Breakups are never easy. Even if it’s an amicable split, it’s hard not to look back on your time together and wonder what could’ve been. But here’s the good news: if you approach a breakup from a place of maturity and wisdom, you can learn some valuable lessons and apply them to your next relationship. Of course, the relationship I’m referring to in this post is the one between a rehab therapy practice manager and his or her staff providers. But just like the breakups that T-Swift sings about, when a therapist parts ways with your practice, it can be a major curveball—especially if it’s out of the blue. So, to ensure smooth sailing, stick to these essential guidelines:

Knock Out Patient Dropout: 8 Ways to Increase Retention and Revenue - Regular BannerKnock Out Patient Dropout: 8 Ways to Increase Retention and Revenue - Small Banner

Keep your cool.

To start, always abide by the Three C's: cool, calm, and collected. Even if your employee isn’t leaving on the best terms, it’s better to take the high road. After all, you never know how your other staff members may interpret your reaction. And no matter what, make sure you don’t vent your frustrations to patients or other employees. At the end of the day, this is more of a reflection on you than it is on the employee who’s leaving.

Review the employment documents.

Next, make sure you know who owes what to whom—and get your legal counsel on the phone. An attorney or advisor will likely tell you to review the agreement your employee signed at the start of employment. It’s very typical for a provider’s employment contract to include things like:

  • a noncompete clause that’s effective for a period of time after the end of employment,
  • a requirement for extended notice when ending employment, and
  • an agreement to not remove business or medical records from the premises.

In some cases, employment contracts may even include an agreement not to solicit patients or poach other employees, which is especially important in the case of therapists who leave to start their own practices. If the therapist breaks any terms of the employment contract, be sure to speak with your legal counsel for further direction.

Conduct an exit interview.

If possible, find out why the therapist is leaving. His or her reason for departure could represent an opportunity for you to improve your clinic’s values or culture. Many times, a therapist simply finds an opportunity that better aligns with his or her goals. Other times, you may need to reexamine your policies and structure. Perhaps there’s something you could do to prevent other staff members from leaving, too.

Also, make sure that whoever conducts the interview isn’t the employee’s direct supervisor. That way, the employee is more apt to provide honest and complete responses. Here are a few more tips for conducting a good exit interview:

  • Assure the employee that his or her responses will remain private and confidential.
  • Explain that the point of the interview is to uncover any processes that need to be changed.
  • Pay close attention to feedback from valued employees who leave.

Maintain continuity of care.

In the rehab therapy industry, providers tend to form bonds with their patients. After all, rehab therapists are incredibly hands-on compared to other healthcare professionals. That said, providers don’t own their patients. Ultimately, the patient chooses which therapist he or she sees, and patients may choose to follow their providers when they move to a different practice.

Typically, in the case of a planned departure, the therapist will notify his or her patients ahead of time. But if the departure is unexpected, that responsibility will fall to you. So, notify each patient of the therapist’s departure and ask if the patient would be willing to reschedule with another provider. You can do this over the phone or by email.

Fill the vacancy—stat!

If you’re already short-staffed, the last thing you want to do is create even more work for your other therapists. So, when you lose a clinician unexpectedly, you’ve got to fill the vacancy ASAP. But as any hiring manager knows, the hunt for talent isn’t typically an overnight process. Plus, you don’t want to hire the wrong person just to fill the vacancy. That leads to turnover, which could end up costing you more in the long run.

Instead, consider enlisting the help of a staffing agency. Then, you can continue your search for the right person without forcing your other providers to pick up the slack in the meantime. Plus, if it turns out the temp provider jibes with your team and clinic culture, you may even be able to bring him or her on as a permanent hire.

Ramp up your referral game.

While most employment contracts have a noncompete clause, you should still expect to lose a few patients anytime a provider leaves your practice. So, take that opportunity to shake up your marketing campaigns to attract referrals and make up for the potential dropout. You don’t even have to shell out extra money to boost your efforts. They can be as simple as reaching out to your best referral sources and letting them know you’re accepting new patients—or advertising special deals or wellness services on social media.


No matter how a business relationship ends, you can always walk away with a few lessons learned—especially if you handle the situation with poise and pragmatism. Do you have any tips that have come in handy when therapists have left your organization? Share them with us in the comment section below!

  • Employee Engagement: Your Most Important Business Initiative Image

    articleJul 5, 2018 | 5 min. read

    Employee Engagement: Your Most Important Business Initiative

    What single business initiative can make your employees want to work harder for you, while inspiring them to be happier than ever with their jobs? Hint: The answer is not more money . The answer is increasing employee engagement . This is possibly the single most important part of an owner or manager’s duties. To tackle this job, we must start with creating unparalleled company culture . Wikipedia defines company culture as “the character of the organization; …

  • 4 Reasons Your Staff Therapists are Unmotivated Image

    articleJun 7, 2018 | 5 min. read

    4 Reasons Your Staff Therapists are Unmotivated

    Treating patients is equal parts challenging and rewarding, which is one of the reasons physical therapy is such a fulfilling profession . But if you’re noticing that your therapists’ motivation is lagging a bit, it’s important to understand why. Here are four reasons why physical therapists’ motivation can decrease, as well as steps you can take to make things better.   Their compensation is based solely on productivity. The Problem Nobody likes being reduced to a billing …

  • Can You Hear Me Now? The Physical Therapist's Guide to Giving and Receiving Feedback at Work Image

    webinarJan 5, 2016

    Can You Hear Me Now? The Physical Therapist's Guide to Giving and Receiving Feedback at Work

    Feedback: everyone wants it. Professional feedback, in particular, helps us become better employees, managers, peers, and providers. It’s mission-critical when it comes to improving patient care and exceeding business objectives. Why, then, are we rarely getting the feedback we need or giving others the feedback they deserve? And when we do deliver feedback, why doesn’t it always have the desired effect? On January 26, Dr. Heidi Jannenga will team up with special guest and renowned leadership coach …

  • Train to Retain: Why Employee Training is the Key to High Retention Rates Image

    articleJan 26, 2016 | 2 min. read

    Train to Retain: Why Employee Training is the Key to High Retention Rates

    New employee training is the foundation for high retention. Here’s how to start newbies off on the right foot. You put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into finding and hiring great employees. So, it makes sense to do your darndest to keep them at your practice for as long as possible. What you might not realize is that the path to high staff retention actually begins at the end of the hiring process (that is, …

  • 5 Ways to Coach Your Patients to Achieve their Therapy Goals Image

    articleJan 15, 2019 | 7 min. read

    5 Ways to Coach Your Patients to Achieve their Therapy Goals

    As a healthcare provider, you surely want your patients to succeed. But, there’s only so much you can do before it really is up to the patient to show up, follow through, and commit to the lifestyle changes necessary between sessions to reach his or her goals. That said, there are ways to maximize your efforts—to provide your patients with a solid foundation from which to soar. With that in mind, here are five strategies for motivating …

  • 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 …

  • How to Hire for Fit Image

    articleJan 21, 2016 | 2 min. read

    How to Hire for Fit

    How can you find those elusive job candidates who truly are the right fit for your practice? When it comes to building a successful PT practice, hiring good employees isn’t just important; it’s essential. But finding the right candidate for each job often is one of the biggest challenges practice owners face. Why is it so difficult to find someone who’s the right fit? Many times, it’s because finding the perfect person for the job means looking …

  • Beignets on the Bayou: Top #APTACSM Social Moments of 2018 Image

    articleMar 2, 2018 | 5 min. read

    Beignets on the Bayou: Top #APTACSM Social Moments of 2018

    Last week, the WebPT team paraded through NOLA (literally) to celebrate our 10th anniversary at the APTA’s largest conference, the Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) . And by gumbo, was it a treat. We got to gather in the great—and super humid—state of Louisiana with 17,000 other physical therapy professionals to learn, network, connect, and all that jazz. (Seriously, there was a lot of jazz.) And speaking of jazz, nothing gets me more jazzed than experiencing the buzz …

  • The Most Important Benefit for Your Employees Image

    articleJan 27, 2016 | 2 min. read

    The Most Important Benefit for Your Employees

    Ensure your employees stick with you by giving them what they desire most. Regardless of industry, top-notch employees are in high demand. When you find a quality staff member—whether that employee is a tech or therapist—you want to hang on to him or her. But retaining high-quality team members is tricky, and if you fail to do so, your business certainly will suffer. Nowadays, there’s a ton of talk about developing the most attractive benefit packages—that is, …

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