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Hiring a Physical Therapist: Job Description Template

By Sherice Jacob


How do you find the ideal physical therapist for your company? It’s not solely about their credentials; it’s essential they comprehend the unique demands of your work environment. Dive into our guide, emphasizing a detailed physical therapist job description, to ensure a tailored fit for your team’s needs.

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Responsibilities & Role of a Physical Therapist

A physical therapist is a trained and licensed professional dedicated to:

  • Improving and restoring mobility while alleviating pain.
  • Preventing or limiting physical disabilities in patients.
  • Designing personalized treatment plans based on thorough patient evaluations.
  • Utilizing techniques like exercises, hands-on therapy and specialized equipment to provide optimal physical function and overall well-being.

How to Hire a Physical Therapist

Before you hire a physical therapist, go beyond the job description and consider the following points:

1. Know Your Job Requirements

  • Determine Clinical Demand: Evaluate the current patient load, project future demands, and assess if there’s a need for specialty therapy services.
  • Assess Staffing Dynamics: Analyze the current staff’s capabilities and workload to identify gaps or areas of potential overextension.
  • Review Financial Capacity: Examine the business’s financial health and budget to determine salary, benefits, and training investment potential for the new hire.

2. Search for the Top Talent

Finding the best talent for a physical therapist role requires a comprehensive and proactive approach, emphasizing both clinical competence and interpersonal skills. 

  • Job Boards: Advertise on well-known job portals such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and specialized platforms like the American Physical Therapy Association’s career center. Craft a clear and compelling physical therapist job description that highlights key responsibilities, benefits, and growth opportunities.
  • Attend Events: Attending industry-related conferences, seminars, and events such as the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) annual conference or regional symposiums, offers a prime opportunity to recruit talented physical therapists.
  • Work with Colleges and Universities: Collaborative arrangements might include offering internships, hands-on training sessions, or even guest lectures, fostering a rapport between the organization and students early in their careers.
  • Create a Talent Pipeline: Offer internships to students as a talent pipeline, giving them real-world experience beyond academics. For employers, it’s a prolonged assessment of skills and fit, cutting onboarding time and reducing recruitment costs.
  • Work with Recruiters: Recruiters bring industry-specific expertise, understanding the nuances and requirements of the physical therapy field, enabling them to identify candidates who are not only technically competent but also a good fit for the organization’s culture. Their rigorous vetting processes ensure that only top-tier candidates are presented, saving organizations valuable time in the initial screening stages.

We provide a detailed breakdown of the general costs associated with these services further down in the article.

3. Look for Professional Qualifications

The specific qualifications you prioritize will hinge on the needs of your practice or facility. For a general clinic, a broad-based qualification like a DPT and licensure may suffice. However, if you’re catering to a niche audience, such as elderly patients or children, then specialized certifications like GCS or PCS become invaluable.

  • Licensure: Candidates must possess a valid state license to practice physical therapy in your respective region. This typically requires passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
  • Educational Background:  A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited institution ensures a comprehensive understanding of the field. Some candidates may have a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy (MPT), especially if they graduated before the DPT became standard.

Specialty Certifications:

Professional Memberships:

4. Analyze Their Work Experience

Start by examining their past roles and responsibilities in various settings, noting any overlap with your clinic’s primary focus. Pay attention to the duration of each position they held, as longevity can indicate stability and commitment.

Assess any specialized treatments or methodologies they’ve implemented in prior roles, ensuring they align with your facility’s needs.

Lastly, seek out any evidence of leadership roles or mentorship, as this can hint at their ability to take on senior positions or guide junior staff in the future.

5. Conduct a Comprehensive Interview Process

Begin the physical therapist interview by asking the right questions, with a focus on problem-solving abilities and clinical knowledge. Delve into their experiences with specific treatments or patient populations, aligning with your clinic’s needs.

Encourage open-ended discussions about their philosophy towards patient care to understand their approach. Lastly, simulate real-world scenarios or role-plays to witness their interpersonal skills and bedside manner in action.

6. Cross-Verify Their References and Conduct Background Verification

By speaking directly with previous employers or colleagues, you can gauge the candidate’s reliability, dedication, and performance in real-world settings. Moreover, a professional background verification can provide added assurance about the candidate’s credentials, ensuring that they hold the licenses they claim to and have no history of malpractice or disciplinary actions. For this, employers often turn to third-party agencies specializing in healthcare background checks, such as PreCheck or TrueScreen.

These are some questions you should consider asking:

  • Can you provide examples of how the candidate handled complex cases or challenging patient scenarios?
  • How would you describe the candidate’s interpersonal skills, particularly in terms of communicating with patients, their families, and colleagues?
  • How does the candidate handle feedback, and can you provide an example of when they took initiative to improve or learn a new skill?

Tips for Avoiding Red Flags During the Hiring Process

  • Inconsistent Work History: Examine the candidate’s resume for frequent job changes within short time spans. While some movement can be typical, rapid transitions might indicate issues with commitment or workplace compatibility.
  • Vague Explanations: Press for specific examples when discussing past roles and experiences. A candidate who is evasive or cannot provide concrete instances may lack genuine experience or be embellishing.
  • Lack of License or Certification: Ensure the candidate possesses a current, valid state license to practice physical therapy. Always verify their licensure and any specialty certifications with the issuing authorities.
  • Negative Remarks About Past Employers: Note any overly critical or negative comments about previous workplaces or colleagues. This might hint at potential interpersonal conflicts or professional disagreements.
  • Inadequate Hands-on Experience: Inquire about hands-on therapy sessions, especially if your clinic demands a certain level of hands-on treatment. If they emphasize too much on equipment-based treatments without a balance, it might not align with your clinic’s philosophy.
  • Unfamiliarity with Modern Techniques: Question them about current treatment methodologies, technologies, or research in the physical therapy world. Being out of touch with contemporary practices could limit the quality of care provided.
  • Overemphasis on Salary or Benefits: Beware if the candidate prioritizes compensation discussions above patient care or the clinic’s mission during the early stages of the interview. While compensation is essential, patient care should be a core motivation.

A new hire's first day checklist

Physical Therapist Job Description

Download Template

Job Title: Physical Therapist

Company: [Your Company Name]

Location: [Location]

Job Type: [Full Time / Part Time / Contract]

Salary: [Salary / Competitive / DOE]

About Us:

[Provide a brief description of your company, its history, values, sustainability and work environment.]

The Opportunity: 

Our esteemed Health and Wellness Clinic, located in the heart of the city, is in search of a passionate and dedicated Physical Therapist to join our multidisciplinary team. With a patient-first approach, our clinic has been serving the community for over a decade, helping individuals regain mobility and achieve optimal physical health. 

The ideal candidate will have a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, a valid state license, and a genuine desire to make a difference in patients’ lives. We prioritize a hands-on approach, staying updated with the latest research, and fostering a collaborative environment. As part of our team, you will have the opportunity to work alongside experienced healthcare professionals, benefit from continuous learning initiatives, and contribute to individualized care plans that change lives. 

If you’re driven by the opportunity to truly impact your patients and grow professionally, we’d love to hear from you. Join us in making a tangible difference, one patient at a time.

What You’ll Do:

  • Conduct comprehensive patient evaluations to understand their physical challenges and goals.
  • Design and implement individualized treatment plans based on assessments and clinical expertise.
  • Utilize a mix of therapeutic exercises, manual therapy techniques, and cutting-edge equipment to deliver effective treatments.
  • Collaborate closely with a team of healthcare professionals to ensure holistic patient care.
  • Monitor and document patients’ progress, adjusting treatments as necessary for optimal results.
  • Engage in continuous education initiatives, staying updated with the latest in physical therapy research and techniques.
  • Educate patients and their families on at-home care routines, ensuring safety and continuity in recovery.
  • Participate in weekly team meetings, contributing insights and updates on patient cases.
  • Maintain a clean and organized therapy environment, ensuring equipment is in top condition.
  • Provide mentorship to junior staff or interns, fostering a culture of growth and learning.

What You’ll Bring:

  • A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited institution.
  • Valid state license to practice physical therapy.
  • Minimum of two years of clinical experience in a relevant setting.
  • Proficiency in using physical therapy equipment and software.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills, both written and verbal.
  • Current CPR or BLS certification.
  • Demonstrated commitment to ongoing professional development.
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a multidisciplinary team.
  • Knowledge of current best practices and evidence-based treatments in physical therapy.
  • Flexibility in scheduling, including potential weekend or evening shifts.
  • A positive patient-centric attitude and a genuine passion for promoting health and well-being.

Our Ideal Candidate is Someone Who Has:

  • Master’s or Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy from an accredited program, ensuring a solid foundation in theoretical and practical aspects of the field.
  • Active membership in professional organizations like the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), which reflects a commitment to industry standards and professional growth.
  • Advanced certifications in specialties such as Orthopedics, Neurology, or Geriatrics, which showcase expertise in particular areas of physical therapy.
  • Proven track record of success with patient outcomes, preferably backed by data or testimonials.
  • Proficient in using electronic health records (EHR) systems and digital tools to track patient progress and collaborate with other healthcare providers.
  • Demonstrated experience in mentoring or training junior therapists or interns, reflecting leadership qualities and a commitment to fostering growth in others.
  • Skilled in a variety of treatment techniques, such as manual therapy, aquatic therapy, or myofascial release, which allows for versatile treatment plans tailored to individual patient needs.
  • Published research, articles, or participation in clinical studies, indicating a contribution to the advancement of the field.
  • Evidence of continuous learning, like recent coursework or workshops attended, highlighting dedication to staying updated in a rapidly evolving profession.
  • Strong case management abilities, showcasing organizational skills and an in-depth understanding of coordinating care for complex patients.
  • Exceptional communication skills, not just for patient interactions, but also for collaboration with other healthcare professionals, ensuring a holistic approach to patient care.

Benefits and Perks:

  • Competitive salary.
  • Comprehensive health, dental, and vision insurance.
  • Generous PTO and holiday schedule.
  • 401(k) with company match.
  • Life and disability insurance.
  • A culture that prioritizes work-life balance.
  • Employee wellness programs.
  • Access to professional associations, conferences, and subscriptions.

How to Join Us:

Please send your resume, a cover letter detailing your qualifications, and any other supporting documents to [email address] with the subject line “Application for Physical Therapist Position – [Your Name].

[Your Company Name] champions equal employment opportunities for everyone. We ensure that every qualified candidate is considered for employment without bias related to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran status, or disability. 

Closing Date: [Insert closing date for applications]

Please note only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Thank you for your interest in [Your Company Name].

Note: It’s important to tailor this template to your company’s specific needs and the specific role you are looking to fill. This template assumes a fairly broad role, but you may need to modify it if the role is specialized.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Physical Therapist?

Recruitment Costs

Typically, costs include advertising the position on professional job boards, which can range from $100 to $500 per month depending on the platform. If using a recruitment agency, fees can be anywhere from 15% to 30% of the candidate’s first-year salary. Background checks and licensing verifications can add another $50 to $150 per candidate.

Salary and Benefits

The median annual wage for physical therapists is $98,101 according to Urban areas or specialized hospitals often offer higher salaries, which might range from $100,000 to $120,000 or more for experienced therapists.

In addition to the base salary, employers often provide benefits such as health, dental, and vision insurance, which can add an additional 20-30% to the overall compensation cost. Retirement contributions, whether in the form of a 401(k) match or a pension fund, can further increase costs by another 3-10%.

Training and Onboarding

First, there are direct costs like materials for training sessions, software or platform fees for e-learning modules, and any specialized equipment or tools they need to familiarize themselves with. Then, there’s the time investment of existing staff members who mentor, guide, and evaluate the new hire, which translates to indirect costs as these mentors temporarily divert their attention from their primary responsibilities.

Onboarding may also include formal coursework or certifications in specific therapeutic techniques not covered in their formal education, incurring additional costs. There’s also the administrative overhead, including HR and management time spent in orientation and initial evaluations.

Equipment and Software

On the software side, physical therapy practices often utilize specialized Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems tailored to their needs. These systems allow therapists to document treatment sessions, track patient progress, and bill insurance providers.

The cost of such software can range from $1,000 to $10,000 annually, depending on its complexity and features. Some practices might also invest in telehealth platforms, especially post-pandemic, to offer remote consultations, which can add an additional $500 to $2,000 annually.

On the equipment front, expenses can vary widely based on the services offered. Basic therapeutic tools like resistance bands, exercise balls, and manual treatment tables might run from $500 to $2,000 each.

Professional Development

First and foremost, there’s the cost of continuing education. Many states and jurisdictions require physical therapists to complete a certain number of continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain licensure. These courses can vary greatly in price, from as low as $50 for an online seminar to upwards of $1,000 for multi-day, in-person workshops or advanced courses.

Sherice Jacob

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