The job market for physiotherapists is booming. In countries such as the United States and Canada, physical therapy is listed in the top 25 professions. The aging population and a shift towards active health care has also created a large demands for physical therapy and rehabilitation professions globally. Although these studies were published in a pre-COVID19 era, anecdotal research is showing that despite a pandemic, health care businesses are thriving. Following the economic effects of COVID19, we will see a turnover of retail space from commodities to service. This inevitably means there will be an increase in clinic services jobs. But job availability does NOT mean job quality! Where the outpatient ‘market’ lacks is in standardization, first and foremost, for its clients, and secondly for its employees and associates. Clinics which are focused on their staff, may initially lack certain things (ie pay, ideal job hours) but they excel in other areas such as staff retention and internal company culture. Here’s seven tips when seeking a great employer, along with questions to ask when meeting a prospective employer:
7 – Model of Practice
This is an obvious. Typically, a clinic’s website will hint at its model of practice. How many patients are seen in an hour? How long are you given to spend per patient? There is no perfect model. But it has to jive with your vision of practice. Some clinics are volume driven. Some clinics are experience driven. Questions to consider: Ask about a clinic’s revenue source – How much of it comes from auto and worker’s insurance? How much of it comes directly from patients? Are private patients’ insurance billed directly or do patients pay out of pocket? If much of a clinic’s revenue stream is directly paid from the patient’s pockets, it may indicate the clinic has high patient engagement rates.
6 – Vision, Core Values and Culture
This one is not as obvious. It is hard to gauge a clinic’s culture from the outside. Clinics with low staff turnover may indicate a positive team culture (see next point on staff retention). Vision and culture doesn’t just happen, it is groomed. Internal company culture has been shown to have a positive affect on client retention rates. (insert link- http://customerthink.com/how-company-culture-impacts-customer-experience) Questions to consider: How often does the clinic have team meetings? Meetings are an important way to bring the team together and keep spirits high. Are the owners/leaders of the clinic vocal about their vision? Do they excite the team? Do they inspire the team to do better?
5 – Collaboration
“Great things in business are never done by one person. They are done by a team of people.” Steve Jobs In an environment where our compensation is directly affected by the clients we see, we may not have enough time to interact with other team members. Great employers promote collaboration within the team’s individual strengths. Questions to consider: How often does the team collaborate? Are other skills besides clinical skills promoted? Is it encouraged to work with each other? What happens in times of struggle or unclarity? Who else, besides the clinic owners, can I go to for support?
4 – Staff Retention and Turnover
Great clinics keep their people. Why? Meaning is more important than money. Opportunities within the organization promotes retention. Regular feedback to staff always for growth and success. High internal turnover rates typically results in poor continuity of care for patients and poor morale within staff. Questions to consider: How many staff has left the clinic? Why have they left? What does the clinic provide to ensure long term growth of an associate?
3 – Employment Status
This is touchy issue. In the private practice sphere, the ‘independent contractor’ model tends to dominate and tends to be viewed as ‘better than being an employee.’ I believe this is the case because most physiotherapists feel they have more control and freedom in the independent contractor setting. Great teams cannot be made of independent contractors. There is a cost to being an employee, however, great employers will invest in their employees. If you are looking for a wonderful team environment, then you may be looking for an employee model. Employee models, on paper, may not seem to earn one as much as the individual contractor model; however, there is typically better sustainability and growth together as a team. Questions to consider: Are most of the associates at the clinic independent contractors or employees? Are most of them full time or part time? Unsure of what your employment status should be? There are employment laws that clarify the difference. It is simply not an agreement between clinician and clinic.
2 – How They Treat Their Administrative Staff
“First impressions are the most lasting.” Your patients go through the clinic’s front desk staff first. While many teams fill up their staff with strong clinicians, they forget about having a strong administrative team. Administrators also play a role in enhancing the patient experience; many clinics forget that. Administrators also play a role in enhancing the employee experience; they are the glue that sticks the team together. Questions to consider: What is the admin department called? Are they involved in team meetings? Do they have opportunities for growth? Is there high turnover within the admin team? Is there collaboration between admin and clinicians?
1 – Opportunities for Leadership
Growth within an organization doesn’t only mean financially. Employees seek professional growth in other areas like increased responsibility, portfolio diversification and opportunities for leadership. Employees who do the same ‘job’ year after year may experience burn out. Questions to consider: Are there other roles for me here besides being a clinician? What types of leadership opportunities are there within the organization? If you noticed, the 7 tips listed do not mention salary, compensation, or caseload management. Those things come organically to great teams. Consider these points while examining your current job and while looking for new opportunities. As professionals, we need to demand a high-quality standard from the clinics we practice in; we are ultimately benefitting the profession and the patients we treat. Learn more about Raj by following him on Instagram @rajsuppiah.pt
MScPT, Cert. MDT, Cert Sport PT.
Co-Founder and Director of Foundation Physiotherapy & Wellness. Raj has worked with athletes of all levels across the world and was a lead medical practitioner for the Toronto 2015 Pan-Am Games.