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The Doctors Ng

In honor of National Doctor’s Day on March 30, meet 2 father-son Emergency Department physicians. 

David Ng, MD, has been a physician in the Emergency Department (ED) at the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center since 1986, and at the Kaiser Permanente Richmond Medical Center since 1996. This past August, his son, Timothy Ng, MD, started to work at the same East Bay medical centers… also in the ED.

Drs. David and Timothy Ng

“After his residency, I encouraged him to go out and interview everywhere, but he came back to Kaiser Permanente in the East Bay,” said the elder Dr. Ng, who is retiring at the end of this month after his nearly 33-year career.

“It’s true,” laughed his son, who finished his residency 8 months ago. “I came here because the environment and the team felt like a family.”

Look insideKP Northern California sat down with the father and son to learn more about their shared profession and dedication to Kaiser Permanente’s mission.

When did you each first know that you wanted to become a doctor? And then specialize in emergency medicine?

David: I first trained as a dentist. And then in my last year of an internship at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the head of the Otorhinolaryngology Department suggested that I consider going to medical school to widen my scope — so I did! During a rotation, I fell in love with emergency medicine. I loved the variety of work and that I can use my dental background to help patients, too.

Tim: In high school, I had a senior-year independent project. I didn’t know what to do, so my dad suggested I check out the hospital. I shadowed an orthopedic surgeon, and I really liked it, so I thought that I would go into that field. But that changed in medical school when, like my dad, I did a rotation in emergency medicine. I realized it’s more my style: It’s fast-paced and you typically can see immediate results.

What have you shared with one another about working in such a high-pressure, high-intensity place?

Tim: Dad taught me about scheduling and how to do everything correctly with coding. But most importantly, from day one, he’s been clear about how essential it is to have a team-based approach to your work.

David: We talk about treating patients individually and developing a rapport. And how important it is to work as a team, especially in a stressful situation like the ED. If you do this, your work will go smoothly, and patients will have the best experience and outcome.

Why did you choose Kaiser Permanente as the place where you wanted to practice medicine?

David: I was one of the first emergency medicine-trained physicians at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. And the organization wanted to recruit more emergency medicine-trained physicians, so I went out to different residencies to meet with doctors with this specific training — which was a novel concept because it was a new specialty. The organization encourages doctors to come here and make a difference. And Kaiser Permanente now has the reputation of being one of the best hospital systems in the country.

Tim: It was the reputation and the integrated system that attracted me. You’re so tied into everything — you can send out a referral from the ED, let’s say to the eye clinic, and that patient can be seen the same or next day.

What does it mean to practice medicine in the same hospital?

Tim: He’s always been Dad to me, but now that I’m here, I’m starting to hear all these stories that he’s never shared. One of our registration assistants told me that no matter now busy the ED is, my dad would always go up to her and say hi — without fail. That stuck with her the whole time she’s been here. There’s multiple stories like that — about how personable he is, how he makes everyone feel welcome and part of the group. He’s made such a positive impact on people, and they pass these stories on to me.

David: I tried not to influence Tim too much to come here. I really wanted him to be happy first and foremost. In the end, I think he made the right decision, and I’m so happy he’s part of the next generation of ED physicians that will continue to strengthen Kaiser Permanente.

When Dr. David Ng retires, he plans to spend more time volunteering with underserved populations in Burma, including the Rohingya people. And Dr. Tim Ng looks forward to a long and rewarding career at the Kaiser Permanente medical centers in the East Bay, just like his dad. Read more inspiring stories about Kaiser Permanente’s physicians.