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Occupational therapists are indispensable. These healthcare professionals play a crucial role in enhancing quality of life for residents, in and out of long-term care. But developing a strategy to successfully hire occupational therapists can be a challenge for long-term care facilities.

There are several factors to consider when hiring occupational therapists for your organization. Let’s learn more about the occupational therapy landscape, and how you can hire the best OTs.

Occupational Therapy by the Numbers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational therapist jobs will grow 14% from 2021-2031—far beyond the average for all occupations. This demand could easily add to a national OT shortage.

However, not all states will be hit equally hard. According to one study, the three states with the highest number of unfilled OT jobs by 2030 will be California, Florida, and Texas. The greatest shortages when measured as ratios of patients to OTs, meanwhile, will be in Arizona, Hawaii, and Utah.

Why Is it so Difficult to Hire Occupational Therapists?

  • Shortage of qualified candidates. As we explored above, there simply aren’t enough occupational therapists to fill open roles, and the shortage is only projected to get worse. The demand for OTs in the healthcare industry often exceeds the available supply. This scarcity of qualified candidates makes it difficult for individual long-term care facilities to hire occupational therapists.
  • Competing against other sectors of healthcare. Occupational therapists possess specialized skills that are highly sought after in various healthcare settings. As a result, long-term care facilities often find themselves competing against hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and other healthcare organizations to attract and retain talented occupational therapists.
  • Specialized skills and experience. Occupational therapists working in long-term care settings may need specific expertise in geriatrics and memory care. They will also benefit from knowledge and experience in areas such as fall prevention and adaptive equipment. These requirements can make an already small pool of candidates even smaller.
  • Geographic constraints. Hiring occupational therapists for long-term care can be further complicated by geographic constraints. Limited availability of candidates in specific regions or difficulties in attracting professionals to remote areas can make it even harder to hire occupational therapists.

How Can You Hire Occupational Therapists?

By understanding common hiring challenges and adopting effective recruitment strategies, you can increase your chances of finding and hiring qualified occupational therapists who will contribute to the well-being and rehabilitation of your residents.

Here are some of those key strategies.

1. Craft Effective Job Descriptions

When crafting job descriptions, specificity is key. Clearly outline the specific responsibilities and duties that occupational therapists will be expected to perform in the long-term care setting. Get feedback from direct managers about the duties and responsibilities needed for a specific facility.

Highlight the required qualifications and certifications, such as a degree in occupational therapy, state licensure, and any specialized training or certifications.

Also, be sure to provide details about the support and resources available to occupational therapists. These might include mentorship programs, continuing education opportunities, and more.

2. Connect With Local Schools

Attending career fairs, job fairs, and networking events can help you connect with aspiring professionals and stay updated on the latest talent in the market. When you establish strong relationships with local schools, colleges, and universities, you also gain access to a pool of qualified graduates and skilled students.

Consider extending job offers to promising students before their graduation. This strategy gives new graduates a headstart in their careers, and helps you hire occupational therapists before your competitors reach them.

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3. Create Internship or Volunteer Programs

Consider taking a proactive approach to hiring by developing internship and volunteer programs. These can be tailored specifically for occupational therapy work in your community.

To establish these programs successfully, collaborate closely with local schools that offer occupational therapy programs. Determine what type of internship program would best benefit occupational therapy students, factoring in wages, hours, and duties.

If you don’t have the infrastructure to establish an internship program, consider a shadowing program instead. In these programs, students can follow along with your existing occupational therapists, getting a taste for what the profession looks like inside of long-term care.

4. Market Your Business to Candidates

Recruitment marketing is the process of showing candidates that your workplace is an excellent place of employment. This includes writing strong job posts, but that’s not the end of it.

Some marketing strategies include:

  • Distribute posters and fliers. These may seem old school, but combined with digital marketing, they can help you reach candidates directly in your area.
  • Take time to create a brand. Branding helps you stand out from the competition. Consider hiring an external designer to make sure that your brand is as strong as possible.
  • Use QR codes. By adding QR codes to your physical posters, you can encourage candidates to navigate to your website no matter where they are. It’s a powerful and easy-to-use tool in recruitment marketing.
  • Repeat yourself. Let’s say a potentially strong occupational therapy candidate sees your job ad on social media. They might bookmark it for later, but it could quickly slip their mind. That could be the end of it. But if they see your recruitment marketing in another context (say, as a poster on their commute), they’ll be more likely to recognize and remember you. Repetition is a key part of effective recruitment marketing—just be sure to use varied techniques to avoid feeling monotonous.

Better Hiring With Apploi

If you’ve supercharged your hiring efforts but still haven’t gotten the occupational therapy candidates you need, it’s time to tailor your recruitment with position-specific strategies. Part of tailored recruitment is using the right software.

Apploi can help you post to healthcare-specific job boards, boost your posts through sponsorships, and onboard and manage your workforce from a single platform. Contact us for a demo today.

Melanie Boroosan

Over her six years in healthcare administration, Melanie has managed human resources, legal, compliance, payroll, and recruitment efforts at a corporate level. This oversight granted her a deep appreciation for the unique needs of healthcare managers, and for the direct ways that business operations affect the wellbeing of each employee. As Apploi’s Director of Healthcare Innovation, Melanie draws from her experience in healthcare HR and ancillary long-term care to pursue a vision of holistic healthcare staffing. Her work is rooted in the knowledge that great care begins with improving quality of life for all healthcare workers.