Guest poster: Keith Mahler, PT, MPT, CEAS, CCI
You’ve done it! You made it through PT school, and now it’s time to start paying off your loans. Off you go to look for a job. There are many opportunities for new grads in this changing healthcare environment. It's not all about the PAY. You want a job that is challenging, fun and stable. Frankly, you should have been looking one year prior to your graduation, but all is not lost if you’re a procrastinator. Your pre-grad search can be helpful in making the right decision of where to work. I've talked to too many first year PTs that have made the wrong decision. They ask for guidance from me, and all too often, I tell them they need to stick it out for a year or so.
In your pre-grad search, you may notice trends of certain clinics consistently posting ads looking for a new physical therapist. This can indicate a high turnover rate. You don't want to work there. Your first two years out of school are a critical time in your development as a PT. You need to work in an environment that fosters learning. Clinics with high therapist turnover and high productivity rates (e.g. 15 min treats) are not good places to learn.
My advice to you as a new physical therapist?
I’ve written this guest post for newgradphysicaltherapy.com so that you will have an honest perspective about what goes through my head during the hiring process. While any boss longs for the perfect blend of creativity, intelligence and congeniality, at the end of the day, I have a clinic to run, bills to pay and patients to keep happy. In a word, I need you to be hardworking. The “treat and go home” mentality simply won’t fit my small business.
I run a small outpatient orthopedic clinic in San Diego. I pride my clinic on providing exceptional patient care, a quiet and friendly workspace, and a close-knit staff of trusted employees. It has taken some time to build the right team. During the 12 years of running clinics, I have seen my share of employees. While all of them have their strengths, many have not lasted because it simply was not a good fit. The ones who have stuck around are willing to work, both in the clinic and out of the clinic, and they have reaped the benefits.
That means whatever I offer you as compensation has a nice chunk of extra cost to my clinic added on top. When hiring, I factor in 1.6x your base salary as a true cost to me. Therefore, a therapist wanting a salary of $35/hour would cost me $56/hour.
The average therapist is rarely 100% productive in a practice. Therapist productivity rates typically vary from 66 to 80%, due to normal ebbing and flowing of patient load, cancellations, etc. The money lost through unproductive time, along with declining reimbursement rates, often leaves very little profit for the clinic. By bringing you on board, I believe I am investing in both the clinic, as well as investing in YOU. For that reason, I expect you will do your part to make sure that it was a wise investment for both the employer and the employee.
That said, here are the top traits I look for in a new graduate PT:
1. Efficient Use of Time:
2. Willingness/Ability to Market:
4. Willingness to Treat:
By this point, you may be wondering, “What’s in it for me?”
I expect a lot from my employees. But in return, they receive excellent benefits, a generous cont-ed package, fun team outings, a genuinely caring and understanding employer, a warm family environment, and limitless growth opportunities. I will invest in you if you invest in me. Remember, net worth rarely comes from wages, and net worth is not self worth.