What is your process for hiring clinicians for your group practice? If this is your first time going through the process of hiring a clinician, you may be wondering what to look for, what to ask, what to expect from your future clinicians and what they should expect from you. If this is not your first rodeo, you may have had some great hiring experiences that taught you what to look for, and some of you may have had not-so-great experiences with bad fitting clinicians that have left you with a bad taste in your mouth on hiring new clinicians.
Hiring clinicians isn’t something we are taught to do. And it takes time to find “your way” of authentically interviewing and choosing your staff. With that said, there are some things that you can prepare for when interviewing and hiring your clinicians.
1. What expectations do you have for your clinicians? This is something to think about BEFORE you start hiring clinicians.
*I require a minimum of two days per week of work, so that clients/clinician have the ability to reschedule if one or the other can’t make their regularly scheduled appointment. I find it only fair that a client has the ability to reschedule and not have to wait two weeks between an appointment. I also have a 4 hour minimum per day requirement. Having someone work from 5-8pm takes an office room up when another clinician could see clients during “prime times” from 3 or 4pm-8pm. A good rule of thumb, at least at night, is to have the office fully used from 4pm on.
* They must be proactive in marketing themselves. I again find it fair that each clinician I hire is willing to go out there and learn how to find their ideal clients. My group practice has the ability to give clinicians new clients, but I want clinicians to work at finding their clients as well.
*They must be timely with documentation, have a good understanding of what to do in crisis situations, and have a good understanding of HIPAA. Also, their expectation of supervision or case consultation should be noted.
2. What policies and procedures do you have in your group practice? I have heard all too often of practice owners who leave an interview without going through their group practice’s office procedures, only to find out that once they hire the clinician, they are met with resistance on the new expectations set.
* What are your rates, how do you compensate, if you accept insurance, what are your expectations for paneling with insurances, etc.
*Do you have time off expectations?
3. Think about what your group practice needs. Does it need more child/adolescent therapists? A drug and alcohol counselor? Be choosy, don’t accept the first person who applies because you are afraid someone better may not come along (only accept the first person if you feel they are a good fit and you feel good about it!). My practice now only hires clinicians that are 5 years post LCPC or LCSW license, with previous private practice experience. I have noticed that clinicians who are new to private practice have a sort of “culture shock” as they feel isolated or alone a lot, where the freedom and independence can feel lonely. A lot of the clinicians I hired had previously worked in non-profit where they worked side by side with other counselors or social workers, and no amount of explaining at interviews seems to soften that idea.
4. Think about personality. I love Sally Hogshead’s books, in which she talks about personality styles that when put together make a great company. Many of the group practice owners who I have talked to who have had a bad fitting clinician spoke more about personality fit issues more than anything else. Either that the clinician didn’t listen to office procedures and expectations, or that the clinician brought staff morale down with negative attitude. One thing to consider is that we like people who are most like us in terms of personality, but we don’t want replicas of us as our clinicians (that would be boring!). But we also don’t want someone who’s personality will clash with ours. A good rule of thumb is to look at what your group needs in a clinician and focus on finding a clinician that fits that idea.
5. Have an employee manual that outlines your expectations, policies, and procedures so that they have something to look at before asking you questions. Mine also has a credentialing packet that explains how to panel with the insurances we accept and explains how to use our EHR system.
With all this in mind, the most important thing to look at is how you are feeling when you interview a clinician. It can be easy to be swept away by having someone interested in working at your group practice that you hire them more because they were interested than because it is what you need or want. Interviewing and choosing a clinician for your group practice is a process that you will feel more comfortable with in time and through experience. Good luck!
Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here: LEARN MORE HERE