Physiotherapy Jobs in BC: 6 Clinic Models you Need to Consider
So you are about to begin working in private practice, if you have not already.
Physio jobs in BC, especially Surrey, Langley and Vancouver, are in demand. You’ll need a way to evaluate the opportunities. I looked at the PABC job posting site, ran a bit of math and made a nifty graphic, and you can see that you have a lot of options in just the lower mainland!
After all, you want to make the right choice for YOU. Right?
I have a suggested method for making that correct choice. Over my 19 years as a Physiotherapist and a clinic business owner, I’ve seen fellow professionals make poor choices… and good ones.
There is no lack of clinics looking for new team members, but good clinics will still be discerning as to who they hire. Even though there are a lot of physio job postings in BC, the better run clinics will still set the bar high.
I’m going to show you some things to consider. Things that can make the difference between a team being unmotivated, and a team being charged up and enthusiastic.
Let’s dig in.
Start with Asking Yourself a Few Questions
Before you start sending out resumes, or going to job interviews, I suggest you ask yourself a few questions.
The first question is one you should revisit throughout your career. It is the question you can use whenever you are in a dilemma about where to work, or if you feel you are being asked to work in a way that seems out of step with who you are.
The question is, “What’s my Why?”
To understand what I mean I recommend watching this great Ted Talk by Simon Sinek on Why (it has 58 million views!). After you watch this, ask yourself what your Why is. Your answer will help you write out your Core Values. Once you complete these two tasks, you will be able to define more about what you need in a workplace in terms:
- cultural fit,
- company ethos,
- and even things like treatment paradigm, and
- amount of professional development you want or need.
Here’s another way to think about it. Let’s say you and your partner wanted to buy a house. You should have some discussions about why you are wanting a new home, right?
Perhaps it is to be able to live in a nice suburb, because you want to raise a family.
Or, it could be that you want to live close to the mountains as you both love mountain biking, hiking and snowboarding.
In either of these situations, you are answering the questions of why you want to buy a home and what you value (e.g. outdoors activities, growing a family). The point is, you should do a deep dive into what you value and what you want out of your career, before you embark on that career.
Your answers to these questions should not be easy. Was part of your Why answer, “ to help people”? That is good, but a bit easy. Go further and ask yourself, “to help whom?”
Is it elders, kids, athletes, or all of the above? Was your Why answer “to be able to buy a house, so we can raise a family”?
Next Ask Where
I would then ask “where” you want to live; the more specific the better.
Answering, for example, “Rossland, BC” versus just saying “a small mountain town” will make it much easier for you. Yes, you want to be that specific.
Next Up: Core Values
In terms of Core Values let’s imagine you answered your “why” with, “freedom” or “travel”. Now you’re really digging deep into your heart’s desire.
These answers automatically suggest you should ask any potential employer:
- how rigid the work schedule is,
- how you go about booking time off, and
- how many days off you can have per year (or at a time).
Spending time on these questions truly is time well spent.
Aligning your Workplace with Your Answers
Now that you have your Why, your Where and your Core Values, we are ready to look at clinical models. Once you know this, then you can start to really focus on individual clinics that may have what you are looking for.
The following list is mine; others would have a different way of grouping clinical models. As I work only in our clinic’s model, I have asked a few colleagues to help explain them.
Orthopaedics -Sports Clinics
This is where our clinic, Pure Form Physio fits in. These are the majority of clinics out there and the original style of private practice clinics.
They are on a sliding scale as to how much they focus on:
- manual therapy,
- active/functional rehab,
- pain science education,
- needling / acupuncture and
- electrical modalities in their treatment.
Some clinics are more gym focussed with a more open space, others pride themselves on private rooms.
The key here is to recognise which area within the Ortho space you are most interested in.
Some clinics see a lot of injured, young athletes and others may see more weekend warriors and people with the aches that come with a sedentary lifestyle. If you are going to have to juggle multiple patients at the same time, or be rushed in your appointments, you may want to reconsider if that clinic’s model is right for you.
The only way to know is to ask the clinic owner or someone who works there. Better yet, ask if you can shadow a clinician for a few hours! At Pure Form we are always open to having a physio,RMT or kinesiology student or a fellow clinician as a guest to shadow us for a few hours. All you need to do is to ask.
These clinics are more common now and have really come into their own since the Pandemic. We order hot food, shoes, and meal prep kits to our doors; why not our rehab? I spoke with Justin Chipperfield who is the owner of Chipperfield Mobile Physio and asked him about their patient demographic.
“We have a multidisciplinary team consisting of Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Kinesiology, Acupuncture, IMS, Massage, Yoga Therapy, Personal Training, and Rehabilitation Assistant’s that delivers rehab to your door throughout Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
The demographic we serve ranges from babies to the elderly. We have a diverse, experienced team that treats a wide variety of conditions. Our home visits are 60 minutes, and always 1:1. Average number of visits per day ranges from 5-7, typically allowing roughly 30 minutes of travel time in-between sessions. Visits take place in people’s homes or care homes, offices, pools, gyms, and any other location that is safe and convenient for the client. Recently we added a dedicated Telerehab Physiotherapist to our team, allowing us to serve even more British Columbians”.
I also spoke with Eva Karukes who is the owner of Activate Neuro Physio about private neuro clinics.
“Private neuro is a complex field of physio practice and most new grads usually want to join the clinic where they can receive a hands-on mentorship.
The most rewarding part of working in a private neuro practice is the amount of time we spend with clients. We see about 5-7 clients a day and spend at least 60 min with each client. We also tend to see clients for much longer than what one expects from an ortho clinic. It is quite common to keep treating someone for many months or even years, which almost makes us a part of their family. The functional changes we help our clients to achieve are life changing.
Since the start of the COVID pandemic, we’ve decided to offer mobile neuro services, which is something quite new. This was welcomed with lots of excitement by our clients and therapists. As we are moving forward to the post-pandemic world (hopefully), we will keep the hybrid model of in-clinic and at-home neuro sessions to meet the demand of the current health care market.”
Diane Lee, who was my mentor when I started out, offered to describe the Pelvic Health aspect of her clinic, Diane Lee and Associates Physiotherapy.
“Pelvic Health is an umbrella term for any condition pertaining to the neuromusculoskeletal and organ components of the entire pelvic girdle. Assessing and treating pelvic health is more than an internal pelvic floor assessment. It requires understanding how the pelvis and its organs relate to the rest of the body and an understanding of the role of physiotherapy in urology, gynecology, digestion, sexual function, prostate health and more. Trauma (physical, psychological, social) often plays a role in persistent pelvic pain, which is seen in both the female and male population of all ages. Extensive post-graduate training is required to have the expertise required to assist complex patients with persistent pelvic pain and once attained this population is highly rewarding to work with. Some clinics treat only pelvic health, while others offer this service in addition to other care.”
Some clinical areas are so unique that they require specific training or certifications, appointment structures, staff supports, or clinic spaces.
The ScoliClinic is an example of that – their team provides ‘Scoliosis-Specific Physiotherapy based on Schroth principles for kids, teens, and adults with scoliosis, Scheuermann’s Kyphosis, and other spinal conditions’.
“When I first started treating teens with scoliosis, I noticed trends in parents’ concerns and frustrations in their journey. When I decided to open a clinic, I wanted to design the company to solve as many of those concerns as I could,” explained Founder and Physiotherapist Andrea Mendoza. “Structures that support our therapists’ and clients’ unique needs include longer 1:1 appointments (no PTA model), an extensive educational handouts library, treatment areas with wall bars, mirrors, and mats; a structured therapist mentoring program, and even a staff member dedicated to X-Ray Analysis.”
Developing a practice in a niche area offers many opportunities for companies and their staff to exercise their creativity – both in designing the services and supports, and in progressing clinical skill sets. Andrea continues, “Contrary to popular belief, entering into a specialist field does NOT make your day stale or repetitive – quite the opposite actually – you evolve an ability to pick up on the nuances of each client’s situation.”
Niche practices also bring challenges – many clinics are the first in their field, meaning they must find solutions as mainstream processes might not apply to their particular issues.
If you intend to work in a specialist setting, assess the agility, innovation, and critical thinking of the leadership team. As you’ll likely encounter unique challenges, you need supports that are willing to problem-solve with you.
Clinics to Avoid
I have worked on two continents and in multiple cities. The sad truth is there are places in every town or city that you may not want to work at. Patients and even doctors talk negatively about them and this only does a disservice to our profession, those businesses and the clinicians in them. You can do better.
A few red flags are:
- you are pressured to sell product such as orthotics, pillows or TENS units*
- you must see a certain number of patients per day early in your career
- you juggle two or more patients at the same time **
- you are promised professional development or shadowing that you never seem to get
- you are pressured to cross refer within clinic (e.g. to the chiropractor)
- you are working as an independent contractor but are being treated like an employee***
- there are probably more, but that is provocative enough for this blog!
* offering them when appropriate is not the same as you being pressured by your employer to “push them” on patients
** this suggests you will be relying a lot on electrical modalities
*** this issue and its possible ramifications on you by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) will be discussed in a future Blog in this series!
On a final note, I almost always get asked by new physios how long we allow for their initial assessments. My answer is, “how long do you need?”
If you had an hour on every university clinical placement, but now are having to go to 30 minutes on your first week, things could get really stressful for you. Eventually you will speed up, but it usually takes 6- 12 weeks for a new physio to be going faster than 45- 60 minutes. Take it slow and enjoy the experience!
There you have it. I’ve given you:
- Key personal needs you need to define, such as “why”, “where” and “core values”
- How to align those needs to a potential workplace, and
- The characteristics of various workplace clinic models to consider when searching for physio jobs in BC
Make the right educated choice for YOU.
To receive the rest of the blog series to your inbox and my Best Three Questions to Ask In An Initial Assessment please fill out this easy Google Form. I promise to only send you information to assist you in your career path, such as this ongoing blog series.
Finally, if you are interested in learning more about joining our team at Pure Form Physio please check out this page and video!
All the best, Dan
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