When is it Time to Fire Your OT?

Sep 27, 2019
7 min read

How do you know if it's time to fire your OT? How many excuses can someone have for poor job performance, constantly showing up late, or upsetting patients before it's time? Could they just be having a rough week? Read on to find out.


Is it time to fire your occupational therapist? A good occupational therapist has the potential to be the lifeblood of your facility’s healthcare team. Occupational therapists work closely with patients to improve their level of function. They increase their quality-of-life and help them live a fuller life. On the other hand, there may come a time when an occupational therapist is not doing their best work. This decline may be due to a variety of reasons, including personal issues, lack of job satisfaction, and difficulty integrating with the staff at your healthcare facility. How do you know when it's time to let them go?

Time to fire: Declining quality of work

One of the first steps to take after you notice a decline in work quality is to sit down with your occupational therapist. Find out what is going on with them. A lowered quality of work is one of the first signs pointing toward something being wrong at work. Having a conversation with your occupational therapist could shed some light on the situation. Possibly your occupational therapist is no longer completing stellar documentation or implementing top-notch treatments. Maybe they’re just generally not putting forth the type of work they typically do. A decline in job performance may be due to personal issues; it might just be due to an ‘off’ day or week. It might be too early to fire them without considering these factors.

There might be an underlying issue. Set aside time to speak with them about what might be affecting their performance. If your occupational therapist divulges the reason for changes in performance, discuss accommodations or ways to get through this tough time. If this problem persists longer than a week or two, you will know that other options need to be explored. It may be time to let this therapist go. Otherwise, this occupational therapist’s performance may negatively impact the department and even the facility as a whole.

Time to fire: Not meeting productivity standards

Along with a decline in the quality of work, you might notice a decline in the quantity of work. If your occupational therapist is not completing the number of treatments she is assigned to, this is problematic and might be grounds to fire them. Again, your occupational therapist may come to you to discuss personal issues or with other issues that may impact her ability to perform for a full work day.

Some ways to resolve poor productivity standards may include sitting down with that therapist to develop a modified work schedule. Complete this by perhaps temporarily or permanently changing to part-time status if your department allows it. Yet if your therapist is consistently leaving early, unable to finish the work day, and/or otherwise avoiding a full day of patient care, it may be time to find a new occupational therapist who is able to do these things.

Time to fire: Receiving bad feedback from patients

There are always instances where a therapist does not get along with certain patients. Every facility has their problem patients who are difficult to work with. It is not uncommon to find a patient here or there who is unsatisfied with their occupational therapist. This is sometimes more so the case with patients who refuse to do any treatment with their therapists. If you are consistently receiving bad feedback about the same occupational therapist, this may be cause for concern.

Bad feedback may come in the form of complaints from patients, treatment refusals, and treating patients differently. Signs such as these may be difficult to excuse. Poor feedback may even come from colleagues and staff from other disciplines. They may have difficulty working in any capacity with your occupational therapist. Working with the goal of exceptional patient care should always remain number one. If an occupational therapist is unable to maintain that priority, it may be time to let that therapist go.

Time to fire: Lack of motivation for projects

Possibly your occupational therapist once caught your eye due to her constant involvement and zest for working on innovative tasks and projects. If they’ve gone from a high level of creativity and eagerness to doing the bare minimum, something bigger may be to blame. This is not to say that above-average creativity is a job requirement for an occupational therapist. However, a major shift from stellar motivation to not even completing job requirements warrants a closer look. It may even be a sign that you need to consider firing them.

Your occupational therapist may have seemingly no excuse for not participating in roles she is required to. They may even struggle with doing a suitable job with even small tasks. If there is no attempt to excuse these behaviors or request accommodations, it is time to let your occupational therapist go. It might be time to let them move on to the next chapter of their career.

Time to fire: Neglecting basic responsibilities

The very last straw for most employers is an occupational therapist who neglects many basic aspects of their job. This includes, but is not limited to, missing scheduled appointments with patients, completing documentation considerably late or sometimes not at all, skipping department meetings, breaching HIPAA, coming in to work late, frequent absences, and not responding to mandatory emails. These are all basic job requirements each occupational therapist must complete satisfactorily to continue to work in their role.

Occupational therapists who are no longer invested in their work may demonstrate these behaviors. Neglectfulness indirectly tells employers they do not care to continue their work at that facility. This is one of the major red flags telling an employer it is time to fire their occupational therapist.

Once you know it’s time to fire your OT

Firing any employee is never an easy thing to do, and most managers would say it is their least favorite part of their job. However, it is a responsibility which is key to maintaining a successful department and hire a great new employee for your practice. Some instances⁠—medical issues, family death, childcare, and other personal obligations—may cause even the best occupational therapist to be lacking. This does not always mean immediate grounds for dismissal, especially if your occupational therapist has come to you requesting employee assistance, accommodations, or schedule modifications to allow her to continue succeeding at her job.

Yet, it is likely a concern when your occupational therapist has not notified you of any extenuating circumstances. Even worse, your occupational therapist may be defensive and uncooperative in response to meetings attempting to discuss their performance changes. If they don't seem to be aware, or simply don't care, then it might be time to fire them and hire a new occupational therapist.

Patient care should be the utmost priority for all healthcare professionals and departments. It’s important to do your duty as a manager to ensure patients are receiving the care they deserve.lace their intentions first by speaking with your occupational therapist regarding these issues. If your occupational therapist does not demonstrate their commitment to superior patient care, it’s time to let them go.

About Brittany Ferri, OTR/L, CPRP

I'm a mental health OT, health writer, teletherapist, clinical consultant, and textbook author. I love plants and hiking. :) Reach out to me for mentorship or to learn more about non-clinical OT! Also, check out my website simplicityofhealth.com !