|  9 min read

Turning Pro: How to graduate from student physiotherapist to the ‘Real-World Expert’ with flying colors!

Turning Pro: How to Graduate from Student Physiotherapist to Expert. This guest blog by Ben Lynch from Clinical Mastery will show you how!

From student physiotherapist to expert

Launching Your Career!

So you are (or soon to be) a new grad physio, and you want to make a great first impression. We’ve all been there before, we remember what it is like to be nervous about performing well and impressing your new boss and workplace. We understand your nerves and apprehension, and this article has been written with you in mind. As a health professional myself, and as part of Clinic Mastery, we work exclusively with private practice owners who regularly employ new graduate physiotherapists and advise them on how to best nurture their team. With some insights from other health professionals and clinic owners, the following tips will position you to excel in your new role!

What Employers Will Expect From You

Let’s be clear. Private Practices are small businesses.

That means the practice gets paid for seeing and serving clients. If you aren’t seeing enough clients, it puts a financial strain on the small business.
That makes it harder for them to pay you, the admin, cover the cost of other expenses, and have money to invest in new equipment to help clients, update your training, to market and attract more clients, etc.

In the public sector, there are big budgets and volumes of money so the number of clients you need to see tends to be less and the appointment times tend to be much longer…
That’s not to say the primary focus is on making money… It just means that in private practice we need to be efficient and effective in how we help people get better.

Jack O’Brien from Terrace Physio Plus says “Clients are paying for your services. You are no longer a student voluntarily helping people out of obligation – you are of huge value to your clients. Value yourself!

Make note of this: The primary objective of a private practice owner is that you will Fill Your Appointment Books and Deliver Great Outcomes to those Clients.

The primary objective of a private practice owner is that you will Fill Your Appointment Books and Deliver Great Outcomes to those Clients

How to Accelerate Your Physiotherapy Career

As a break down here are the elements involved and what you can do to succeed.

Deliver consecutive appointments on time, every time.

How to address:

You must be deliberate about the Structure of your Appointment. Think of it like a bell curve, you must ease into the treatment with rapport-building conversation first, then you must help the client with therapy and then ease toward completion and closure without rushing the patient. To help, make some key dot points about what you say and do during your consultation so that you deliver consistent, high-quality messages to your clients every time. P.S. You don’t have to do everything in one consult! You’ll actually confuse the patient if you do that.

Attract New Clients into Your Appointment Book

How to address:

Ask your current clients for a referral. For those clients that you help and make a positive difference for, you should ask them if they know someone who has a similar problem to them (people love to talk in groups about their problems) and who might benefit from your help. Ask them to refer the person who has mentioned their problem in discussions. The key to asking is to ask specifically e.g. “Do you know someone who is also having trouble with their knee or trouble playing tennis because of their knee etc”. It helps the clients recall with greater ease.
(Comment Physiotutors: Consider registering as a therapist at yourphysio.online or with your practice at pages like hierhebikpijn.nl or physiocheck.co.uk who will forward clients to your practice):

Meet referral partners and create relationships. Jack O’Brien from Terrace Physio Plus says “Use non-clinical time effectively! Employers hate to see wasted time. Invest that time in nurturing relationships with referrers and clients”. Networking is playing the long game. Don’t expect quick wins, because like any relationship, if you are selfish in trying to immediately ‘get something’ like more clients into your diary, you will not succeed. Go and meet the local referrers that already exist at your clinic and find out why they refer to your clinic and how you can help them by adding value. (see this article for more on adding value). The best thing to do is ask to observe them for a couple of hours in the clinic to see how they work so that you can refer more clients to them and also build a relationship built on the personal connection during that time.

Use non-clinical time effectively! Employers hate to see wasted time. Invest that time in nurturing relationships with referrers and clients

Fill Your Appointment Books with Clients who know you

How to address:

Deliver management plans for client nurturing and rebooking. Clients come to you because you are the expert, no matter how much ‘experience’ you have, you are their trusted advisor. They expect the best recommendation. Jack O’Brien from Terrace Physio Plus says “Generally, new professionals are guilty of under-servicing, not over-servicing”. So, make sure you have a detailed plan about the appointments required and exercises to be done in the following 6-8 weeks. Be specific! This will help clients follow through on the plan and get the best outcome. Best to have a verbal and one-page written plan to give to every client at the end of their appointment (See this video series about how we do it in under 2 minutes). Michael Rizk from Imove Physiotherapy says “The subsequent follow-up appointments allow: You to check with your team and mentors about the condition. You can implement one key focus each time for better compliance. You will reduce appointment cancellations

It doesn’t really matter so much about how technically proficient you are – clients need to know, like and trust you before your treatments will work. They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care!

Create great outcomes for clients with great communication and rapport building. We know that when clients understand their problem and their body, it helps the healing process. It also helps them understand why you have made the recommendations you have, meaning they are more likely to comply with the plan moving forward. Jack O’Brien from Terrace Physio Plus says “It doesn’t really matter so much about how technically proficient you are – clients need to know, like, and trust you before your treatments will work. They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!”. Be clear with what you say and keep it really simple and easy to follow through for the client. Don’t try to do everything in one day, one consult, or one week…That’s why you need a step-by-step plan for them to follow. Michael Rizk from Imove Physiotherapy says “This gives GREAT client engagement, creates GREAT compliance, ADDs real value, and also keeps the client enrolled and returning, they don’t fall through the cracks”.

Offer & Use the Best Products, Services, and Self-Help Methods

How to address:

Offer your best recommendation of Products & Services & Self-Help, every time. It is your fiduciary obligation to be the trusted advisor for every client…treat them as if they were your family. Jack O’Brien from Terrace Physio Plus says “It is not your job to judge whether a client can afford it or not… recommend best practice care first, and let patients decide if it is a priority to invest in that. Don’t judge their looks, health insurance (or lack of), etc” You can always tailor your recommendation to their ‘logistics’, but only once you have advised on the best (guided by assessment and ethical intervention) recommendation plan.

Create Content to become an Authority. Use your ongoing professional development training to help you write and record content that could also serve as helpful educational pieces for clients in their care. This can be used for marketing purposes to attract clients, or as client resources to help them take care of themselves. Use the training that you have to do anyway to write blogs, record videos or produce handouts.  

Michael Rizk from Imove Physiotherapy says “It can be as easy whipping out your phone when you are reading a journal, a Facebook post or talking to another practitioner about a tough case… document don’t create as Gary Vaynerchuk would say”.

How To Find & Get Help From Mentors

Get Guidance from a Senior Practitioner

How to address: Get a mentor to meet with regularly to ask professional and career questions. A great mentor of mine once said, it’s not about the ‘Years of Experience’, rather it’s about ‘Experience in those Years’. The best way to handle that is to get a mentor who can distill their wisdom and experience to you. The best way to get a mentor is to email or call someone who is an authority, an expert, or a leader in an area of your interest. Offer to either, buy them a nice lunch, take them out for coffee or observe them in practice for a couple of hours to start the relationship and highlight your hunger to learn and also be a source of value to them e.g could produce some content for them or facilitate some in house training or if you have other professionals, sports clubs or businesses, etc you could connect them with, it will help them. Everyone’s always thinking about what’s in it for me. So you should think about how you could add value, it may just be to buy them lunch, but we suggest you get creative.

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Get Guidance from Peers

How to address: Join online groups and discussion forums to ask questions. Some of the best lead generation sources to find a mentor or support networks are online. Facebook is a breeding ground for active, engaged, and sharing professionals. Join a local physio group on Facebook and engage with content and users. That will surely lead to a connection and meet-ups.

Final Thoughts For You

This is an exciting time in your career! The most successful transition into the ‘Real-World’ comes from deliberate, intentional, and purposeful actions.
Don’t expect that you will gain new perspectives, experiences, and insights… You must seek them out!

The best practitioners and clinic owners rely on a systematic approach that allows high-quality health care to be delivered every time. So, you need to create a systematic approach that allows you to add your character and personal touch on top. To find out how to create ‘Your Approach’ seek the perspectives of others, find great mentors, immerse yourself amongst support groups and peers, and most of all are deliberate about how you deliver your health and care!

Don’t let this be another article you read, systematically apply each ‘How To’ and realize the growth you are capable of. For more support please connect with our support group on Facebook called Health Professionals in Business.

Until next time, continue to Consult with Passion and Serve with Care!

– Ben Director of Clinic Mastery

I realised after a number of years practicing Podiatry that I became more interested in the person at the end of the foot, than the foot itself. I’ve had a passion for understanding what makes people enjoy a better quality of life and that has inspired my drive to be creative and systematic about the communication and connection with clients as part of their experience.
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