Show Me the Money


How to recruit and retain quality employees.

By Kim Stamp

James Collins, in his bestselling book Good to Great, said, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” I would take that a step further and add, “Without great vision, it is difficult to recruit and retain great people.” Creating an effective recruitment and retention plan is vital to the success of our private practice clinics.

Hiring in today’s physical therapy market is significantly more difficult than it was even five years ago. A September 2015 Forbes magazine article included physical therapy as one of the top 10 toughest jobs to fill in 2016. This makes hiring good therapists a challenge and retaining our current quality staff members a top priority. Let us look at how we can create an effective recruiting strategy and an innovative retention program for our current staff members.

Over the years, I have participated in numerous interviews, and without fail I find that one of the main things physical therapists are looking for is a place where they feel uniquely valued as an employee. My experience has led me to believe that seasoned therapists are looking for a company that will allow them to treat patients according to their passion and expertise, and that new grads are looking for a company that will take an active role in mentoring them.

We are living in an age where large national institutions are buying up smaller private practices and transforming them into clinics that pigeonhole physical therapists into their corporate system. This gives private practice clinics an opportunity to build a staff of exceptional practitioners who care for patients on a more individualized level. This diverse treatment approach is enticing to physical therapists looking for a quality company to work with. At the same time, hiring a new grad and mentoring them into a quality therapist can be a wonderful way to build your staff. Recently graduated physical therapists are usually more open to learning a particular style of treatment than those who have been practicing for several years. So, if your clinic specializes in a particular treatment approach, consider targeting new physical therapists that you can shape into the type of practitioner who will mesh well with your clinic’s style.

Creating effective strategies for attracting, recruiting, and retaining quality candidates is both multifaceted and immensely important. In today’s market, we must find a way to make our clinics stand out. In order to do this we must first be clear on our overall company vision. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it takes both great people and great vision to be successful. Narrow down what your company values and then create a vision statement that concisely expresses what you believe and what you are looking for. It may be helpful to ask yourself why someone would want to work for your company. If you cannot immediately and clearly answer this question, you have some work to do.

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Now more than ever, we have to sell our company to prospective employees. Knowing what your company values, and being able to concisely communicate those values, is paramount. Once you have become clear about your vision, make sure to insert that into your job announcement. More than anything else, you want your job ad to capture a therapist’s attention. Take your time when crafting your announcement and do not hesitate to look at what others are writing so that you can stand out in the crowd.

Another recruiting strategy to consider is accepting student interns in your practice. There are many positive aspects to being a clinical instructor, and one of those is having the opportunity to evaluate whether the student is a good fit for your company. In addition, the student has the opportunity to see what it would be like to work with you and the rest of the team. It is difficult to evaluate whether someone is a good fit just by doing an interview or two. Having a student intern for a few months will give you a clearer picture of how that person will function if they were to be hired. Reaching out to area physical therapy schools and offering to take interns is a good tool to use when trying to build your team.

Retaining quality staff is just as important as hiring the right people, and investing in our current staff is money well spent. Consider offering a monthly or quarterly incentive bonus based on patient feedback, revenue, productivity, or any combination of these or other factors. Another tactic is to increase the amount of time and money you designate for therapist’s continuing education each year. Or consider paying for the therapist’s license and/or professional dues over and above their continuing education. Last, take time to consistently recognize your staff in tangible ways. Whether it is with a monthly employee appreciation award or handwritten thank you notes to your staff, make it a priority to encourage, support, and reward your team. Therapists want to feel valued by their employers, not just for the revenue they generate but for the hard work of giving quality care to their patients.

Staying competitive in today’s challenging job market is difficult. As private practice owners and administrators, it is imperative that we become both strategic and innovative in our recruitment and retention practices. By following these suggestions, you can attract, and keep, quality employees for years to come.


Kim Stamp is the regional business manager for South Sound Physical & Hand Therapy in Olympia and Tacoma, and the vice president for the Washington State Physical Therapy Managers Association. She can be reached at

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