My Professional Journey as a Physical Therapist

collage of Sarah Borquist (Macomber) professional physical therapist, wife and dog lover

Therapeutic Associates

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By the time Sarah Borquist was a teenager, she knew she wanted to be a physical therapist. Between ankle sprains, knee pain and shoulder injuries, the self-professed “klutzy athlete” was no stranger to the world of rehab.

“So, we had our family PT – who my sister, my mom and dad and I all went to,” Sarah shared. “He was our person.”

Today, as clinic director at Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy – Wilsonville, Sarah not only values the opportunity she has every day to help people, but also strives to be her patients’ PT for life.

The journey from patient to student and from provider to managing her own clinic included a series of adventures and opportunities that Sarah looks back on with gratitude and a bit of amazement. In the end, she said, Therapeutic Associates is the company she started her career with, and the one she imagines retiring from.

“There’s actually a bunch of us who are like that, and I think that is really unique in the PT world,” she said.

Sarah began her education pursuing an undergrad degree in athletic training at the University of Nebraska, in her home state. Through the program, she worked with the Cornhusker athletic department. There, during her sophomore year, she had the opportunity to work with the different sports teams throughout their respective seasons. She spent her junior year assigned to the university’s women’s tennis team and had the opportunity to travel with them, which is how she discovered Southern California – during the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells event. Though she didn’t know it at the time, that trip would influence her next chapter.

As a senior, Sarah worked with the women’s soccer team doing a lot of rehabilitation and running what was typically referred to as “The ACL Club,” a rehab program for all the players in the various sports – soccer, volleyball, football – who had torn their ACLs.

“Soccer is actually a really high-risk and high-injury sport, so it was great being able to focus on their rehab – learning and helping and just doing what I really enjoyed.”

college age women during game play at soccer championship

Deciding where to go for graduate school to pursue her doctorate degree in physical therapy proved to be a pretty simple choice for Sarah.

“I think I applied to six different schools, but when you have a chance to go to the number one school in the nation, you take it, right?”

In addition to being a top-rated school, the University of Southern California presented an opportunity for Sarah to start a new adventure on the West Coast in a region she had felt drawn to since her trip with the Cornhusker tennis team.

Becoming a Physical Therapist

As she worked toward graduation, Sarah took a friend’s advice and sought a clinical rotation in Oregon, winding up as a student at Therapeutic Associates Lake Oswego Physical Therapy. Clinic director Shawn Dailey proved to be a good match for Sarah, with a sports-medicine focus that spoke to her strengths. She worked that semester alongside Shawn and Matt Rogers, who at that time had just completed his clinical rotation at Therapeutic Associates North Portland (Portland Athletic Center of Excellence) and was starting the Therapeutic Associates Orthopedic Residency Program.

“Everything I heard from Shawn and Matt about working for Therapeutic Associates was so great that while I was there, I decided I would apply when I graduated,” Sarah said. “I also loved the Northwest!”

As soon as she earned her doctorate degree, Sarah, at just 24 years old, accepted her first physical therapy job at Therapeutic Associates Canyon Park Physical Therapy in Seattle, WA.

Right away she knew it was a great fit. Sarah clicked with Chris Leck, the clinic director at the time.

“I really liked how he was focused on timelines and spending time with patients, getting that one-on-one time with each one of them.”

Chris was not only an ideal boss for Sarah, but he was also an excellent mentor.

“He was a sports guy – he’d played football at Notre Dame – so I got to learn a lot of his treatment styles,” Sarah said. “But he was also such a great mentor on the business side of things, the things you don’t think about as a new PT like managing patient schedules, how to make sure patients feel like they are getting the most out of your time without overstressing yourself, getting your notes done and things like that.”

Mentorship, Sarah found, came from throughout the company, too.

“We had PTs with these amazing physical therapy minds come in, like Bill Temes and David Deppeler. It could be intimidating but also an experience that pushes you to learn and grow.”

Additionally, Sarah found the company offered easy access to continuing education and she was able to take NAIOMT (North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy) courses, which today are a part of the Therapeutic Associates PT Cohort.

“They also had a bunch of classes you could take that would teach you things like marketing, which we’re not taught in PT school.”

When she joined Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy, Sarah envisioned becoming a clinic director one day. That opportunity came about three years later when the leadership team asked if she would be interested in opening a new clinic in Wilsonville, OR.

The idea, Sarah said, was a little intimidating. But despite the inevitable challenges the project presented, she felt reassured by the resources the company had in place to support her.

“I was starting from scratch, so I knew it was going to be hard. But it was one of those things like, you know, yeah, let’s do it – it’s a great opportunity and a new adventure.”

A Decade of Growth and Success

Sarah opened her clinic doors 10 years ago this year. She was just 27 years old.

“There’s no way I would have been able to be a clinic director, doing what I do now, on my own. Being a part of Therapeutic Associates, utilizing the resources the company gave me, and getting mentorship from some of the best PTs in the Northwest … those are the reasons that in just three years I had the confidence to be treating patients in a clinic by myself as well as growing a business, which was a long-term goal of mine from the beginning.”

During the past decade as director, Sarah said, her success has been bolstered by the professional and personal connections she’s made within the company. Having other directors and physical therapists to lean on and bounce ideas off of, whether it’s a business question or a certain patient whose case has her stumped, is ideal. Additionally, the centralized departments that are in place to manage things like billing and marketing allow Sarah to focus more on patient care, the aspect of her career that she loves and is driven by.

And, while Therapeutic Associates is a large organization with clinics throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California, each director has the freedom to manage their clinic operations in the way they feel is best.

“Having that autonomy is a huge part for me – to be able to create an environment that makes my clinic unique and to see what we feel is appropriate for our patients and the community we’re in is really important,” Sarah said. “It is always about the patients, if they don’t show up, if they don’t like it here, then we don’t have a clinic, right? Something I say a lot is that being injured sucks, it shouldn’t have to suck to come to PT.

“People often ask me if this is a franchise, and I explain that it’s more like a partnership in a law firm where we all have our own say in how we run our clinics. This is not a company that’s about money first; we are patient first. All of our shareholders are PTs, they’ve either run a clinic or are running a clinic now and I can call on any of them at any point in time if I have a question.”

Sarah Macomber_2022

As Sarah celebrates her clinic’s milestone 10-year anniversary, she aspires to become a shareholder as the next step in her professional journey.

“That to me is the pinnacle, an opportunity to be more involved in the company and, as I said before, I see this being the company I started with and the company I’ll retire with. We’ve got a lot of family ties throughout Therapeutic Associates, and I think that says a lot – that you would recommend it not just to your friends, but to your family.”

Interested in more insight? 

Check out this video to hear from other teammates about why they like working at Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy.

Physical therapy is one of the fastest-growing careers in the country. One of the benefits of being a physical therapist is that it offers individuals the chance to have a meaningful impact on patients every single day. If you have questions or are interested in learning more about joining the Therapeutic Associates team, visit our careers page to learn more and check out the current openings!

Join the Therapeutic Associates Family

If you’re looking for an opportunity to join a company that is committed to a collaborative culture of growth, inclusion and fulfillment, supported by resources that make a difference in your life, the life of your patients, your local communities and the world, consider a career with Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy.  With clinics throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California, we are always on the lookout for exceptional people who would be a great fit for our team!

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