Dr. John Binder is a pediatric neurologist at Billings Clinic. He loves to live in the moment and is passionate about helping younger patients. He has been recognized by his colleague for his professional work as well as setting up a clinic for patients with muscular dystrophy.
How did you decide to practice in Billings?
I went to medical school at Loyola University, a Jesuit institution with a strong emphasis on providing medical care for the underserved and this has always been a priority for me. In this region, there is a significant shortage of pediatric specialists and I love being able to take care of kids in real need. The other huge draw is the outdoors. I have always loved being outside and this a beautiful state to call home.
How did you decide to go into pediatrics and neurology?
I have always enjoyed working with kids. They are much more fun than adults and they keep me on my toes. I specialized in neurology because the brain is the most interesting part of the body and the least well understood. This keeps me engaged as I am constantly pushing myself to learn more. Pediatric neurology is a perfect intersection between great families and a fascinating field.
Why is creating programs for children with muscular dystrophy important to you?
When I started my practice at Billings Clinic one of the hardest diagnoses I made was telling a young couple their son had Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a severe neuromuscular disease causing progressive weakness. At the time, I was really at a loss with respect to how to deliver the best multidisciplinary care. There was a great Muscular Dystrophy Association clinic within adult medicine but the pediatric specialists were often seeing these patients in isolation. I worked with Drs. Shenk and Arbogast to develop a pediatric MDA clinic in January 2016. Now, kids from our large region can come here for one half day and see their key pediatric providers in one visit. The timing of this multidisciplinary clinic coincided with the first ever FDA approved therapies for many rare neuromuscular diseases, so this work has new significance. Every one of my textbooks will need to be rewritten due to the advances we are seeing today, and it is a very exciting time to be in the field. I learn so much from these resilient kids and I have the most fun with them as the Montana MDA summer camp physician.
What do you consider a good day at the office?
A good day at the office can take many forms. Sometimes it involves great news such as seizure freedom and withdrawal of antiepileptic medications or massive reduction of migraines and improved quality of life. Other times I can have a good day even after delivering bad news if I feel that I really walked with a family through a difficult time. Spending time with grieving parents is a real privilege I do not take lightly. Many good days involve collaborating with incredibly bright colleagues at Billings Clinic. I really love getting to know my patients and taking a holistic approach that tackles the root problems. I enjoy diving into lifestyle issues such as stress, mood, hydration, nutrition, and exercise– most of which are more important than the medications I prescribe.
Who do you consider to be your greatest mentor and why?
Dr. Brad Miller is a pediatric neurologist I trained with in Denver and I try to emulate him as a physician. He is bright, kind, and funny and when I worked with him, it didn’t feel like work. The first time we cared for inpatients at Children’s Hospital Colorado, he started rounds by writing three goals on the workroom whiteboard: No. 1: Provide excellent patient care. No. 2: Learn a pant-load. No. 3: Have fun. Those are goals that I try to bring to work each day.
What is your vision for Billings?
I envision a close-knit vibrant community of people from all walks of life meshing well together, embracing our similarities and differences, learning from each other, and making the city a better place.
When you’re not working, how do you relax?
I love spending time outdoors with my wife, Kelli, daughter, Ella, son, Jack and dog, Maize. We have a restored 1960s camper that we have used to create the best Montana adventures.
What is a guilty pleasure of yours?
I love fried chicken.
If you couldn’t be a doctor, what would you be instead?
I would really enjoy being a park ranger or teaching special education or biology.
What is your favorite book and why?
"The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. The core message is great: Slow down and live in the moment.