In 15 years of private practice in a rural area, I have never had an experienced physiotherapist move to town for a position. Instead, we have spent 15 years training, mentoring and developing graduates for private practice. Our system is the Physiomentor program.
As we know, experienced clinicians are hard to find in the current workforce market and, for many of us who have businesses in rural and remote locations, attracting experienced clinicians into our communities and private practices is an ongoing challenge.
Hence the available workforce we have tapped into over 15 years has been graduate physiotherapists. They are keen for the rural adventure, and willing to learn and be moulded to the ways of your practice delivery in rural locations. Many hire a graduate into their business with the best of intentions, only to have the daily chaos of running a business take over. Training the graduate becomes an afterthought and, at best, in-service training every month. The graduate may leave the practice as they did not feel they were learning or growing as a clinician; the business owner is frustrated if the graduate is not performing as expected or leaves the role prior to 12 months.
Graduates are the available workforce of the future but, of late, graduate recruitment has also been a struggle. At last glance, there were over 6,500 physiotherapy positions advertised on Seek – so you need to stand out to attract a graduate. Learning, growing and developing in their career as a graduate is a huge driver. So, having a structured graduate program in your clinic will become a drawcard in your recruitment strategy to futureproof your business.
Over many years, our Physiomentor program has been our attraction tool to recruit, train and retain graduates in our private practices. It required a large time investment and financial outlay in the early years to develop, perfect and test the system. But, without it, I am not sure we would have survived the demands of our community and I am sure I would have been a sole clinician in my business again.
Business is booming in health care and, in rural areas, the work is ongoing and growing. We can barely keep up with demand. In business we need to have an available market and an available workforce to meet demand. Available market is not a problem for most of us, but available workforce is in crisis and, to recruit as a sole clinician and then find time to train a graduate in private practice, can be extremely stressful financially.
Systems of training have enabled us to upskill graduates to a consistently high standard , without having to reinvent the wheel each time with every graduate. We know graduates present to us after university training with some gaps in their knowledge and non-clinical approaches in private practice. These are common themes across all graduates, despite their university training facility.
The Physiomentor resources and programs are specifically designed to plug the gaps for private practice to ensure graduates are ready, confident and capable to succeed in a business model of care. Training programs should focus on communication, streamlining assessments, and clinical and business skills to upskill quickly for private practice.
If you are a graduate, student or private practice owner seeking help in this space, please reach out to us at [email protected]