As the hiring manager, should you hire a new graduate or go with an experienced therapist? The answer depends on the size of facility and department, current staff and unique needs of the patient population. Many decisions go into hiring staff. The question to hire a new grad over an experience therapist comes down to these questions:
What position are to trying to fill? Are you hiring for a long-term placement or a short-term leave? What is the philosophy of the clinic versus the philosophy of the therapist?
A new Doctor of Physical Therapy graduate is prepared to evaluate and treat patients in many clinical settings. They have been educated in all systems to include musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiovascular pulmonary, integumentary, GI and GU. They are taught the continuum of care throughout their patients’ lifespans and have the necessary skills to provide care for the general patient population.
The new graduate makes sense when you have senior staff to mentor and train, ideal for “molding” them to your specific facility’s clinical philosophy and culture on the long-term. New graduate physical therapists are enthusiastic about stating their first position, bring fresh ideas and are eager to learn and grow. New graduates are open to feedback and welcome mentoring, making them ideal candidates to shape and set them up for a successful career in this field.
On the flip side, if you are looking to cover a short-team leave, replace a clinician with a particular skill set, and/or work in a small facility or manage a smaller staff that does not have the time or ability to mentor and train, it is better to hire a clinician that meets the skill set you are in need of: a “plug and play” candidate.
It’s All About the Fit
Will this candidate be compatible with the staff and patient population? What types of clinical experiences have they have had? If the therapist is a new graduate or only has a few years’ experience, consider the types of clinical affiliations, co-operative experiences and/or work study jobs, as well as “PT Aide” positions. These types of experiences provide the candidate with perspective for the patient population and demands of the job.
For any position, preference should be given to those that have had exposure and experience in the clinical setting that you are hiring for. For example, if hiring for an acute care setting, seek a candidate with exposure in a trauma or stroke facility and have an understanding of what goes on inside a hospital. If you are recruiting for an outpatient orthopedic facility, consider the candidate with manual therapy skills or advanced training. In general, physical therapists are lifelong learners: any candidates open to mentoring and training can be molded into the clinician you are looking for.