“Medicine is truly a careful mix of science and art. Your grasp on the sciences may make patients want to hear from you, but it is your relationship and care for them that will make them stay engaged.”
Dr. Shing (Ben) Cheng can relate to his primarily low-income, often immigrant patients. He was one himself, once. The experience of receiving subpar healthcare as a child is behind his passion to provide the highest standard of care to his patients today. In this brief interview, he describes why he chose MLKCH, what new residents will gain by training here, and the kind of doctor he hopes to help nurture.
Why were you drawn to working at MLKCH or what makes you want to stay long terms at MLKCH?
I was really attracted to the multi-specialty medical group aspect and the mission of MLKCH to give medical care access to those at greatest need in Los Angeles. It made me feel that my primary care services would make the most impact in this community. Not only are our colleagues willing to go out of their way to see and care for patients, but we also are very accessible to each other for consults or just a pep talk. I also really enjoy contributing ideas to this growing practice and the direct communications we have with our medical director. The combined inpatient and outpatient duties also makes my work as an internist more invigorating and fun.
What are some essential values you would like to pass on to the residents joining MLK?
Beyond medical knowledge and clinical know-how, I want residents to stay intellectually curious and grow from open discussions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And I hope to encourage residents to hone their skills as patient advocates and communicators. Medicine is truly a careful mix of science and art. Your grasp on the sciences may make patients want to hear from you, but it is your relationship and care for them that will make them stay engaged. Patient engagement = positive health outcomes.
What type of physicians would you hope our residents would become?
I want my residents to become the type of physician who is confident in their medical decision-making but also balances that with a little bit of self-doubt, enough to take a second glance and expand their differential. I want them to learn from mental traps and biases (i.e. anchoring, confirmation bias, or premature closure). I want them to stay interested in learning and be genuine caregivers for patients.
What differentiates MLK from other residency program?
Fantastic faculty to resident ratio (1 to 1) with “real-life” medical practice and opportunity for satisfying doctor-patient relationships in an underserved community.
Why did you want to be a core faculty member?
It would feel very satisfying to instill great, lasting principles in growing learners in medicine and reinforce my own learning through this process.
How will our residency program benefit the community of South Los Angeles?
It is the hope that this residency program will groom clinically sound and highly compassionate training physicians that can return to this community as full-fledged practitioners. It will contribute greatly to the building of an academic hub here in South LA and reinforce the idea that we can offer high-quality care and great doctors here.
What do you do outside of practicing medicine, to stay healthy – physically, mentally, emotionally?
I like to try out new food spots, go hiking, play with my cat, and watch NBA playoff basketball!
Where do you draw your inner strength from to give your best to the patients?
Repeated self-reminders of how lucky I am to do this line of work, and the fulfilling relationships I have with some of my patients. Every now and again, you have to take a full stop and reset your perspective.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. I came to the US at age 5 (born in Hong Kong). Moved from NY to LA to be part of this MLKCH family in Sept 2019.