Clinical directors are high-level administrators that oversee the quality of physical therapy care. They play an essential role in the day-to-day operations, staff management, and regulatory compliance for a physical therapy department or practice.

While the position comes with significant responsibility, it can also be incredibly rewarding. If you are considering advancing your career in physical therapy, keep reading to learn what it takes to become a clinical director, and what to expect in this leadership role.

Physical Therapy Clinical Director Job Description

A clinical director is a licensed who oversees physical therapy departments in a variety of care settings: schools, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, residential care homes, sports medicine centers, and private clinics.

Physical therapy clinical directors wear a lot of hats. In this position, you might expect to:

  • Order equipment and supplies
  • Hire and onboard physical therapists and other staff
  • Assign cases and oversee scheduling for clinicians
  • Oversee initial patient evaluations and see patients as needed
  • Evaluate job performance and provide opportunities for advancement
  • Schedule inspections and repairs for medical equipment
  • Stay up to date on the latest treatments and techniques in the field
  • Act as a sounding board for therapists to discuss patients’ needs
  • Create goals to achieve patient success and meet larger business objectives
  • Communicate with patients’ healthcare providers for continuity of care for patients
  • Ensure the practice complies with state, federal, and industry laws and regulations

Clinical Director Qualifications

Physical therapy clinical directors are licensed clinicians, ideally with several years of experience under their belt. Some directors choose to pursue advanced certifications, including a residency or fellowship to advance their skills and knowledge.

Other skills that make for an effective clinical director are:


Good leaders motivate and inspire others to focus on the mission to improve the lives of every patient, every day. They support and encourage staff to continue to grow through professional development and mentorship. They believe in and model the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in every aspect of business operations.


The best physical therapy clinical directors also have exceptional communication skills. They practice active listening with patients and staff, and speak with clarity and transparency. Good communicators view feedback as a positive tool. They are able to provide, receive, and implement constructive feedback to allow the organization to continually evolve and improve.


It goes without saying that compassion is essential for physical therapists and other healthcare providers, regardless of their title or seniority. But a growing body of research shows that compassion can actually alter brain function for providers and patients in positive ways.

Clinical directors who model compassionate care foster a work culture that supports kindness towards oneself and others. This helps patients feel safe and comfortable, which are essential for clinical excellence.

A positive workspace allows physical therapists to feel seen and heard. It promotes high job satisfaction among team members and helps prevent burnout, a common problem facing today’s healthcare workers.

Physical Therapy Clinical Director Opportunities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for physical therapists at all levels is expected to grow 15% by the year 2032.  As the need for physical therapy grows to accommodate the nation’s aging population, the demand for therapists and directors to provide and oversee these services is sure to follow.

Visit Upstream Rehabilitation Careers to learn more about taking your physical therapy career to the next level, or to browse job opportunities across the country.