A pediatric neurologist, Kathleen Cardinale, MD, makes it a point to always talk to her patients first—even if the younger ones maybe don’t understand what kind of doctor she is.
“I might tell them I take care of their brain, or their head, and leave it at that,” says Dr. Cardinale, who has an interest in treating children with developmental disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy and spina bifida. “While it may be tempting to talk to the adults in the room, I always explain things to the child first.”
Dr. Cardinale says neurology is a natural fit for her. “I’ve known for a long time that I would do something with neuroscience. It’s fascinating to think about how we develop our personalities and how we think,” she says. “And I realized during my medical training how much I love kids and what joy they bring me, so it was easy to put the two together.”
Working with children and families who are struggling with a neurologic disability fulfilling, Dr. Cardinale says. “I love being there for a family. For example, a child with cerebral palsy may be in a wheelchair or need help feeding or have a multitude of other challenges,” she says. “That can be overwhelming and they need someone advocating for them. I enjoy supporting them, problem-solving and helping them connect with other specialists.”