Summer is approaching and, with family vacations competing for patients’ time, you might find yourself with quite a few cancellations and schedule gaps.

Your first inclination may be to send your PTs home without pay. “Flexing,” as it is sometimes called, is becoming an increasingly common cost-cutting move. But, tempting as it may be to flex your PTs when things get slow, there’s a better way to use their non-billable time. Not only is being flexed insulting—your therapists have surely stayed late (unpaid) to complete documentation on busy days—but it also robs your team of growth opportunities. Plus, you could be missing out on a valuable chance to leverage your therapists’ non-clinical skills in ways that can dramatically improve your practice.

Here are four creative ways to make use of your therapists’ downtime, while simultaneously improving your clinic.

The PTs Guide to Starting a Private Practice - Regular BannerThe PTs Guide to Starting a Private Practice - Small Banner

1. Blogging

Some of your therapists are probably pretty talented writers, and they might be eager to share their wisdom on your clinic’s blog. Blogging is important for several reasons:

  • Publishing regularly keeps your website content fresh, which helps with search engine optimization (SEO). This means that Google will place your website higher on its search results pages than it will if you never put out fresh content.
  • Custom content puts a face to your therapy team and clinic. A sterile, static webpage with no personality does nothing to attract patients.
  • An active blog shows that your team is knowledgeable and articulate. After all, if a local podiatrist reads your article about ankle drills, she will be more likely to refer patients your clinic versus one that doesn’t publish material on relevant topics.
  • Custom content makes patients feel safe in your care. If you maintain an active blog with plenty of thoughtful articles by your own team members, patients will feel confident that they’re going to to see the experts.
  • Blogging is a fun way to brag! Do you have a stack of positive patient reviews? Write up a blog post highlighting the best ones!

Even if your therapists aren’t natural writers, you can have them create outlines or drafts of articles and then pay a freelance editor to give ’em a quick spruce-up before they go live.

Why It’s Effective

Blogging gives your therapists a chance to flex their creative muscles. It also lets them gain some bylines and recognition for their skills—and attach their names to your clinic with a sense of pride.

The Challenge

If you don’t give therapists enough time to finish blog posts, require lengthy approval processes, or never publish the articles, you could end up making your therapists feel resentful. If you launch a blogging program, make sure you designate someone to own the editorial calendar as well as the editing and publishing process.

2. Program Development

How many times have you looked at your talented team of therapists and thought to yourself, “We should really teach a course on women’s health (or manual therapy, or neuro rehab)?” Maybe you’ve been dying to open your doors to the community, but you haven’t found a way to make it happen.

Chances are, at least one of your therapists has a strong project-management side to his or her personality. And that therapist would probably be eager to put together a program—with the proper time and support, that is.

Why It’s Effective

It’s a win-win situation. Your therapist gets a break from the daily grind and a chance to enhance her skills. Plus, program development is a valuable resume-booster (should she ever wish to move into a non-clinical career like physical therapy education or leadership).

The Challenge

Effective program development requires ongoing work, which may mean several hours of intensive concentration at a time. Trying to hop back and forth from providing patient care to getting “in the zone” of planning (or networking, creating flyers, etc.) can feel frustrating. So, try to schedule your therapists’ time in 2-3 hour blocks whenever possible. That way, if your office manager notices two cancellations an hour apart on your therapist’s schedule, he can try to move the middle appointment to create a longer block of time for your therapist to sit down and concentrate. This is also helpful when your employee needs to do outreach or coordinate with outside parties to make events or courses a reality. If the therapist is always seeing patients during call-back times, she might end up feeling more frustrated than ever.

3. Culture Committee

One of millennials’ biggest desires in a job is that intangible spirit of camaraderie. They want to feel like they’re working with family and friends. What better way to make your team feel appreciated than by having an actual culture committee devoted to making sure that employee anniversaries, birthdays, milestones, and achievements are celebrated?

In an era of declining reimbursements, productivity pushes, obsessive focus on patient satisfaction, and professional turf wars, it can be easy to forget that PT should be fun. Physical therapists should enjoy going to work every day, and if they have to work on their birthdays, then they should at least have a cake and some fanfare.

Have your most social and bubbly therapist create a culture committee, and whenever he has some downtime between patients, he can focus his efforts on using an allotted budget to plan fun events for Earth Day—or maybe even National Grilled Cheese Day—as well as come up with creative ways to celebrate and acknowledge therapists when they earn certifications. He can even focus on things like clinic decor and monthly quotes. Get creative!

Why It’s Effective

Culture is key to retaining employees. You want to make your workplace somewhere people—therapists and patients alike—enjoy being. Allowing an outgoing therapist to own this will help him create a sense of camaraderie that will keep your best therapists committed to the team, even during tough times.

The Challenge

As it always goes, things will slow down and speed up. If you know that December is always slow, but January is super busy, you’ll need to block out some time in January to keep the culture committee’s presence consistent and authentic. You don’t want the staff members with February birthdays to feel like they don’t matter, simply because the culture committee got too busy with patients to plan out a fun event.

4. Marketing

While some therapists might consider it passé, good old-fashioned physician marketing is still a reliable way to get patients in the door. And patients in the door is what every clinic needs to keep the doors open. Some therapists are outgoing, confident, and eager to network, so why not fill those therapists’ flex hours with marketing opportunities, like giving presentations at MD clinics and running booths at races and fundraisers?

But, it’s not just physician marketing that your clinic needs to thrive these days! Don’t forget about social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, and other patient-facing efforts to drive business to your clinic.

Why It’s Effective

You can leverage your therapists’ inherent talents by having them market in ways that feel natural to them. One PT might do well with physician marketing, while another might be a Facebook or Instagram maven. By using your therapists’ skills in ways that help the clinic, you can grow them (and their resumes) while you grow your business.

The Challenge

It’s never wise to leave all marketing activities for downtime. Otherwise, you could end up with a social media account that goes six months without an update, and race booths or MD presentations that are half-baked because nobody owns them. Also, be sure to give flex time for any additional weekend hours your employees dedicate to community events. (For more great marketing tips, be sure to download our free marketing e-book.)


When things slow down at the clinic, flexing doesn’t have to be your automatic response. If you get creative with your team and let your therapists use their existing non-clinical talents and skills, you can keep them happy and paid—and improve your business at the same time!

Meredith Castin, PT, DPT, is the founder of The Non-Clinical PT, a career development resource designed to help physical, occupational, and speech therapy professionals leverage their degrees in non-clinical ways.

  • The State of Rehab Therapy in 2018 Image

    downloadJun 28, 2018

    The State of Rehab Therapy in 2018

    To see results from our most recent industry survey, check out the 2019 State of Rehab Therapy Report. To say that the healthcare industry is complex would be an understatement. While the advent of technology has made care more precise, efficient, and collaborative than ever before, it has also put greater pressure on providers to deliver high-value care at scale. After all, big data makes it possible to not only develop the most effective, evidence-based best practices …

  • The State of Rehab Therapy in 2018 Image

    webinarJun 1, 2018

    The State of Rehab Therapy in 2018

    Falling reimbursements. Skyrocketing insurance premiums and copays. Crippling student loan debt. As a PT, OT, or SLP, sometimes it feels like it’s you against the world. After all, the challenges you face on a daily basis are many and complex. But, you’re not alone. In fact, we recently surveyed nearly 7,000 rehab therapy professionals on everything from payment rates and clinic budgets to education costs and salary, and we found some pretty strong—and surprising—trends. [video://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/eh5khgt1r6]   Curious …

  • 3 Things You’ve Gotta Know About Running a PT Practice Image

    articleApr 7, 2016 | 8 min. read

    3 Things You’ve Gotta Know About Running a PT Practice

    As physical therapists, we’re observant. We closely examine movements, attentively listen to patient complaints, and expertly read between the lines. Unfortunately, though, we don’t always give that level of attention to the non-clinical stuff. Because while we’re expert empathizers, we’re not the strongest scrutinizers. And when it comes to business, you need to scrupulously scrutinize. I worked as a physical therapist for more than 15 years, and I spent a good portion of that time as a …

  • Common Questions from our State of Rehab Therapy Webinar Image

    articleJul 17, 2017 | 16 min. read

    Common Questions from our State of Rehab Therapy Webinar

    WebPT recently conducted an industry survey of thousands of rehab therapy professionals across a wide variety of settings, specialties, and geographic regions. Our goal: To capture an accurate snapshot of the demographics, trends, frustrations, and motivations that shape our businesses, our future outlook, and our potential for success in this environment of change. In last week’s webinar , WebPT President and Co-Founder Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, and WebPT CEO Nancy Ham shared the results of …

  • 4 Subtle Ways You're Killing the Patient Experience Image

    articleJun 22, 2018 | 6 min. read

    4 Subtle Ways You're Killing the Patient Experience

    A positive patient experience is essential for instilling confidence and security in your patients—and for sustaining a healthy practice. When patients feel rushed, dismissed, or expendable, they’ll often drop out prematurely —and possibly seek care from a different PT (or move on to a whole other discipline). With that in mind, here are some of the common ways you’re subtly sabotaging the patient experience that you work so hard to create in your practice: 1. Providing a …

  • The State of Rehab Therapy Image

    downloadJul 14, 2017

    The State of Rehab Therapy

    To see results from our most recent industry survey, check out the 2019 State of Rehab Therapy Report. Health care is not a static industry. It’s always changing, evolving, and progressing. No healthcare provider is immune to the effects of that change, but some—including physical, occupational, and speech therapists—have felt a greater impact than others. In an effort to assess the scope of that impact—and thus, better anticipate the future needs of the rehab therapy community—WebPT conducted …

  • The State of Rehab Therapy in 2019 Image

    downloadJun 17, 2019

    The State of Rehab Therapy in 2019

    Each year, we survey thousands of rehab therapy professionals on the metrics, strategies, and complicating factors that influence success in the current healthcare market. In 2019, we received more than 6,000 responses from individuals in a variety of settings, specialties, and geographic regions—and we’ve compiled all that data into the single most comprehensive annual report on the state of the rehab therapy industry.  This report features insights on everything from demographics and financial metrics to regulatory challenges …

  • The State of Rehab Therapy in 2017 Image

    webinarJun 5, 2017

    The State of Rehab Therapy in 2017

    WebPT recently conducted an industry survey of thousands of rehab therapy professionals across a wide variety of settings, specialties, and geographic regions. Our goal: To capture an accurate snapshot of the demographics, trends, frustrations, and motivations that shape our businesses, our future outlook, and our potential for success in this environment of change. In our July webinar, WebPT president and co-founder Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, and WebPT CEO Nancy Ham will share and analyze the …

  • 4 Surprising Factors Potential PT Hires Want in a Job Image

    articleApr 25, 2018 | 5 min. read

    4 Surprising Factors Potential PT Hires Want in a Job

    When you’re looking to hire a new physical therapist, you clearly want to find the best one possible: someone who is competent, committed to lifelong learning, conscientious, and caring. During the the search process, you probably pore over average salaries in your area , doing everything you can to ensure you’re providing a competitive payment and benefit package . After all, most PTs want the best possible compensation, right? Well, that’s partially true. With the cost of …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.