Dr. Rhonda Taubin Treats Patients with Brain and Spinal Cord Injury in Shepherd Center's Multi-Specialty Clinic
Rhonda Taubin, M.D., is a staff physiatrist in Shepherd Center’s Multi-Specialty Clinic. This summer marks her 10th year at Shepherd Center, including eight years at Shepherd Pathways, where she worked with post-acute rehabilitation patients recovering from brain injuries.
Q: What kind of patients do you see in the Multi-Specialty Clinic?
A: I still see a lot of brain injury patients, but there’s more variety working in the Multi-Specialty Clinic than at Shepherd Pathways. I see [Dr. Donald Peck Leslie’s] post-polio patients, people recovering from spinal cord injuries and patients with multiple sclerosis.
Q: What’s the ultimate goal of your work in the clinic?
A: We’re treating people to help them meet their goals of getting back to productive lives, no matter what stage of life they’re in. It could be school, a job, playing with their grandkids, whatever it is.
We’re helping patients with new braces, modifying wheelchairs. For brain injury patients, we’re often dealing with cognitive problems in terms of memory and concentration. Or we’re adjusting medications or using Botox to help people better manage spasticity issues.
I like the challenges that come with our work in the clinic. There’s an intellectual stimulation. The ultimate goal is to make people better. That’s the coolest thing to be able to do!
Q: What makes rehabilitation work unique from other fields of medicine?
A: There’s a jack-of-all-trades kind of variety. It’s incredible watching somebody go from a coma all the way back to a real life. That’s so rewarding. Plus, doing primary care, you form longstanding relationships that can last for many years. I love that. I still see some patients from the very beginning of my career. Let’s just say that emergency care wouldn’t fit my personality!
Q: Is there a recent example of that sort of patient relationship that stands out?
A: The first one that comes to mind is from this past winter when we had the big snowstorm. There was a kid who was sledding and hit a fire hydrant and had a brain injury. I happened to be on call that weekend.
He wasn’t doing well when he first arrived. He was in a coma, unresponsive. He’s 17, and I’ve got a son who’s 17, so it hit close to home. And it was particularly upsetting because this kid was just out having fun in a rare snowstorm!
I went back over to that unit to check on him a couple weeks later. I went in his room, and he’s sitting there texting on his phone with his parents in the room. It was such a great moment to talk with him. You get one of those every once in a while, and it keeps you going!
Q: Your husband (Dr. Scott Shulman) is in medicine, too. How is it having a pair of doctors at home?
A: It’s great. We met in medical school at Emory University, so we both knew what we were getting into! He was a year ahead of me and helped me study for the boards.
Being together also led us to stay around Atlanta. I grew up in Miami and went to college in New Orleans. I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather. He’s from Pennsylvania. He would go no farther south. I wouldn’t go farther north!
Past assistant medical director at Renaissance Rehabilitation Center, Roswell, Ga.; member, Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Emory University Affiliated Hospitals, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta
Newcomb College Institute of Tulane University, New Orleans
- Dr. Taubin’s favorite sporting passion is tennis. She plays competitively in the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association.
- Her favorite book is The Da Vinci Code.
- What’s her most surprising hobby? “I day-trade stocks. I did that when I wasn’t working while my kids were little. I don’t do ‘sit-at-home-doing-nothing’ very well!”
- Her drive-time dial is usually set on CNBC or “The Pulse” on XM Radio.
- Dr. Taubin is also a technology enthusiast. Her latest interest is the new trend of wearable computers.
- The Taubins have two teenage sons, Brett and Drew. “I work part-time, two days a week. So I get to be a mom full-time the other three days. I’m very lucky in that sense.”
Interviewed by Phillip Jordan
Photos by Phil Skinner
Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.