Hiring Other Practitioners: Interviewing for the Right Candidate

By Carly Samish , MAcOM, LAc, LMT
2018-10-30

Digital Exclusive

Hiring Other Practitioners: Interviewing for the Right Candidate

By Carly Samish , MAcOM, LAc, LMT
2018-10-30

Digital Exclusive

How can we create great jobs for others in our field? How do we find the right people to employ in our clinics that will fit with our team and want to stay long term? I spoke with owners of two successful clinics that hire, and retain employees.

Finding the Right Fit

According to Steve Knobler, manager at North Seattle Community Acupuncture Clinic in Seattle, Washington, it's important to take time to find the right person. Not only a competent practitioner, but a good fit for the clinic. Knobler does this by taking plenty of time with the interview process, then a 90-day trial work period.

This gives everyone a chance to feel out if it's a good fit and to address any problems that may arise. During the interview process Knobler explains the vision of the clinic to make sure it matches what the prospective employee sees as where they want to be.

I also spoke with Kimberly Hennessee and Sarah O'Leary, owners of Mend Acupuncture in Baltimore, Maryland. This clinic has individual and community style treatments, and a mobile acupuncture service. Both Hennessee and O'Leary said it was crucial to find the right match for the clinic culture, not just someone to work there.

They make sure the employee understands the expectations around this job, such as being supervised, having set hours, and working as a team. Employees at Mend enjoy the camaraderie of working with others and being able to support each other in their practice. O'Leary describes it as "The employees like to work here because they like to work with each other."

How to Keep Employees Happy

Hennessee and O'Leary recently switched their pay structure from productivity based, i.e. paid per client, to salary. This eliminates competition among their employees, and creates less pressure on the employee if a reminder call gets missed and a client no-shows. They said they are constantly problem solving and looking for ways to make the clinic better for everyone.

For Knobler "It's not so much about salary. Get ideas from staff, it's important to listen to them. Make time for fun with employees." Also, "Pay people fairly. Spend time with each employee, find out what excites them and how do they feel valued, because everyone is different." And positive reinforcement is always a good thing: "Catch people doing things right."

Management is a Job in Itself

A common pitfall for practitioners hiring other practitioners is that they underestimate the time and energy needed to actually manage employees. Hennessee and O'Leary are salaried (full-time) at Mend Acupuncture, half of that time is spent treating patients and the rest is management. Neither of them had previous experience in management so it was trial and error to discover what worked.

With opening their clinic they were asking the question, how do we grow this profession? The answer has been through a lot of hard work, (they each estimate they work 70-80 hours a week), and a lot of success with a thriving clinic in two locations and a third opening soon.

Knobler has a background in management and brings those skills to keeping the NorthSea employees happy to be working there. He said he considers himself "One-third acupuncturist, one-third manager, and one-third laundry service."

Knobler says if you ask for feedback from employees, then follow through, and collaborate as team. "Get all your people in the same boat otherwise they will be on the dock throwing rocks at your boat."

Know What it Takes

What the clinic owners I spoke with all share is the knowledge that management is its own job, and the willingness to dedicate time and energy to that aspect. They all have a passion for their professions, and the ability to learn as they go and constantly improve. We can set high standards for ourselves, whether looking for jobs or creating jobs in the field we love we can keep moving the profession forward.