3 Tips for Hiring a staff Physical Therapist

So you’ve gotten to the point where your practice is getting busier and busier, and you as the practice owner can no longer treat all of the patients and manage all of the day to day business aspects.  Once you reach that 20+ hours of direct patient care, it’s time to hire someone else to help you.  This is a very exciting time, but also a little stressful because how can you be sure another physical therapist will bring as much excitement, dedication and enthusiasm to your practice as you do?!  You can’t be sure.

1.  Post an ad.  We’ve experimented with all types of avenues – indeed, craigslist, APTA, monster, head hunters, etc.  For our area, I found the APTA to be the best source thus far and only about $90/month to post (every time I’ve found within the first month).  I’ve hired many great candidates, although typically the new grads to 2 years out of school.  So if you’re looking for a more seasoned PT, this may not be your best bet.  I’ve found newer grads to easy to shape and mold into the type of clinician I want them to be.  Their personality and work eithic are my top priorities, and past that I choose to train them into what I’m looking for.  

2. Interviewing.  I typically will do some type of screening via email or on the phone.  Phone is better for obvious reasons; hearing their voice, getting a glimps into their personality, getting candid, immediate responses to your questions.  If they pass that, I bring them into my hiring office.  If you have another staff physical therapist already working for you, include them in this process.  Allow them to compose questions of their own and get a feel of how they will work together.  

So what do you hope to get out of an interview???  Here’s what I want.  I want to know what their personality is like; how will they get along with patients of verious ages, backgrounds, injuries, cultures?  How will they handle difficult situations?  How will they get along with my current staff and me?  These cannot be learned or taught, so these need to be present from the beginning.  

I also always do some type of mock evaluation or case scenario.  I want to know their style; are they going to put their hands on me and not be awkward?  Will they ask the right questions?  This helps me to gauge their approach, but also a better look at their personality and how they work under pressure.  Most physical therapists are caught completely off guard when I do this, but why?  I have never interviewed for a job where they tested my skills.  Why is that?!  Don’t you want to know a snipit of what they will be like in this area?  How can a standard interview give insight to this at all?  Test them; challenge them with difficult situations.  At the very least, you can detect where they need training or mentorship.

3. Selecting “the one”.  Aside from their resume and the interview, little extras help to win me over more.  I love getting thank you notes (handwritten is so much more personal than email) for the chance to interview.  I like candidates that are quick to respond via email and voicemails; this shows me that they truly care about this position and don’t want to miss an opportunity to work with us.  

From there, I use my gut.  I put together an offer letter with a definitive date to accept or decline the position; usually only a couple of days; if you love the idea of working for us, then it shouldn’t take a week to decide.  Then this gives me the opportunity to offer the job to the next best candidate if the first doesn’t accept.  And don’t stress if they try to negotiate.  You were there once, and negotiating is all part of it.  Calculate what $2 will really mean to you and decide if it truly matters or not to the health of the company.  You can even add a clause in their contract that you will increase the rate if they agree to bring in 2 patients on their own doing each month.  Then you can offset your cost increase.


Good luck!  It’s so exciting to be able to bring another physical therapist on board in your clinic.  Shoot me any comments if you have specific questions or scenarios you’d like help with.

Similar Posts