Alumni Profile: Robert Bina, MD
Growing up in a military family, Robert Bina, MD, went to high school in Macon, Georgia, and later attended the University of Pennsylvania. A year after finishing his undergraduate degree, Dr. Bina moved to Arizona, where he got more involved in the medical community.
“I finished a graduate degree at Northern Arizona University; it was sort of a molecular biology degree,” Dr. Bina said. “I worked in Phoenix for a little while and then went to medical school as a latecomer.”Dr. Bina always had an interest in medicine; and he enrolled at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix in 2009.
“I’m ultimately interested in the welfare of people and humanity,” Dr. Bina said. “There’s something very important in changing an individual’s life and helping heal someone’s body that is deeply meaningful.”
During his years in medical school, he realized his love for neuroscience and surgery could be combined in neurosurgery, which brought him to a medical field that interested him. Dr. Bina chose epilepsy as his subspecialty in neurosurgery.
“I would have to say that neurosurgery is very demanding, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m interested in it,” Dr. Bina said. “It’s not just a technical skill, but you have to walk with people through some of the darkest, scariest things that can happen to a human.”
After graduating in 2013, Dr. Bina matched into the neurosurgery training program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson and continued his fellowship training at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle and the University of Louisville in Kentucky.
In addition to working as a neurosurgeon at Banner Health in Phoenix, Dr. Bina trains medical students as an assistant professor of Neurosurgery at the college.
As an educator, Dr. Bina employs two teaching philosophies that have proven effective in helping students learn information: repetition and the Socratic method, which involves sharing a dialogue between teacher and students. The goal is to increase the amount of students’ knowledge.
“Asking questions like, ‘What do you think? Would you comment on this?’ exposes what students know and what they don’t know,” Dr. Bina said. “Dr. Travis Dumont down in Tucson always said there are three pieces of the pie: the things you know, the things you know that you don’t know and then the things that you don’t know that you don’t know.”
Dr. Bina engages research residents in teaching the next generation of neurosurgeons, demonstrating surgical techniques and more recent advancements in the field.
He said the impact that he can make on patients’ lives combined with continuous learning to sharpen his surgical skills and training keeps him inspired.
Dr. Bina still recalls the words that Elaine Niggemann, MD, retired faculty, shared with his cohort at their White Coat Ceremony, “It takes 10 years to get 10 years of experience.”
“There is no teacher like experience,” Dr. Bina said. “Knowledge helps you in situations that you’ve never encountered. You don’t know how to navigate a situation until you’ve actually experienced it.”
About the College
Founded in 2007, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. By cultivating collaborative research locally and globally, the college accelerates discovery in a number of critical areas — including cancer, stroke, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular disease. Championed as a student-centric campus, the college has graduated more than 800 physicians, all of whom received exceptional training from nine clinical partners and more than 2,700 diverse faculty members. As the anchor to the Phoenix Bioscience Core, which is projected to have an economic impact of $3.1 billion by 2025, the college prides itself on engaging with the community, fostering education, inclusion, access and advocacy.