Hiring Your First Clinician, Part 1

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Hiring Your First Clinician, Part 1

All right! You’re ready to get moving on hiring your first clinician! But, how do you start? If you’ve never hired anyone before, this process can seem overwhelming. You can certainly throw a job ad out there and hope you get a fantastic candidate who is itching to work with you and you alone… or you can be realistic and realize that it will probably take some planning, effort, and organization to get your dream candidate. This will be a three-part blog, with this first article dedicated to the planning process that needs to be done prior to hiring your first clinician. I’ve broken down the planning process into several easy-to-follow steps so you can take it a little bit at a time.

Create a Timeline

The first thing to do is to be realistic about how long it may take to not only hire someone, but to hire the right person. The entire hiring process from start to finish could potentially take up to 6 months or longer. If you get some great candidates right away, your time frame may be closer to 3 months. I’ve found that it’s really difficult to get someone on board in less than 2 months once I have hired them, but perhaps you’re more streamlined and efficient than I am! In your timeline, include all the steps listed below along with to interviewing candidates, hiring your therapist, and onboarding them.

Your Ideal Candidate

Just as you have identified your Ideal Client Avatar for your practice, you will also need to identify your Ideal Clinician. Brainstorm who your ideal candidate would be, and write down keywords that come to your mind. Should your Ideal Clinician be motivated, a self-starter, or more of a team player? After you’ve written down your top ideas, prioritize what is the most important characteristics of your Ideal Clinician, knowing that you may not get everything you want.

Identify Your Must-Haves

You have your vision for how you want your practice to run, and it likely includes ideas about your clinicians’ training and experience. Create three categories: Must-have, Nice-to-have, and Absolute-no, and start going down your list of candidate qualifications. Are you willing to take interns or pre-licensed clinicians, or are those “absolute nos” for you? Do you require your clinicians to be licensed, so they can accept insurance? If so, put “licensure” in the must-have category. Would you hire someone who has their own private practice or do you want someone to work exclusively for you? One thing that I’ve learned is that if you compromise on your must-haves in the beginning, you likely will not be happy in the long-run.

Employee vs. 1099

Now you need to decide if you’re going to hire staff as a W-2 Employee or a 1099 Independent Contractor. You’ll want to check out your state’s rules and regulations related to hiring. Als0 contract with a local lawyer to draw up either your Independent Contractor Agreement or Employee Agreement/Manual. There are multiple articles out there that explain the difference between W2s and 1099s. One that discusses W2 vs 1099 can help you make a decision about what type of clinician(s) to hire. 

Job Posting

You have all of the details figured out, so now it’s time to create your job posting for your Ideal Clinician! Make sure to include brief information about your practice and why someone would want to work for you. List specific job duties along with requirements for licensure (or not), experience, and characteristics. You’ll also want to include any job benefits that you offer. Such as medical insurance or CEU stipends. Also, what services your business offers to new clinicians building their caseload, like marketing support, business cards, new referrals, etc. Put it all together on one form and you’re ready to post it! Next month’s blog will talk more about how and where to advertise for your new job.

Now you have the first several steps for hiring your first clinician! Again, keep in mind a realistic time frame for this entire process. The time to hire is actually before you absolutely need someone. If your caseload is 80% full and you’re not seeing client turnover, and expect to get referrals at the same rate as you have been, it’s definitely time to start the planning and hiring process. Good luck, and stay tuned for Part 2 of Hiring Your First Clinician!


Shannon Heers is a licensed professional counselor in Colorado. She owns the private-pay group practice Catalyss Counseling in the Denver metro area, focusing on helping adults manage their anxiety, grief, and trauma. Shannon is also an experienced clinical supervisor and manager and is just starting to offer business consultation services to other therapists. She balances working with raising her two young children.