What to Look for When Hiring a Physical Therapist for Your Practice

Characteristics to Look for When Hiring a Physical Therapist for Your Practice

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In our last article, we discussed the difference between good and bad staff members and how each affects the culture of your clinic. You now know what a necessity hiring good staff is, but which positions do you need to hire, who is best suited to help relieve you of clinical responsibility, and most importantly, how do you keep great employees around long-term? Keep reading to learn how to effectively hire personnel you won’t take home with you at the end of the day.

What’s The Big Idea?

Before getting started, it’s critically important to remember the big idea of why each staff member needs to be hired with careful consideration. The big idea behind needing AMAZING personnel is to eventually work ourselves out of our jobs.

Yes, you read that correctly; we want to work ourselves out of our jobs, or at least, the clinical aspects of them. To be an effective business owner and not merely self-employed, it’s necessary to hire employees who can take over each of your clinical responsibilities without leaving you in a constant state of worry.

To make this happen, you must first examine what your current responsibilities are.

Do you answer phone calls?

Treat patients?

Handle payroll?

Oversee marketing tasks?

This list varies for everyone, but below are common areas owners manage that should be delegated to reliable staff.


Answering phones, scheduling patients, handling mail, and constantly having to correct the work your current receptionist does


Writing or publishing ads, taking people through the hiring process, and training your new hires

Internal Marketing

Re-activating past patients, managing past referral sources, creating a newsletter, and collecting patient success stories

External Marketing

Marketing to physicians, creating workshops for the general public, and seeking out new referral sources

Billing and Finance

Submitting bills to insurance companies and patients, posting received payments, writing checks, working old accounts, and payroll

Delivering PT Services and Products

Treating patients, bringing patients back from waiting room, preparing treatment area, instructing exercise, training support staff to deliver PT service, and selling exercise equipment

Quality Control

Clinical: Ensuring services delivered are what patients expect

Administrative: Staff performing as expected to best serve patients and the clinic

Billing: Making sure it’s done correctly, accurately, and reflective of what patients expect

Executive and Legal

Doing taxes, managing loans, navigating compliance with health care laws, rules, and regulations

If you’re still doing a lot of these tasks, it’s definitely time to start looking for some new team members.

Your Ideal Staff Member

So what does the IDEAL staff member look like?

To cut straight to the point, the ideal staff member is someone you don’t have to worry about when you are out of the clinic or home with your family! Some characteristics to look for are:

Good Communication

Someone communicates well when they are easy to understand, don’t talk down to others, and can speak or write in a way that others are able to duplicate.

Don’t assume a smart therapist is automatically a good communicator. You’ll have more success with staff who can speak openly and respectfully to each other, than with a brilliant group of people who talk over people’s heads and create tension in the workplace.


One of my favorite questions to ask a potential hire is what problems they have solved in the past.

Staff members who take it upon themselves to solve problems will help your business thrive. Instead of fixating on problems, they take action to make things better without prompting.


We like to believe that, given the chance, most people would choose to do the right thing in a difficult situation. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

When looking for a new employee, it’s important to ask questions about tough ethical situations.  You want to ensure their ethical compass is aligned with your own. Given the opportunity, will they do what is right, or take shortcuts to make their day easier?


Does their work history suggest they’re capable of and enjoy producing? People who show up to work just to look busy are going to hold your business back.

Staff members should understand that your company is about being productive, and the good ones will embrace this mentality.

High Affinity for PT

Do your team members believe in the physical therapy profession and what we stand for? Have they had good or bad personal experiences with PT in the past?

These are important things to understand before hiring someone. A person who truly believes in your product will help to create a positive, supportive culture where patients are set up for success. In contrast, someone who’s had a negative past experience with PT may not hesitate to direct unhappy patients to competing practitioners.

Contribute to the Community

What type of community does your clinic foster?

Do you participate in fundraising events? Grab drinks together after work on Thursdays? Have potluck lunches every month?

It’s imperative that new hires are willing to be part of the community of your clinic. Having a personality that’s cohesive with your current team will help create a good atmosphere for everyone, including patients.

Leaves Baggage at the Door

Dramatic behavior is something you want to keep out of your clinic. Asking questions about relationships with previous co-workers, or how people cope with stressful situations can often give good insight into a person’s tendencies for either keeping the peace or fueling the fire.

If you’re unsure about what you can legally ask someone in an interview, consult with your legal representative to make sure you’re staying within safe boundaries!

For more information on recognizing good staff members from bad ones, check out our previous post (link to previous post here).

Two Types of Acceptable Staff

It’s unrealistic to believe that everyone you hire will be with your company forever. Knowing someone’s expectations for their job before you hire them is critical.

There are two types of acceptable positions when you’re hiring for your clinic, and it’s important to understand how to deal with each.

Permanent, Long-term Position

This is often the goal. These are the employees who plan to remain with your company for the foreseeable future. They will be trained based on the mission and expectations of your company and continue to grow into their roles, in turn, helping your business grow as well.

Short-term, Stepping Stone Position

Certain positions are likely never going to be permanent positions. These include aides, certain administrative roles, and sometimes PTs.

These people are often driven and looking to eventually move forward with their careers, maybe returning to school or opening a business of their own. While this ambition will likely make them good employees, it’s important to know their intentions up front so you can plan for the future while still giving them what they need in the present.

We suggest coming up with an agreement from the start with specific dates in place so everyone is always on the same page.

Wrapping up

We’ve gone over areas to hire employees in, what ideal staff members look like, and the different types of positions that are acceptable (and expected) when hiring staff.

Use this information as a tool to narrow down areas you might need to hire new employees in. Remember, the big idea here is to eventually work yourself out of a job, so put the time into building a team you know you can trust!

For more information on hiring a Physical Therapist to your practice and PT marketing strategies to grow your business click here!

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