Meaningful Mentors: Meet NAIOMT's Amy Temes Clifton

Posted by NAIOMT on Mar 18, 2021 5:37:03 PM

Amy Temes Clifton received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of Montana in Missoula (2007) and completed her Fellowship through NAIOMT in 2018. She splits her time between patient care and the Therapeutic Associates Education Department, where she serves as the Director of Clinical Practice as well as a mentor for new staff, residents, and fellows-in-training.


What drew you to PT as a career? When and how did you start your journey?

Both of my parents worked in rehab. My mom is an Occupational Therapist and my dad is a Physical Therapist. It was clear that they loved heir jobs and I got the feeling they would do it even if they weren’t paid.

Where did you go to school and why?

The University of Montana for PT school. The program had a good reputation and my dad had a great student from that school at the time I was applying. I loved the outdoor community in Missoula as well.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

With Therapeutic Associates Inc in Eugene, OR. I worked alongside a great mentor, Hannah Shallice (NAIOMT fellow). David Deppeler and Bill Temes were also my mentors through the Orthopedic residency and later through Fellowship. The strong mentorship at TAI taught me the value of paying it forward and how valuable it was to help others grow. That mentorship and support helped me grow to love my profession and why I’m so dedicated to the TAI Education department.

Where did you take your first NAIOMT courses and what was your first impression?

Seattle, WA (TAI) and Portland, OR (OOPTSGA) with Bill Temes, Kent Keyser, Erl Pettman and Ann Porter Hoke. I loved it and felt like a sponge. I was grateful that doing the Orthopedic Residency allowed me to take so many courses during my first two years of employment.

How did you hear about the NAIOMT Fellowship Program?

My dad, David Deppeler and all of the NAIOMT family. They all encouraged me and nudged me to jump in with two feet. My colleague Josiah inspired me to get started as he was working through it as well.

Was fitting the fellowship into your lifestyle challenging?

I made a plan and had the support from my family. I committed to dedicating a certain number of hours per week and chipped away. It was very manageable with a plan. Growing my skills made me love my job even more, so the time and work was worth it.

What did you enjoy most about the Fellowship program?

The mentorship and being held accountable for integrating my skills into practice.

Who was/is your mentor? Tell us about several if you have them!

It's hard to pick just one. My dad (Bill Temes) is my greatest inspiration. His dedication to being a lifelong learner, teaching, moving the profession forward and mentoring others energizes and inspires me. David Deppeler, Steve Allen, Kent Keyser, Ann Porter Hoke - these people all inspired me to go into the profession and have encouraged me through my journey. When I was in college and trying to decide which direction I wanted to take my career, I looked around at all of my dad's PT friends and thought, "All of these people are amazing and truly love their job." I'm so thankful to call them my mentors, colleagues and friends.

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

Having been mentored by so many amazing PTs, I wanted to share that with others and help them find their passion in the profession too. When you have better skills and reasoning, you enjoy what you do! I also like the challenge of mentoring and teaching. It helps me be a better PT and continue to hone my own skills.

What’s unique about you as a teacher?

I think it's important to create a comfortable space where people can challenge themselves and make mistakes. I try to make it a positive, fun experience even if a PT is anxious. I work hard to optimize the design of my teaching and presentation so that participants feel engaged.

What's your most strongly held belief about how PT should be provided?

Our greatest strength is being a good listener and reading your patients.

What's your mantra when it comes to treating?

Connect and listen to your patients with your eyes and ears.

What do you believe is the biggest problem facing PT today?

A constantly changing environment and limiting reimbursement that are trying to dictate how we provide care. We need to be strong and creative in order to continue to provide quality comprehensive care to our patients.

What advice would you give to new PT graduates?

Focus on developing your foundation. The best therapists do the basics really well.

You will be teaching the NAIOMT specialty course Manip With Ease in 2021. What are the benefits that PTs will get out of this course?

Manip with Ease is designed to help PTs (specifically smaller statured PTs) optimize their body mechanics and learn new manipulation/mobilization techniques or modifications so they can be more efficient and effective, all while being mindful of their own bodies. Different arm length, hand size, and body mass might influence which technique you choose. We believe that everyone has the potential to be a great manual therapist and manipulator with the right technique or modification.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Play with my kids and be with family. I love being outside, whether it's hiking or working in the yard.

How do you combine these interests with your PT profession?

I work with a lot of cyclists. All of my cycling and running injuries over the years have made me a better PT as I appreciate the rehab process myself. I’ve had the experience of needing to find “replacement” activities, so I can genuinely speak to that when I talk with patients about that component of rehab.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the PT profession (dead or alive) who would it be?

David Lamb or Maggie Knot.

What's something your fellow faculty members might not know about you?

I bake when I'm stressed.


Which historical figure has been most influential in your life? Why?

RBG - Dedication to her profession, continued learning, love for her family, committed to moving her profession forward and lifting up other women and those around her.




Manip With Ease

Join Amy Temes Clifton and Jessica Smith-Blockley for the specialty course Manip With Ease. Follow links below for course details and to register:


Post-Course Office Hours

If you ask any of our faculty how they went from good clinicians to great clinicians you will often hear them refer to their mentor. That person who believed in them and took the time to answer their questions. We know that many of you are still looking for that mentor and we would like to help!

Join Amy Temes Clifton in NAIOMT's online mentorship program Post-Course Office Hours.






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NAIOMT is happy to announce that we will be resuming our “Post-Course Office Hours” mentorship program. Each Office Hours session will be offered on Zoom on a monthly basis, with both Pacific and Eastern time zone options.



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