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How To Hire a Physical Therapist: 7 Tips for Hiring the Best Fit

Learn how to hire a physical therapist that fits your practice's needs. Read our best tips for recruiting & interviewing qualified PTs.

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How To Hire a Physical Therapist: 7 Tips for Hiring the Best Fit

From maintaining high-quality patient care to adopting new niche services, hiring the right physical therapists and therapist assistants is key to overall practice success. When looking to hire a physical therapist, practice owners must take the necessary steps to ensure they attract new PT talent that best fits their workplace culture, patient needs, and current and future practice goals.

Here are the top seven tips for recruiting and interviewing to hire a physical therapist best fit for your practice.

1. Develop Job Description and Position Requirements

When a PT practice begins its hiring journey, one of the first and most crucial steps is to develop a detailed job listing. An effective job listing must provide an in-depth job description and specific hiring requirements. When creating a job listing, first give a quick overview of the practice and include details such as therapy specialties and patient demographics.

As with most medical-related job positions, it’s imperative to establish and list the licenses, certifications, and degrees candidates must possess. Across the physical therapy space, these certifications commonly include proof of an accredited training program completion, the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE), and various state-specific licensing requirements.

Beyond licensing and certification requirements, it’s just as important to list the essential job skills required to fill the position to ensure a candidate is a good fit for your business. From physical therapists to physical therapist assistants, a professional may need to possess various skills, including hands-on capabilities, billing knowledge, and general customer service skills.

2. Decide Whether You Need Full-Time Physical Therapists or Freelance Physical Therapists

When looking to hire a physical therapist, many practices are left to decide whether to hire a physical therapist full-time or a PT on a freelance contract basis. Also called “1099 physical therapists” or “per-diem physical therapists,” the decision to hire a freelance therapist is based on the specific needs of the practice and the type of facility seeking candidates to fill a position.

For example, many outpatient centers and hospitals will hire freelance physical therapists on a need-be basis when they find that current patient needs outweigh the bandwidth of existing full-time staff. As for smaller, office-based physical therapy practices, many will opt to hire full-time physical therapists to support patient-provider relationships, and ongoing treatment needs better.

3. Use Top Physical Therapist Recruitment Methods

Effective recruitment methods are necessary to hire a physical therapist in today’s increasingly competitive job market. One popular form of recruitment is to implement employee referral programs. Many of the in-house PT professionals you trust are connected with outside talent, and these team members can bring in pre-vetted PTs and PTAs to streamline the process.

Aside from referral and word-of-mouth programs, there are countless online resources to hire a physical therapist. Online job boards such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and APTA allow recruiters to organize and post a detailed job listing and offer a portal for therapists to input application details. These platforms allow recruiters to quickly assess applicant details and weed out unqualified individuals more effectively.

Similarly, many physical therapy practices operate robust social media accounts and websites that outside PT professionals traffic. Social media accounts can announce job openings within a practice and create an avenue for applicants to inquire about the position. The same can be said regarding a practice’s website, where a career portal can be embedded to offer a straightforward solution for applying for a PT position

4. How to Recruit Recent Physical Therapy Graduates

Another method of recruiting when looking to hire a physical therapist is considering the use of recent graduates. The 2020-2030 job outlook for physical therapists is much higher than average, signaling significant opportunities for recent students. Unfortunately, with a high demand for physical therapists also comes increased competitiveness amongst the PT practices seeking them.

When looking to recruit recent physical therapy graduates, timing is critical. Be sure to ramp up your recruitment efforts around November and December, when many students are gearing up to graduate. Research local educational institutes that offer PT programs and participate in job fairs. You can meet upcoming graduates, introduce your practice, and offer information regarding current job openings or apprenticeship programs.

5. How to Recruit Physical Therapists with More Experience

If recent PT graduates aren’t your preferred applicant type when looking to hire a physical therapist, you may want to seek candidates with more hands-on experience. However, it’s important to note that recruiting PT professionals with extensive resumes and skill sets can be a bit more challenging, as these individuals are often already well planted in a secure position.

So, when looking to hire a veteran PT professional, try taking a different route. Network with other health professionals in various fields, such as pediatric and orthopedic medicine, to find alternative talent. These medical professionals may have connections or desirable career moves that could lead to the successful recruitment of an experienced therapist.

Likewise, when on the hunt for experienced talent, you may also need to do some in-depth outreach. While online job ads are great for those seeking employment — particularly among a younger crowd — conducting cold outreach to those who already hold a PT position can be a great way to express interest in their skills and offer them an enhanced salary.

6. How to Interview Physical Therapist Candidates

Once your hospital, clinic, or physical therapy practice has gathered a pool of potential candidates, it’s time to conduct interviews. The interview process is when you’ll learn more about the candidate personally, like how they’ll mesh with your current practice culture. When interviewing for a physical therapist position, be sure to follow best practices, including:

  • Request proof of physical therapy licensing, certification, and prior experience.
  • Inquire about past experiences or challenges in the physical therapy industry.
  • Ask how the PT motivates and engages patients or how they communicate with them to reach treatment goals.
  • Develop workplace scenarios to inquire how the PT would effectively communicate and navigate the situation.

Depending on your specific hiring setting, these best practices can be modified to accommodate your physical therapy operational needs better. However, the common goal here is to secure quality talent that can benefit both your practice and long-term patient care success

7. How to Get a Good Fit for Your Practice Culture

Though physical therapy skills and expertise are a must to uphold the responsibilities of a PT practice, it’s equally as important to locate a candidate that matches your practice culture when looking to hire a physical therapist. An employee with the same physical therapy core values can help maintain employee satisfaction, productivity, and engagement with teammates.

When creating a job listing for potential PT talent, define your company culture and include critical defining points such as overall practice mission, goals, and general day-to-day work environment expectations. This helps applicants understand what your practice will expect from new physical therapy hires and better prepare them for the work ahead.

The Bottom Line

If you need help preparing to hire a physical therapist for your practice, seek practice management tools that provide a bird’s eye view of your operations, from referral sources to financial reporting. At MWTherapy, our all-in-one practice software makes it simple to understand more about your business and improve profitability. Schedule a demo today to learn more.

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