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BW pre-physical therapy graduate fulfills vision for launching her PT practice

BW alumna Dr. Athena Ridgley '18 of Bee Well Physical Therapy has a passion for practicing physical therapy the "right way."

Dr. Athena Ridgely '18

Dr. Athena Ridgely's dream of owning her own physical therapy practice began after witnessing her own mother make very little progress during a discouraging, cookie-cutter PT program to rehab her shoulder following a rotator cuff repair surgery.

That was years before Ridgely arrived at BW to major in pre-physical therapy and exercise science.

When asked about this time in her life, Ridgely noted, "Even as a teen, I recognized that the rehabilitation model needed a serious revamp."

According to Bee Well Therapy's website, after Ridgely's mom made significant progress in a new customized therapy program, the drastic difference in approaches and outcomes inspired Ridgely's dream to become a physical therapist "who truly invests in her patients, dives into understanding their unique conditions, and helps them achieve their goals."

Ridgley remarked, "I learned that not all healthcare professionals are created equal, and we should be picky with who we trust with our care."

Schooling and career

A PT room at Bee Well Physical Therapy in Medina, Ohio

Ridgely focused her education on becoming the physical therapist she envisioned by completing Medina County Career Center's sports medicine and exercise science program, her bachelor's degree in pre-physical therapy and exercise science at BW, and her doctorate of physical therapy at the University of Dayton.

As she embarked on her career, she said, "I knew that my dream job did not exist out there, so I was going to need to create it if I was going to accomplish my goals."

Ridgely decided to bring her brand of physical therapy done the "right way" back to her hometown of Medina, Ohio. Late last year, she opened Bee Well Physical Therapy, where she aspires to give her community "a reliable and trustworthy health and wellness resource."

Back to BW for Digital Marketing Support

The logo designed as part of a BW Digital Marketing Center and Hive Design Group collaborative projec

As a solo entrepreneur, Ridgely learned that she needed to broaden her skill set beyond her clinical mastery in order to get her business up and running.

When figuring out how to manage her long list of tasks, she thought back to past conversations regarding BW's Digital Marketing Center (DMC) - a program that allows students to work with real businesses - and immediately reached out to DMC director and assistant professor Tim Marshall.

Lucy Cummins '23, a digital media design graphic design major, led a DMC student team as they worked with Ridgely to create a web and social media presence, as well as launch an electronic health records system. They collaborated with students from BW's Hive Design Group to create a logo and other branded materials.

Ridgely said this about working with the DMC, "I can't express how pivotal it was to have the support of Tim and the BW DMC as I launched my business. … I am forever grateful for the support I received from these BW resources."

Marshall notes the DMC project was funded by a Women for BW Giving Circle grant that provided DMC micro-internships to support women-led businesses.

Although Ridgely has graduated and gotten her business up and running, she works to stay involved at BW, connected to faculty and supportive of the Department of Allied Health, Sport and Wellness.

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