It isn’t uncommon for Dr. Mandy Binning (Virant) to have 50 or 60 patients under her care at once, whether they’re stroke patients to aneurysm victims. She usually spends more than 12 hours a day caring for patients and performing surgery at Capital Health, the busiest hospital for brain and aneurysm surgery in New Jersey.
“It can be a rigorous schedule, to be in surgery, all day, every day for a week—that’s the norm,” Binning says. “When I’m on call, I can be working any hour of the day or night. That’s OK, though, because that’s what I signed up for.”
Binning, originally from Wheatland and a University of Wyoming graduate, specializes in both traditional open and minimally invasive endovascular cerebrovascular neurosurgery. She is one of only a select number of neurosurgeons in the country trained to do both.
From an early age, Binning, who is director of the Comprehensive Stroke Program at Capital Health in Pennington, N.J., and a fellowship trained vascular/endovascular neurosurgeon, knew that she wanted to be a doctor. When Binning was just 8 years old, her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Binning was inspired by the doctors’ care for her mom. Her dream was confirmed as she completed the pre-med track at the University of Wyoming.
“I have really fond memories of UW. It was a wonderful time. I met my husband and started my career track there,” says Binning, who attended UW from 1995 to 1999, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1999. “We were prepared very well to get into medical school. I got everything I needed at UW and was able to compete with doctors who went to Ivy League schools for training opportunities and jobs.”
After graduating from UW, Binning completed her medical degree at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. It was there that Binning was drawn to neurosurgery.
“I realized I needed to be in neurosurgery,” she says. “In my opinion it’s at or near the pinnacle of what we can do as doctors. It’s the most rigorous. It’s the most challenging.”
While the demands of the career alone might turn some away, it instead appealed to Binning.
“Neurosurgeons have the highest liability of any physician because it’s the highest risk,” Binning says. “But that is not what matters. You can’t decide on a career based on fear.
There was a point at which if I couldn’t be a neurosurgeon, I wouldn’t have wanted to practice medicine.”
After graduating from medical school, Binning completed her neurosurgery residency at the University of Utah Medical Center. Binning then completed fellowships in endovascular cerebrovascular neurosurgery with the University of Buffalo’s Department of Neurosurgery and Capital Health’s Department of Neurosurgery. Her research papers have been published in industry journals, including Neurosurgery, Journal of Neurosurgery, Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, and Cancer Research. After fellowship training, Binning joined Capital Health’s neurosurgical team.
“It was the perfect job for me,” Binning says.
Capital Health receives patient transfers from 81 hospitals in the state. Binning says her patients’ conditions range from stroke to carotid stenosis to aneurysms to tumors and trauma. Whether it’s an initial visit to help diagnose a condition or a later visit to obtain advanced treatments, Binning said the team at Capital Health is committed to helping patients find the most appropriate treatment for complex cerebrovascular conditions such as aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations.
With Capital Health for more than two years, Binning has been recognized by both patients and peers. Recently, she was honored as a 2012 Top Doctor in multiple publications, including SJ Magazine and South Jersey Magazine. Binning said she thoroughly enjoys her career and the challenges she faces on a daily basis.
“Most of what we do is emergent,” she says. “I’m on call and in surgery most of the time.”
With a home in Pennsylvania, just across the river from New Jersey where Binning works, Binning says she still feels a pull toward Wyoming. Her husband, Brett Binning, is from Torrington and is also a UW graduate. Binning says they hope to eventually return to the state in which they both grew up and where their parents and families still reside.
“My dream was to always come back home to work. Ultimately it didn’t work out because I became so specialized and needed to work in an area with a large population density,” she says. “There is no doubt we will end up in Wyoming at some point, even if it is for retirement.”