written by Jen #supermom
As a parent of two children who are patients of Dr. Cao, I can only say WOW…how lucky are we to have found the most genuine, caring, attentive, comforting and professional pediatrician. I remember the first time I met him 3 and ½ years ago. I had just given birth to my little girl at Methodist Hospital, and Dr. Cao (the resident doctor at the time), came to visit us in our hospital room to check in. It was immediate – I knew right away that this guy had to be her pediatrician. He instantly calmed me, made me laugh, and showed my daughter genuine affection and care. I’ve always wanted to know a little more about the doctor we all love and admire so much, and I think many other parents want to too!
Let’s start from the beginning…when did you first realize you were interested in studying pediatrics? What inspired you?
I remember very clearly I first wanted to be a physician before my family arrived in the US when I was 5. My brother stepped on a rusty nail in a refugee camp in Indonesia and a physician cared for him. The relief and comfort I saw in my mother’s eyes was invaluable.
I had always wanted to be a physician, but it wasn’t until the last year of medical school that pediatrics was where my heart resided. I grew up in a town of 10,000 and wanted to be the town physician. However, the task of caring for 0-100yo seemed daunting. 0-21 was achievable and I knew I could be effective at my job. In my rotations, the pediatrics rotations (surgery, oncology, anesthesia, NICU, newborn nursery) interested me and the kids just made me smile, even when we had to be there at 4am and leave at 11pm.
How did South Slope Pediatrics come to be?
I like to attribute the merit to my daughter. Four years ago my husband was at the playground in Prospect Park with our then 10 month old daughter, who, while playing with other babies, grabbed a toy from two adorable twins and started crawling away from the group. When she returned the toys, my husband started a conversation with the twin’s mom about what our dreams were and how we were looking to open my private office. We ended up leasing her property on 5th avenue after 5 months.
South Slope Pediatrics came to be because I wanted to realize a professional dream of running a progressive, service-oriented office without the constraints of larger institutions priorities where family is the focus and relationships are the tools we use to help parents through their amazing, and at the same hard, journey.
What brings you the most joy, as a doctor?
As a doctor, I enjoy watching the parents grow – yes, the parents. I love to see the fear and overwhelmed, sleep-deprived feeling being replaced by a “we got this” confidence and knowing that we helped to bring that about.
Do you have certain experiences as a pediatrician that have affected you which you can share?
The experiences I have had as a physician that mold me involve losses. The first hour I spent in the NICU involved CPR on an extreme preemie that did not make it. My last night as a student in pediatrics involved staying up with a 7 year old boy with AML that passed way too soon. These experiences gave me perspective for my approach to general parenting/doctoring.
What are your other interests? Many of us have seen you running Prospect Park at lightning speed…
Well, first of all, LOL and thank you. I really enjoy running. It helps me focus and stay in shape. I play tennis (I love playing with my 5 year old daughter whose backhand looks very promising). I also play volleyball, I’m into gardening, I could spend hours fishing and snorkeling … and have a soft spot for garage sales.
As a beloved pediatrician and father, do you have any wise words or advice to share with us parents?
As a parent, my biggest advice is to not ‘over-parent’. I say this in a lot of my meet and greets with expecting parents. We all shoot for an A+ and the kids don’t care and are no better when be achieve a B. Kids need to be given the space and opportunities to fall/fail. End your day knowing you did your best and your child appreciates and loves you for it. No one has been perfect and no one expects you to be the first!