4 Easy Ways to Recruit the Best Students to Your Clinic Every Time

What would it be like to have a mini-me next to you in the clinic?

Someone you could plan ideas for your client treatments with, help you finish the notes on time, develop and send home programs to the clients, and make every session more fun and engaging.  Sounds like a dream, right?!  This scenario is what having the RIGHT student can do for your practice!  And obtaining this is what I’m going to outline in this blog because getting the right students for you and your clinic makes all the difference!

PLUS! You will learn time-saving tips to interviewing students that really work!

At re+active physical therapy & wellness we have been taking students since our inception in 2012 because of our connection with the University of Southern California’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program and our commitment to teaching and mentoring.  Dr. Julie Hershberg has been teaching at USC for 9 years and I have been teaching there for 5.  Dr. Lauren Kaldjian taught at Mount Saint Mary’s University and California State Long Beach during her neurologic residency, and now a couple of years later, she has returned to teaching at Mount Saint Mary’s while working at re+active.  All of the staff at re+active have been involved in teaching at several of the local physical therapy programs in some aspect.  Because of this, we have developed a finely tuned process of attracting and recruiting the best students - which has even led us to hiring 3 of our last 5 students!  (And we would hire more if we could!) 


Our student program has not only served our company’s commitment to teaching and learning, but has greatly enhanced our daily operations and the care we provide to our clients. 

The level of growth we have accomplished would definitely NOT be possible without our amazing and excellent students.  Gone are the days when taking a student felt like extra work and time.  Welcome the days where you and your student take on a collaborative role of doubling your super powers to magnify your impact beyond where you alone could take it!  Sounds exciting, right?!


Here are 4 easy ways to recruit the BEST students to your clinic every time! AND how to do it without compromising client-care time!


Plus, get an awesome download of the top interview questions to help pick the best students!


1)   Involvement in teaching

As I mentioned before, nearly all of the staff at re+active are involved in teaching in some aspect.  Being in the classroom has provided us with direct experience working with many of the DPT students who will apply to our site.  This item is #1 for a reason.  We have gotten to know numerous students through direct exposure while teaching, which has helped us to determine who would be a good fit at our clinic.  Our clinic has a culture, just as yours does.  Having consistent contact with students has helped us to really see who would be a good fit in that culture and who would not.  Finding a student who really “gets it” and (hopefully) LOVES what you’re about is sure to be a great fit!


2)   Video interview

This next point is #brilliant and has saved us so much time in interviews!  I can’t take credit for this one.  This was Dr. Hershberg’s idea, and it was a game changer when we implemented it.  Regardless of how many students apply to your clinical site, you want to pick the very best one(s) for you and your staff, and you need to get to know them a little bit by doing some type of interview.  However, doing a bunch of live interviews is very time consuming and either negatively impacts productivity or needs to be done in your own free time

This is where the student video interview comes in! 

Here’s how you do it:  After you get all of the student applications, pick your top candidates.  Ask these students to send you a 3-5 minute video answering a few questions.  Our interview questions are as follows: 

1) How do you define empathy?

2) Why do you want to come to re+active? 

3) What can you contribute to re+active? 

The video interview is an opportunity for you to determine whether you’d like to follow up with a student in person by seeing if their interests align with yours. 

These 3 questions have really helped us to screen the students that we think would make the best fit for our clinic. 

Once we’ve identified the ones we like the best on video, we invite them to the clinic for #3.


*Pro tip: Our BEST students have demonstrated the following in their videos: They say we are their #1 choice of clinic, they LOVE neuro and definitely want to do neuro (NOT “I am trying to see if I like neuro”/”I want to get a good neuro experience so I am well rounded”, etc), and there is a good personality fit


3)   Co-treat session

Getting to see the students interact with clients and staff is critical to knowing whether you’d work well together and whether your clients would like them, too.  This is also a great way to save time because you are not missing out on a client session.  We have done this co-treat in 2 ways, both of which work equally well, but I think I like the 2nd way better because it feels less time-consuming on our part. 

  • Method 1: Send the student a brief description of the client (de-identified for privacy) 1-2 days before the co-treat and ask them to answer 3 questions about the information provided.  These questions aim to determine their treatment philosophy, thought organization, and use of research when thinking about clients.  It is meant to be brief (i.e. it should take them 10-15 min to complete).  They should return this to you prior to the co-treat. 
  • Method 2: Have the student come to the co-treat with only a brief knowledge of the client (perhaps only the diagnosis), and after the session have the student send you a plan via email for the next treatment session as a follow-up. 


4)   Short and simple follow-up, live interview

Get a copy of our key student interview questions!

Because of the prior steps, the follow-up live interview can be really brief.  The aim of this part is for you to ask some specific questions to determine their thought process and learning style and to answer any questions they might have.   We set aside 15-30 minutes for this interview on the same day as the co-treat.


*Pro tip: Prior to all of this, we send the students a short video on what it’s like to be a student at our clinic (company culture, mission and values, patient population, etc) and answer some commonly asked questions.  This tends to answer the questions they would normally ask you in the interview and saves you from repeating yourself so much!


After going through these 4 steps, you are sure to find the best possible students for your clinic and save yourself a lot of time and stress! 


We’d love to hear any experiences and successes you have had recruiting and interviewing for the best students!


Share it in the comments section below, or head over to our private Facebook community, NeuroCollaborative Professionals, and share it with the group to get input and support while you grow your student program.


Keep up that #iloveneuro spirit!

Erin Caudill, PT, DPT, NCS



And stay tuned for - Part 2…. Easy ways to train the best possible students!