How to Hire Physical Therapists: Job Skills
By: John Rossheim
Are you looking to hire a physical therapist? Often referred to as simply PTs, physical therapists are among the most sought-after clinicians in all of allied health. The demand for PTs is increasing as the number of uninsured decreases and the population ages,” says Marc Goldstein, senior director of research at the American Physical Therapy Association.
Do keep in mind that with scores of physical therapy programs starting over the last decade, the supply of PTs is growing rapidly. “Employers are getting back a little more power in labor market,” says Dacko.
Here's what recruiters and employers need to know to recruit, source and hire physical therapy talent.
Key PT Licenses and Certifications:
- PTs must complete an accredited PT training program
- Student PTs must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination
- PTs must meet the PT licensing requirements of the physical therapy board of the state where they intend to practice
- PT specialist certifications are available in eight areas recognized by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.
- The 50 states all have their own requirements for continuing PT education
Recruiter Tip:“Hospitals like to get PTs who can handle more than one specialty, and they need people in outpatient, inpatient, acute and rehab,” says Andy McCall, manager and team leader for physical therapist recruiting at McCall and Lee in Frisco, Texas.
Key Job Skills in Physical Therapy Candidates:
- Keen observational skills
- Hands-on capability
- Ability to educate patients on self-treatment
- An empathy to work effectively with patients
- Interpersonal skills to work well with their colleagues
- An understanding of how PTs fit into the provider organization and the broader healthcare system
Learn More: Physical Therapist Sample Job Description
“A caring personality is important,” says McCall. And given that healthcare reform has changed the competitive landscape for reimbursement, “PT has a sales and customer service aspect now, especially for outpatient.”
“We tell students to emphasize their awareness of how the system works,” says Stan Dacko, chair of the physical therapy department at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa.
New Job Skills Trends for PTs:
Home health care
Manual therapy, including exercises that patients can perform without special equipment
Recruiter Tip: Given that healthcare reform has changed the competitive landscape for reimbursement, “PT has a sales and customer service aspect now, especially for outpatient,” adds McCall.
Sourcing Physical Therapy Graduates:
- Students in PT programs are typically snapped up by employers months before they graduate
- Recruiter participation in jobs events is key
- Engage with potential new hires before they graduate
Recruiter Tip: “November is when the hiring happens, and like most PT programs, our graduates have a 100 percent employment rate,” says McCall.
Sourcing Experienced PTs:
- Be prepared to use “every means necessary”
- This can include cold-calling, online networking, online job ads
- Build and maintain relationships with physical therapist training programs
Recruiter Tips on How to Source Physical Therapists:
- "Two to 10 years of experience is optimal, because they’ve learned how to work fast, and work well with patients,” says McCall.
- Large employers of PTs seek many opportunities to develop a relationship with a promising candidate. Kristen Peterson, PT, of Chicago, aware of Athletico through the provider's many storefront operations, met with a representative at a career fair at her school, did clinical rotations with the company, kept abreast of job openings on their web site, and successfully responded to the opportunity at the geographic location that suited her best.
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