The PT hiring challenge that is only getting harder

Whether it’s to ease workload or to expand capacity, most practice owners at some point will want to add clinicians to their staff. (In a video this week, I talk about how to tell it’s the right time to hire another PT.)  

Hiring additional PTs is a next natural step in growth. For many PT owners, one big problem quickly reveals itself: where are they?

Whenever I hear PT owners and managers talk about the lack of qualified, available PTs, I think about two numbers, two diverging data points that can tell the story of PT hiring.

Figure 1: According to APTA, applicants that use its PTCAS—that’s the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service—were down more than 5 percent last year. Among the PT programs that participate in PTCAS, 71 percent saw a decrease in applicants.

Figure 2: According to the US Department of Labor, demand for PTs is forecasted to grow by 28 percent between now and 2026. For PT assistants and aides, that demand increase is expected to be even larger—30 percent.

I don’t have to tell you what declines in new PTs combined with a surge in demand for PT services means: an ultra-competitive hiring landscape.

As PT owners, how should you respond?

To recruit clinical talent, you need to know what you stand for, and exactly what you offer. You need to be able to demonstrate to potential hires what’s different about your clinic from the others. You also need to show, through solid management practices, you’re going to be around for a long time. That’s how you’ll attract the right clinicians for your practice and keep them with you as you grow.

3 ways to gain a competitive hiring edge:

Define your mission

Knowing your mission is CRITICAL for attracting right-fit patients—and also for attracting top-performing talent to your team. Who are you and what do you do? Every practice, whether you offer general or specialty PT care, needs to engage in developing a clear, specific vision.

In a mission-driven practice, everyone is working toward a clear, shared goal. That kind of alignment of purpose makes for more productive—and happier—teams. Those are the teams that top-flight talent will want to join.

Having a vision helps you recruit great staff, an abundance of patients, and rock-solid referral partners. Developing a vision is one of the fundamental trategies I share in my FREE guide,

3 Simple Things That Will Get You More Patients and Make You More Money Right Now.

Think beyond money

Money is a motivator for potential new hires, of course. But it’s most often not the primary motivator. A supportive, learning-focused culture, flexibility in schedules, the opportunity for mentorship also matter a lot to candidates.  Your willingness and ability to offer these benefits to your team can be the difference attracting and retaining your best staff. How well does your clinic do in providing these important elements to staff? Identify where you’re falling short and work to strengthen your ability to deliver these critical components.

Engage around the future

Strategic planning is essential for growth and maximizing profitability. Strategic planning also enables you to show potential hires what your priorities are for the future, and what advancement can look like in your clinic. The opportunity to advance is a huge factor for employees at all stages of career. A recent LinkedIn study found that lack of advancement is the TOP reason employees leave jobs.  We all want to grow and develop in our professional lives. No matter the size of your clinic, having a vision for the future and a plan to back it up will help in recruiting the people you need to make that vision a reality. You don’t have to do it alone—strategic planning is one of the most common goals that send PT practice owners seeking guidance and coaching. Ask for help!