Perhaps our future depends on engaging new graduates?

Recruiting and retaining team will soon be affecting every allied health business. In my opinion, we are only just starting to see the thin edge of the future workforce issue wedge that has been triggered by the $22 billion NDIS investment. As hundreds of thousands of participants join the program over the course of the next couple of years, there is a theory that there are not enough allied health professionals to deliver the required services. We are already seeing this. Yet we currently have new graduates who can’t get work. How can this be?

I am a huge and longstanding fan of new graduates.

They are energetic, curious, keen to learn, and they are tech confident. They have knowledge that is different to mine and they also learn differently … and, let’s face it, they are many years closer to a typical client demographic than I am. New grads don’t have a default setting for delivering services; they are creative, flexible, and focused on providing a strong and effective service. In my experience, they are much more reflective, honest and available for learning and mastery. For me, the ideal team embraces new, mid and advanced career therapists.

How do we shift towards snapping up new grads, guiding them, and giving them the chance to enhance our businesses?

Partnering with Universities. My understanding is that universities are constantly looking for organisations to host their students. We have taken final year students in my practice. We partnered with a local primary school, planned a ten-week program, and got to work. The students spent several days on-site in the school and the remaining time at the clinic. They were on boarded to our admin and practice management systems, attending all our PD and team meetings, reported on their work and soaked up everything they possibly could. We then engaged many of our students and welcomed them to the team as graduate clinicians.

You are never too small to engage a new graduate.

I increasingly hear of solo – ‘healthpreneurs’ who bring in new grads on a hybrid role. They shadow assessments then score and prep reports, prepare resources, assist in groups, conduct screenings, assist with admin, harvest social media content, and deliver face-to-face individual services. Map it out, allocate tasks and time; a part time commitment is a great way to start.

The time you invest at the start will be returned in spades.

If you have a small team, work with them to plan a 20-week, ideally a 50-week, program. Remember to include your admin team. At best, you can book dates and times for the new grad to attend internal and external meetings, have them visits sites, allied health partners, and referrers, participate in internal and external professional development, shadow teammates, read books, have clinical conversations, and deliver services. Whilst this superstructure may sound extreme it is a selling point for your organisation in the recruitment process and helps keep the entire support system around the new graduate focused. From the new grads’ point-of-view, the structure is likely to help manage their expectations and anxiety about what is happening next.

The next five years will bring tremendous workforce issues. Your attitude towards new graduates could be the make or break difference in your ability to delivery services. You are never too small or too busy to think about your commitment to new graduates and what they can bring to your business. I hope I’ve got you thinking … what could you do next?


Cathy works as a Paediatric Private Practice business coach.  Her lived private practice experience and management know how may be just what you and your business need.  Get in touch today and book your free 30 minute consult.