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Blog #13 - What traits should you look for in a graduate physiotherapist?

I have been a physiotherapist and private practitioner for 10 + years now and here are a few things I know about what makes a successful graduate in private practice;

1. Willingness to learn and take feedback. Over confidence will be the biggest barrier to learning. A graduate that is under confident is easier to mentor and grow then one that proceeds to know everything and can be taught nothing.

"If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no can stop you"

2. Patience to learn. Master the basics & do them well prior to proceeding to complex management/ treatments.

Most graduates are very keen to move ahead quickly in their career and learn complex techniques and management strategies, but remember all in good time. Pick a graduate that trusts that you as a mentor will steer them in the right direction at the right time. Being a graduate is the time to master the basics and improve complex reasoning by putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. You have a long career ahead.

3. A realisation that you will never have all the answers one does. Especially as a graduate you are not expected to know it all and you will have to ask for help.

4. Happiness is a critical trait for ALL physios regardless of their domain, but especially important in private practice. We are in a job where you leave your personal life at the door and click into job mode with a smile on your face and the patient's best interests and concerns at heart. No one wants to see a health care provider that is negative, complaining or whinging about life. Luckily most physiotherapists have a great outlook on life, it must be a personality trait of 'our kind'.

5. Customer service and business skills are the missing piece for most graduates ...develop them or seek a graduate that has a background in this area.

6. Likeability. The art of being a private practitioner & getting a patient to work with you, in my opinion is 90% of the battle ..treat the individual first as the most important component of the equation. No one wants to see a private practitioner that they don't like.

7. Organised & Timely. To survive in a private practice you must be a good time manager and be a forward thinker. A graduate that is early to an interview and organised/prepared is a great asset to your business. I once interviewed a graduate on a skype call and hired her on a number of factors but one of the reasons was she had an exceptional white board behind her with a well organised study schedule and I was super impressed.

All of these areas can be screened in an interview and should be picked up by you the business owner or another staff member sitting in on the interviews to give a second opinion on certain factors e.g. likeability, happiness. Notice clinical skills did not even make the list..... There is a reason for this. Personality trumps clinical skills. Clinical skills can be developed and trained, personality can not.

Last bit of advice, start hiring early in July/ August rather than at the end of the year if possible. This allows for the hire slow scenario to occur, otherwise it is a made rush at the end of the year with little choice of graduates left as the most keen and organised got in early to secure job roles. Also, when you hire mid year, it gives you the opportunity to bring that graduate into your business prior to them graduating to shadow your physios and learn the culture of the business and be introduced to prospective patients.

Free Resource: Free Interview Tips Audio Part 1 & 2. This audio will discuss potential questions you should be asking your graduates and a system for interviewing and hiring to get the most information to make a good hire in your business. Sign up below for access.

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