What To Do When A Therapist Leaves Your Practice

Dec 22 | , , , , , , , ,


For small clinic owners and therapy providers, the parting of a therapist from your practice will likely raise some professional challenges and questions. In most situations, odds are that your employee is simply taking on a new career challenge, opting to retire or looking for a change of scene, but this leaves your practice with a hole to fill. However, while a therapist leaving may mean temporarily having to redistribute his or her workload, it certainly doesn’t have to be a negative experience. When this occurs, clinic owners have an opportunity to take a genuine look at their business and focus on bettering their practice. Here are some things to consider when a therapist leaves your clinic:

Why did this person leave?
Becker’s Healthcare recommends always finding time to perform an exit interview when an employee decides to leave. While the source is specifically talking about surgeons, this advice essentially applies to any business. An exit interview provides an opportunity to have an open and honest conversation with the therapist in your practice so you can find out why he or she is leaving and make positive changes in your clinic. In some cases, it may simply be out of your hands, such as an employee moving across the country for a spouse, but other times it may have to do with the job. Did the employee struggle to mesh with the work culture, find better compensation elsewhere or have trouble keeping up with the workload? Rather than get frustrated by these potential issues, make note of them, and consider what can be done in the future to retain your clinicians.

Reassign responsibilities
Until you’ve found a full-time replacement, your staff will have to pick up the extra workload. Take the time to meet with your staff in a group and individually to discuss readjusted work assignments and any potential changes in scheduling. What’s more, get your staff involved in finding a replacement. Find out what skills and qualifications they believe a new therapist will need to be successful in your practice. Your staff can also be helpful in providing feedback as you seek out a new therapist.

Create an updated job description
To replace a therapist in your practice, it’s important to understand his or her exact role in your clinic. Outside of providing therapy, did this employee take on any administrative functions, perform marketing tasks or do any other specialized work? According to Entrepreneur, a publication dedicated to serving small businesses, you must ask three questions when an employee leaves:

  1. On a day-to-day basis, what tasks and obligations does this employee currently cover?
  2. How does this employee interact with other staff members and clients, and what are the outcomes?
  3. What responsibilities does this employee have daily? Weekly? Monthly? Annually?

Coming up with comprehensive answers to these questions will allow you to create an updated job description to post when seeking out a replacement. Making sure that the job description is current and accurate will help you find a candidate that can enter the role with confidence. Use this process as another opportunity to involve your staff, as they may be able to come up with job qualifications or responsibilities you might have overlooked. Furthermore, involve your staff in the interview process to make sure that applicants mesh well with the company culture. Even if your clinic is only a handful of therapists, including everyone will ensure that you hire a good fit.

Think about it as a business owner
As a clinic owner, you might find nothing more rewarding than working with patients. However, when an employee leaves, it’s important to approach it with a business owner’s mindset. Outside of conducting an exit interview, take some time to really sit down and think about your business model and what opportunities it provides for your employees. According to Forbes, one reason employees may move on is due to lack of support or feeling there’s no room for growth. In small clinics, there may be limited room for direct promotions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with finding methods for fostering growth in your staff. For example, if one of your therapists seems particularly good at interacting with patients via social media, perhaps consult them about taking on social media marketing responsibilities for the entire clinic. Overall, if employees grow stagnant in their jobs, they’re more likely to seek opportunities elsewhere.

What’s next?
As stated earlier, an employee moving on provides a good opportunity to step back and look at your business holistically. Has the loss of this person provided you an opportunity to restructure your staff entirely? Do you already have employees who are interested in taking on some more responsibility? Fluctuations in staff are simply an inevitable part of owning a business, and once you’ve made a smooth transition, then you can start thinking about moving forward again.


This article is brought to you by PREFERRED Therapy Providers Inc. PREFERRED is the nation’s leading payor management services network. Our expertise is working with physical, occupational and speech therapy practices – from single clinics to multiple clinic locations.