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How to Partner With Universities to Find PT Candidates

Finding physical therapy candidates

A major (and often overlooked) component of your clinic’s growth and hiring journey should be to tap into local Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs. Here you may discover top-notch clinical experts who have yet had their first opportunity to prove their skills and build their network, but are eager to land their first role and showcase their talents. And at the same time, working with universities can help you tap into these amazing networks, build community, and become a valuable resource for the next generation of PTs. In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits of such partnerships and how to go about establishing them.

Why partner with DPT programs?

Partnering with DPT programs can be a win-win for both your physical therapy practice and the institution. Here are four reasons why these partnerships makes sense:

1. Access to early-career professionals
DPT programs produce graduates who are well-versed in the latest research and techniques. Partnering with these programs gives you access to early-career professionals who are ready to make a meaningful impact on patients’ lives. These individuals are often energetic, enthusiastic, and eager to grow – and these vibes can certainly enhance the clinic’s culture! 

2. Streamlined recruitment
Collaborating with local DPT programs allows you to streamline the recruitment process. You can identify potential candidates during their education – especially if you mentor students during clinical rotations – and hire them as soon as they are licensed, thereby cutting through the noise of a lengthy hiring search. 

3. Cultural fit
Developing relationships with DPT programs enables you to assess candidates not only based on their clinical skills, but also their cultural fit within your practice. Developing a healthy company culture lends itself to positive working environments and is considered a key factor in preventing clinician burnout. So the more of these observations you can make, the more informed decisions you can make when pursuing certain candidates to join your team.

4. Innovation and research
Universities often emphasize research and innovation. By partnering, you can tap into these resources to stay at the forefront of the latest industry developments and connect with graduating professionals who are learning through the latest, most forward-thinking methods that can help keep your clinic on the cutting edge of therapy.

How to establish partnerships with DPT programs

Now that you understand the benefits, let’s dive into how to establish a fruitful partnership with nearby universities. But before you start, make sure to clearly define what you hope to achieve through the partnership. Are you looking for interns, future employees, or research collaborators? Having clear goals will guide your efforts and conversation when meeting with the program coordinator and academic leaders. 

Here are five ways to establish partnerships with DPT programs: 

1. Become a site for clinical rotations
Collaborate with the university to become a preferred site for clinical rotations. Instructing students during their intermediate and final clinical rotations is an excellent way to find young professionals who are eager to start their careers. If you’re serious about becoming a long-term clinical instructor, check out these resources from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). 

2. Offer to lecture
Share your expertise by offering to give guest lectures or workshops at the university. This not only showcases your knowledge but also helps build relationships with faculty and students. 

3. Develop mentorship programs
Develop formal or informal mentorship programs where experienced physical therapists from your practice guide and mentor students, offering valuable career and industry insights. Explore more benefits of mentorship as a clinic owner and career professional here

4. Provide continuing education opportunities
Extend continuing education opportunities to recent graduates, alumni, and program administrators. This shows your commitment to their professional growth and positions you as an educational leader in the community. Consider hosting a weekend course or monthly journal club that dives into the latest research findings.

5. Nurture alumni connections
Leverage the university’s alumni network to identify potential employees who have graduated from their DPT program. Most alumni offices have job boards where you can post employment opportunities and communicate directly with new grads. Remember to check their event pages for school gatherings and other opportunities to meet qualified clinicians.

The importance of mutual benefits

Remember, successful partnerships are built on mutual benefits. It’s not just about what you can get; it’s also about what you can give. Universities appreciate community partners who actively engage in the educational process and contribute to the growth of their students. By becoming a lab instructor, clinical educator, or community partner, you can effectively bridge the gap between education and the clinic, thus creating greater opportunities and better outcomes for patients. 


The need for skilled physical therapists has never been greater. As a clinic owner, you’re probably already aware of the importance of having a top-notch clinical team to ensure the well-being of your patients and stay ahead of the competition. Partnering with nearby DPT programs is a smart move for physical therapy practices looking to recruit future professionals. It’s a chance to engage with students early in their careers, shape their development, and identify future employees who align with your values and goals. By establishing these partnerships, you not only strengthen your team but also contribute to the growth of the next generation of physical therapists. So, take that step, unlock the potential, and let your practice thrive with the help of these remarkable partnerships!

About the author:

Kayla is a practicing physical therapist with over 10 years of experience in outpatient specialty clinics. From the clinic to her keyboard, Kayla leverages her knowledge to help you decipher complex medical jargon. Catch her at a coffee shop, LinkedIn, or at

Prompt Staff

Prompt Therapy Solutions builds practice management software for physical therapy clinics ranging from single provider practices and startups, to large enterprise organizations.

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