Alumni Spotlight: Q&A with Ron Clinton, PT ’70, MEd ’86

We're getting to know alumni from every program at the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Submit your own details for Alumni Spotlight consideration by filling out our brief form

Q: Congratulations on a long and successful career! Where are you currently practicing?

Ron Clinton
Ron Clinton, PT ’70, MEd ’86, Certified MDT

A: I’m a physical therapist in private practice at Knee and Spine PT in Rochester Hills, Michigan.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

A: I have the opportunity and privilege to help people learn to self-manage and self-treat their pain. Every client is unique and has a unique personal plan to be developed. Being exposed to the concept of treating holistically allows me to treat the whole person and not just the area of the body that the order calls for. I also love to create educational materials for consumers and therapists. I've written two books: How to Prevent Burnout and Achieve Personal Well-Being and Self-Manage Knee Pain: 52 Tips Before Considering Injections or Surgery. I've also produced a course for consumers: Self-Manage and Self-Treat Your Knee Pain: Before (Or After) Injections or Surgery, which is on the Teachable Course Platform.

Q: Give us a brief look at your journey — where did your career begin and how did it unfold to lead you to where you are today?

A: My first PT job was at Mt. Carmel Hospital in Northwest Detroit — I treated in- and outpatients and worked with many burn victims. I was there for five years. I then went to Henry Ford Hospital with special interest in Cardiopulmonary PT. I was sent to London, England, for two months for advanced training by the hospital. At HFH, I became a Certified Stress Stoppers instructor and Smoke Stoppers instructor. I was also very involved with the hospital’s Wellness program. A totally different experience at HFH was doing home health PT in the community around the hospital. My last few years at HFH began a new journey. I became very interested in the McKenzie Method of Spinal Care. In 1992-2000, I was the supervisor of back care at Crittenton Hospital. In 2001, I started private practice in association with Healthquest PT. I am still seeing patients but am doing more education (through my knee booklet and course) and educating other therapists.

Q: What are some lessons learned or skills gained at Wayne State that have been invaluable to your success?

A: It was extremely valuable to be part of such a diverse group of students. Even after graduation, I lived on Ferry Street across from the Merrill-Palmer Institute. A group of us from the Newman Club lived in that big gray house and we were focused on social justice issues, women's rights, civil rights, the Grape Boycott, etc. I grew up in St. Clair Shores and hadn't met many other people with different cultures, different beliefs, different priorities, etc.

Ron Clinton after a race
Ron Clinton, PT ’70, MEd ’86, Certified MDT

Q: Please share a memory or two of your time at WSU.

A: I was asked by the sister of one of the guys I was living with to go to folk dancing at Old Main. Another guy that she asked, who was a good friend of mine, agreed to also go. We were used to going to clubs and into rock and roll. We thought we'd go just this one time and be done with it. We ended up liking it so much that we would go almost every week for four hours of great exercise and meeting people from all over the world. My friend met his wife there and I was his best man. I guess the lesson is to try something a little out of your comfort zone — you never know where it might take you.

Q: Do you have any advice for today's students?

A: Never stop learning. Never stop reading, especially things a bit out of your current specialty field. I've been fortunate, within my field, to change specialties. Who knows what AI will be doing to the workforce in the future. Consider developing strong public speaking skills, which should help your communication skills in day-to-day interactions. Become a great listener. Being a diversified learner helps you become a better team member. 

Q: What's next for you?

A: The booklet Self-Manage Knee Pain: 52 Tips Before Considering Injections or Surgery was recently published and is available on Amazon. My vision for this book is to globally disseminate knowledge about knee pain to help consumers make better decisions regarding the best possible researched based care they can receive. Additionally, I want to promote physical therapy as the best first choice for professional assistance. 

Physical therapists are dynamic health professionals who develop, coordinate and utilize select knowledge, skills and techniques in planning, organizing and directing programs for the care of individuals whose ability to function is impaired or threatened by disease or injury. The goal of PT is to enhance a person’s quality of life and their ability to participate in activities. The Doctor of Physical Therapy program application process opens July 1 and the deadline is Oct. 15. WSU Applebaum information meetings for prospective students take place at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month.

An anchor in urban health care 

The Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is built on more than 100 years of tradition and innovation in the heart of Detroit. We have grown deep roots in our city, harnessing its powerhouse hospital systems and community service organizations as vibrant, real-world training grounds for students, with an ongoing focus on social justice in health care. And our research at all levels – from undergraduates to veteran faculty members – translates into creative solutions for healthier communities.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering approximately 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 24,000 students.

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