Soar to New Heights

Multicolored Birds

Diversity in the workplace and its correlation with success.

By Roy Rivera Jr, PT, DPT, PhD

Being a private practice owner or working in a private practice setting comes with its own unique set of challenges.

These challenges are diverse and can range from administrative to clinical or even be patient centered. But try being a private practice owner in the fourth most populous city in the country, with the largest medical center in the world! Welcome to Houston, Texas.

I, like most other private practice owners, initially worked for a large hospital system for over 10 years. I played a small but critical role in the machine that is the Texas Medical Center. Although I worked in an acute care setting, I was fortunate enough to see a diverse patient population and gain experience in multiple arenas from orthopedic to neurologic and even pediatric populations. What did I gain from this, and what was applicable to my new venture as a private practice owner?

Diversity is the key to success.

I believe this to be true in both my personal and private practice lives. There are many ways in which diversity in the workplace positively correlates with employee productivity, patient outcomes, and most importantly, financial success. For this article, I will focus on diversity in the workplace and how it can help your practice.

Let us first look at the benefits of having a diverse staff. Diversity in your staff can come in many forms; for example, gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, and so on, all of which are protected by law. A recent study analyzed the relationship between levels of diversity in the workplace and financial performance. Researchers sampled hundreds of organizations in the United Kingdom, Canada, Latin America, and the United States. They found a statistically significant relationship between a more diverse leadership team and better financial performance. The companies in the top quartile of gender diversity were 15 percent more likely to have financial returns that were above their national industry median. Companies in the top quartile of racial/ethnic diversity were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median.1

Each employee brings a unique perspective to the table. Brainstorming, creativity, and problem solving are integral components of business growth. Imagine being up to bat with just one pitch and being asked to hit a home run. Now imagine being up to bat with 10 pitches and being asked to hit a home run. Diversity increases your chances of hitting that home run and ultimately translates into success.

Having a diverse staff also benefits patients. People come in all shapes, sizes, and forms so having a staff that mirrors the population is an advantage. A diverse patient population also brings challenges in multiple forms: with insurance benefits and coverage, with personalities and social interactions, and most importantly, within the clinical realm and treatment approaches. Are there systems in place to guide both staff and patients toward successful outcomes? Of course! However, what about those individuals who were unsatisfied or who never met their therapy goals? There was a point in the system where their needs were not met. Diversity could be the answer.

Along this line of thinking, I want to bring one unique perspective to light that we have encountered in our facility. We are primarily an orthopedic and sports medicine rehabilitation facility. Most of our patient population consists of weekend athletes and patients recovering from joint replacements.

However, we have recently noticed an uptick in referrals of transgender patients from a local general practitioner who specializes in transgender family medicine. According to McDowell & Bower (2016), transgender people experience high rates of discrimination in health care settings, which is linked to decreases in physical and mental wellness.2 Having a diverse staff makes us better equipped to handle diverse patient populations and situations. We did an excellent job of integrating transgender rehabilitative medicine into our practice, from the front desk insurance verification process to clinical evaluation and treatment. In turn, this physician’s practice now trusts us as a preferred provider for all their transgender rehabilitative needs.

The day-to-day challenges that we encounter in private practice settings vary. They can depend on your staff, your patient population, or even your payer mix. One thing is certain, however; diversity is key to the success and survival of your practice.


1Hunt V, Layton D, Prince S. Diversity Matters. New York: McKinsey & Company; 2015.

2McDowell A, Bower KM. Transgender health care for nurses: an innovative approach to diversifying nursing curricula to address health inequities. Journal of Nursing Education. 2016;55(8):476-479.

Roy Rivera Jr

Roy Rivera Jr, PT, DPT, PhD, is a PPS member. He can be reached at

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