How To Recruit A Physical Therapist

By far, requests by clients to recruit Physical Therapists are higher now than ever before. In past years, Physical Therapists needed a Bachelor’s Degree in order to enter the workforce. The Master’s Degree requirement quickly ensued with a Doctorate Degree now being the preferred program by many hiring organizations and is the standard educational level nationally. Additionally, with life expediencies increasing, athletics, and physical health becoming more main stream, the need for more PTs continues to increase. This, accompanied by increasing educational requirements, has slowed the process by which they can enter the workforce and subsequently fill open jobs.

With life expediencies increasing, athletics, and physical health becoming more main stream, the need for more PTs continues to increase.

As a career recruiter, I have a different view on recruitment than your typical hospital recruiter. First, I recruit for hundreds of hospitals in virtually all areas of the country, not for just one or two locations in a given state. Secondly, I am able to review numerous compensation plans from both profit and not-for-profit facilities, not just one health system. Therefore, I can tell you who recruits well and who does not. By far, the organizations that recruit and retain efficiently have developed a program that does three things well.

  1. Overall compensation. For starters let’s discuss compensation. I say overall compensation because people are more likely to take a position with flexibility. Flexibility can help you attract in some cases even better talent then pay. I recently read an article about Gen X being more likely to take a position that allows some time on social media: Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Flexibility can also help aggressive candidates squeeze every workable hour out of a normal work week. I’m talking about someone working 4-10’s, then PRN for their off day making time and a half. Then possibly working some on the weekend too. This candidate is likely to work hard and play hard. Probably has expensive hobbies or is keeping up with the lifestyle. Not uncommon with a young Dad who wants to retire the wife or let Mother raise the kids until they are school age. Flexibility = $. Savings and quality. Competitive Pay, flexible schedule, and some freedoms. It’s pretty hard to leave that for an extra $3 per hour. How cool the company is can make a difference on how well you perform and attract prospective employees. It’s no secret that Live-Work-Play is hot. How do you suppose Google and Facebook employees enjoy their work? Why can’t this work in healthcare. I was recently in a small town in Nebraska and the hospital CEO intentional opted to convert a room that could be used for medical use into a Physician/Employee lounge. A spot where they can write a report, check their stocks, and finish off break while surfing CNN.
  2. Commitment. Hey, if we can commit to you, can you give us at least 2 years? You can’t expect people to stay forever, but you can expect to get at least a few years from someone pursuing your position as well. I would describe this as good business. Good for the candidates because they know they have a home and they purchase a house or sign a lease. Good for an employer because they don’t have to be distracted from their core business nursing prospective employee’s all the time either. I’m a big fan of ongoing retention and recruitment, but it can’t consume your business. That’s what I’m here for.

Nothing speaks louder than a company trying to roll out the red carpet on an interview.

The presentation and relocation. Nothing speaks louder than a company trying to roll out the red carpet on an interview. If you don’t know, ask your recruiter what others are doing, what can make this person feel special, what interest them. Make them feel special and welcome. It’s recruiting. If they are entertaining this, they are recruited candidates. After presentation comes the follow up offer of relocation, should the candidate become offer-worthy. Here we are (us); we are interested and want to make you happy. No one wants to go out to rural America or even semi-rural, mid-sized communities (pop 80-350K) and limit the amount of employers they can work for once they settle down. This rings true especially for the seasoned professionals that have gone down that path before.

Right now it’s important that, when markets are becoming more difficult to recruit in, we remain steadfast in our approach to hire quickly, aggressively, and I think you won’t find yourself struggling near as much to keep up if you can make important recruitment decisions on the fly. I’m not suggesting you get reckless, but I’ve seen small market healthcare facilities and groups look for well over a year for a prospective candidate or force themselves into paying temp rates. Thus spending what they should have on the candidate in the first place. Sometimes it’s the pay; sometimes it’s the relocation fee … student loan assistance … perhaps flexibility for a family hobby?

If you can’t get the help, then you can’t effectively treat the patient. If you aren’t treating patients, then they will go elsewhere or not benefit from the recommended therapies.

If you are in the business of healthcare, then be aggressive in these tight markets. Sooner or later the market will bounce back and it won’t be nearly as difficult to recruit PT’s. History has shown us these markets are cyclical.


Andy McCall, Managing Partner, Sr Recruiter

AM@MLee.com | Tel (512) 444-6400 x51 Mobile (972) 653-2600

McCall and Lee, LLC