What Clinic Owners are Looking for When Hiring New DPT Grads

I interviewed four different clinic owners from around the country and asked them what qualities they are searching for in new hires, especially of the newly graduated variety. The clinics are different from one another and the owners have different visions for their clinic, yet their responses to my questions were very similar in what qualities they look for in a newly graduated DPT student. And guess what? None of them said you need a 4.0 GPA. Below are the 4 themes I noticed while chatting with each clinic owner.

A HUGE ‘Thank you’ to Jerry Durham of San Franciso Sport and Spine PT, Ann Wendel of Prana PT in Alexandria, VA, Judy Burlingame of Burlingame Physiotherapy in Greenwood Village, CO, and Stephen and Shannon Albanese of Access Physical Therapy with locations in New York and Pennsylvania.

4. Know the mission and vision of the clinic you are interviewing with

It is important that you understand the vision and mission of the clinic you are interviewing with. Ann Wendel and Shannon Albanese stressed the importance of the new graduate being a good fit for the clinic. This means that you share the same passions, understand and agree with the vision of the clinic and can be a part of that team. It is our responsibility as students to recognize a clinic or position that would be a good fit for us. Judy Burlingame made the point that new grads should look for clinics or positions in which they can continue to grow, learn and be mentored. If a clinic does not have a formal mentor program in place- ask! If a clinic is not wiling to give you the time to help you continue to grow, perhaps it is not the correct fit for you.

3. Be yourself and build your personal brand

Building your personal brand does not necessarily mean marketing yourself on social media if that’s not your thing (although it really can’t hurt! In fact- the clinic owners who are on social media love to see student involvement!). Jerry Durham is passionate about having a personal brand and he wants to see students that have one as well. So you may be scratching your head saying “huh?”. A personal brand is who you are- what makes you tick, what draws people to you, your past experiences, what drives you. Write it down. Knowing your personal brand and what you stand for will also help you with knowing if a clinic or position is a good fit for you. Still confused on what a personal brand is? Google Sasha Strauss and watch a few of his videos. Here is one to get you started. The guys really knows his stuff about branding!

2. Be confident, yet humble- you have something to offer!

Many times new grads may feel that may not have enough to offer a clinic. Not true! We are the future of the profession and many clinics want to take a chance on us. However, be humble- we still have a lot to learn. All four clinicians mentioned they look for life long learners. Just because you have those fancy three letters after your name does not mean you know it all. Shannon Albanese of Access Physical Therapy said that she wants to hear short term and long term goals of new grads. She wants to work with new grads and help shape them into strong PTs. Go into those interviews with your head held high, your personal brand ready to roll (see number 3!), know your short and long term goals and understand that you still have a ton to learn!

1. Get Involved outside of the classroom! Seriously.

I don’t think getting involved outside of the classroom can be stressed enough! Clinic owners want to know you are a well rounded individual who is capable of multi tasking. Find a leadership position or extra curricular that speaks to you and go for it. You don’t need to be president of something to have an impact. Perhaps you are more of a “silent leader” type and that is fine, just find something that works for you and that you can bring  your passion to.

Understand what is happening in the PT world outside of the walls of your classroom. Read articles that aren’t required for class. I may be biased, but Twitter is an amazing place for this- there are so many wonderful therapists to look up to and they often post articles or start conversations and welcome student input. (Insert shameless plug for the Wednesday night #DPTstudent chat at 9pm EST here).

It is never too early to get involved. In fact, Jerry Durham said he wants a student that was involved from the beginning- even before PT school such as your experiences that lead you to pursue PT! Getting involved also allows you to build your own personal network of like-minded individuals that you can learn from as you grow as a student and as a therapist.

I hope this helped the DPT students out there see what clinic owners are looking for when hiring new grads. Be yourself, show your passion, and for goodness sakes, get involved in whatever way works for you outside of the classroom!