next step to district director.

She said she feels fortunate to work for a company that gives her opportunities to advance, and she hopes her success inspires others interested in the physical therapy field.

“I would certainly encourage them to get involved with the field, go ahead and try some shadowing and make sure it feels like a good fit for you because it is an investment in education,” she said. “I would really just encourage them to work hard and to set goals and work hard to achieve those, really gaining some personal experience to make sure that it’s something that truly interests you and just really sparks your interests toward it.”

Tatham file 

Name: Rachel Tatham

Age: 33

Hometown: Seymour

Residence: Columbus

Education: Seymour High School (2007); University of Indianapolis (bachelor’s degree in exercise science, 2010; doctorate in physical therapy, 2013)

Occupation: Multisite clinic director and physical therapist for ATI Physical Therapy

Family: Husband and four children

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