SAN FRANCISCO − When choosing a career path, the expectations of a parent can be a highly influential factor, as was the case for Dr. Ka-Wing Chew. By selecting a vocation that struck a balance between honoring parental expectations and fulfilling his personal aspirations, he was able to achieve an optimal level of success. “While still in high school, I started thinking about my options for a future career,” he remembers. “I’d always enjoyed working with my hands, but my father expressed a desire for me to be in a profession. Dentistry seemed to be a field that would satisfy both my interests and my father’s wishes, so I decided to become a dentist.”
Since founding Richmond Neighborhood Family Dental in 1992, Dr. Chew says his favorite part of dental work continues to be helping his patients look and feel their best. “I get great satisfaction from meeting the needs of my patients, whether they’re experiencing pain or have cosmetic issues. I have patients who tell me, ‘I try not to smile because my teeth look bad.’ After I’ve corrected the problem, they see their beautiful smile in the mirror and their faces just light up, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than the feeling that gives me.”
Originally from Hong Kong, Dr. Chew came to the United States when he was 11 years old and has resided in his adopted home of San Francisco ever since. Having spent four years attending dental school in Chicago, he says the Bay Area climate can’t be beat. “San Francisco can be cold, but compared to Chicago, it’s paradise.” Dr. Chew also appreciates the cultural diversity found within the city. “We have so many different neighborhoods in San Francisco, from Chinatown to Haight-Ashbury, and it’s neat to go from one area to the next and enjoy the unique things each has to offer.”
Outside of work, Dr. Chew engages in a variety of hobbies that include fishing in the San Francisco Bay and building computers. “Ever since childhood, I’ve enjoyed putting things together, and I’ve since applied that to computer technology,” he says. “I recently needed a new computer at my office, so instead of buying one, I built it myself.” In addition to his personal interests, Dr. Chew enjoys spending time with his wife, Connie, as well as keeping up with his two children, Renee and Brian, both of whom are pursuing their respective academic goals at California colleges.
In regard to his career, Dr. Chew says there’s only one way to treat patients: like family. “There’s no other way about it. Regardless of who’s sitting in my chair, I make it a point to treat that person with the utmost compassion and give them the same level of care I’d give to a close friend or family member.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Dr. Chew says he’d take a few days to relax before embarking on his next dentistry-related venture. “After resting a bit and maybe going on a fishing trip, I’d look into doing some volunteering, whether teaching at a dental school or helping out at a local health center. That would enable me to both give back to my community and keep myself occupied.”