Shepherd Center Physician Angela Beninga Explains Why She Loves Her Job
Dr. Beninga directs Shepherd Center's Spinal Cord Injury Day Program and sees patients in the hospital's Multi-Specialty Clinic.
A doctor of osteopathic medicine, Angela Beninga, D.O., is a staff physiatrist in Shepherd Center’s Multi-Specialty Clinic and the director of Shepherd Center’s Spinal Cord Injury Day Program. Dr. Beninga is a native of Sioux Falls, S.D. She moved to Atlanta to join Shepherd Center in September 2012.
Q: What have you learned about Shepherd Center since you began working here?
A: Probably a tenth of what I’ll know in a few more years! But I do know that it definitely lives up to its reputation. It’s very unique to work at a place where you see patients from all over the world coming for the services available here. The knowledge base of the staff and the level of care – by everyone – is incredible. It’s been an eye-opening experience so far.
Q: What keeps you motivated and learning in your position?
A: One reason I was interested in treating spinal cord injuries is that it exposes you to people from all different kinds of backgrounds and places who have different types of injury. You approach each person differently. My work is a daily reminder of how much I have to be grateful for in my life. That’s a testament to how well so many of the people I work with are able to turn a catastrophic injury into something positive.
Q: How did you choose to focus on spinal cord injuries?
A: I always wanted to do physical medicine and rehabilitation. As an athlete when I was younger, I marveled at the human body, how it heals and rehabilitates itself. That was kind of fascinating to me.
Q: Did you have an injury that made you realize that?
A: No. During the third year of my residency, my first rotation was working with spinal cord injuries. That wound up being the most fun, enjoyable eight weeks of my residency. You meet so many different people and have to approach their injuries from different angles. I also like that with spinal cord injury medicine, no two days are ever the same.
Q: Is there a guiding philosophy or rule you keep in mind at work?
A: That it’s important to see the positive in every situation. We all go though things in our lives – experiences, changes and adjustments. Some are good; some are bad. But even in the bad ones, there’s something about that experience that enhances who you are as a person. Whether that’s your outlook on something, your drive, or whatever it may be, something positive can be found in every experience.
Past director of spinal cord injury medicine, assistant professor, University of Cincinnati’s Drake Center; spinal cord injury rehabilitation fellowship, University of Michigan; medical internship, Ingham Regional Medical Center, Lansing, Mich.
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Michigan State University
Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences
University of South Dakota
- What nickname is bestowed upon you when you’re a 6-foot,1-inch college basketball player named Beninga? “Big Ben.”
- When Dr. Beninga has free time, you’ll most likely find her outdoors. She likes hiking, kayaking and anything on the water.
- Her 2-year-old boxers, Jackson and Zoey, often accompany her outside. They are not, however, up for anything on the water. “They hate the water!”
Interviewed by Phillip Jordan
Photos by Louie Favorite
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 900 inpatients, 575 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year.