For 25 years, Obstetrician/Gynecologist Michael Benson, DO, has welcomed thousands of babies into the world and cared for a generation of women.
He is grateful for the role he has played in welcoming so many babies into the world – 5,000 by his estimate. “Every delivery is exciting, just like the first,” he said. “I think that's one of the great things about obstetrics; you do see a lot of happiness— a lot of joy.”
Now, after fulfilling his ambition, he is retiring from Sarah Bush Lincoln and moving to southern Nevada with his wife, Torrie. An open house to honor him is set for 2 to 4 pm, Wednesday, Oct. 2, in the Lumpkin Family Center for Health Education. His patients and coworkers are welcome to attend to bid him farewell.
Reflecting back, Dr. Benson recalls, “I wanted to be a doctor from the time I was eight years old. I always wanted to do obstetrics and gynecology mostly because, when babies are born, it’s generally a happy time for people. We do have some tragedies but, for the most part, life is coming into the world rather than leaving the world.”
While Dr. Benson takes pride in being able to care for women through all stages of life, his area of interest was infertility. “I especially enjoyed working with couples to help them be successful in having children,” he said. “Some we had to refer for more specialized care, but I’ve assisted several in that process and I’ve delivered their babies. It’s very rewarding.”
Born and raised in Utah, Dr. Benson worked as a brick mason to put himself through college at Southern Utah University. He married and became a father of two before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in zoology in 1982. He then joined the Army to provide for his family during the economic recession.
Dr. Benson moved with his family to Monterey, California, for his first assignment at the Defense Language Institute where he trained as a Chinese linguist. A year later, the family moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he was stationed prior to being accepted into medical school. He attended the University of Health Sciences (now called Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences) in Kansas City, Missouri.
Dr. Benson remained active in the Army National Guard during medical school and was then recruited by the Air Force Medical Corps during his second year of residency at Riverside Osteopathic Hospital in Trenton, Mich. After completing his residency, Dr. Benson and his family moved to Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, South Dakota where he cared for active-duty women and military wives.
After fulfilling his four-year commitment to the Air Force, Dr. Benson arrived at Sarah Bush Lincoln in October 1998, largely due to his friendship with SBL Obstetrician/Gynecologist Rick Miller, DO, who he trained with during residency. “He was looking for a partner and I was looking for a rural community to practice medicine in, so I came here and joined him,” he said.
“In the beginning, the bulk of my practice was obstetrics, but as you get older your patients age along with you, so it shifted from obstetrics to gynecology. I have a lot of patients who have been with me for the last 21 years. I was there when they were having babies and now many of them are going through menopause,” he said.
Dr. Benson also provided a specialty clinic at Paris Community Hospital where he offered prenatal care and performed outpatient surgeries one day a week. Another way Dr. Benson helped others was by serving on the board of Habitat for Humanity in the early 2000s.
While Dr. Benson hasn’t delivered babies in more than a year, he has continued to provide gynecological care. He is thankful for the opportunity to work with Dr. Miller and Obstetrician/Gynecologists Scott Meyer, MD, and Melvin Fleming, MD, and Nurse Practitioners Nicole Wochner, APRN, and Leslie Taggart, APRN. “It’s been an excellent practice and I’ve enjoyed it. As physicians, we help each other out and assist each other in surgical procedures and C-sections,” he said. “The community has been good to us, as well.” Dr. Benson’s last day will be Oct. 4.
While he’ll miss his patients and colleagues, Dr. Benson eagerly anticipates the next chapter in his life. “I’m definitely looking forward to spending more time with my kids and grandkids and spending time on my hobbies,” he said. “I’m a woodworker and a fly fisherman.” In fact, Dr. Benson has used fly fishing as an excuse to see the world along with retired SBL Pediatrician Thomas Snowden, MD. “Over the years, Dr. Snowden and I have been fishing in Canada, the western United States, New Zealand, Mongolia, Argentina, Chile and Iceland,” he said. “Every area has a little bit different scenery, but the trout don’t really change other than their size. Trout just tend to live in very beautiful places.”
Dr. and Mrs. Benson look forward to enjoying warm winters in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, and spending their summers near their roots in Utah. Two of their three children and nine of their 11 grandchildren live in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, Utah.