Whenever members of the Kasper family of Park Ridge get together one thing is certain – there will be always be a doctor in the house, maybe even two or three, along with a few nurses. In May 2015, David Kasper, following in the footsteps of his father, brother and two uncles, graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey at Rutgers, thus becoming the fifth doctor in the Kasper family. Although not a UMDNJ record, they rank as one of the largest family groups.
His father, Dr. Andrew Kasper, the first doctor in the family, credits his own mother with having created the medical dynasty. She served as a nurse during World War II. While assigned to a hospital in Richmond, Va., she tended to a man injured in a motorcycle accident. They ultimately married and moved to Bergen County where she became head of the coronary care unit at Pascack Valley Hospital. Her duties included reading EKG and other electronic diagnosis tests, which she did not understand.
“She told me to learn it and then teach her,” Andrew says. That stirred his interest in medicine. But what really ignited the medical spark was his being named least likely to succeed in his high school graduating class.
“That ticked me off,” he says.
Determined to prove that prediction wrong he applied to colleges offering pre-med programs. He got accepted, maintained a 4.0 grade point average, got into medical school and graduated first in his class.
Andrew is the oldest of seven children. His brothers, John and Joseph, followed him into medicine, as did three sisters who became nurses.
Dr. Joseph Kasper, the youngest, earned a college degree in computer science and wasn’t planning on being a doctor. While researching artificial intelligence medical diagnostics, he read a lot about chemistry, biology, diagnostics and probability. He discovered he was more interested in medicine than computers.
When older brother John, who also has a computer degree, found that out he too decided to go to medical school. “I think he did not want to be the only one that was not a doctor,” Joseph says. They attended med school at the same time and graduated in 1993.
Joseph has practiced internal medicine for 19 years. “What I like best about it is the relationship with my patients,” he says. He maintains a limited practice working alone in a small office in Saddle River. John also practices internal medicine in Ventnor City.
Growing up, medicine was a natural for Michael and his brother David. Their minor aliments were treated by their father or their uncles.
“I did not plan on medicine as a career,” Michael says. He was a business major in college. When his dad dropped him off at school he told him that if he wanted a guaranteed job he should think about medicine. That stuck with him. After awhile he decided to take some biology and chemistry courses and then switched to pre-med. Like his father, Michael specializes in cardiology and internal medicine. After graduating from medical school in 2005, he joined his father’s practice.
“He and my uncles have been a big help to me,” Michael says. “You only learn so much in med school, the basics, the foundations. They don’t teach all the other stuff.”
David is currently serving an internship at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and is expected to join his brother in the Saddle River Medical Group practice.
Meanwhile, their father, Andrew has retired, ending his 39-year career.
– Jerry Pervinich