THE Bendigo Advertiser is continuing to publish a series of profiles on healthcare specialists working in Bendigo.
The Central Victorian Medical Recruitment Taskforce worked diligently to create a sustainable medical workforce in central Victoria and the Bendigo Advertiser is helping to spread the word about the expertise available in Bendigo.
MANNY Cao is at home in Australia but will never forget his Vietnamese origin.
The 32-year-old Bendigo general surgeon travelled to Australia by boat when he was two.
"I don't remember anything about it, I was too young," he said.
"But it was back in the late '80s after the war.
"My dad was a captain in the south Vietnamese army but lost the war.
"Then he was in prison for four years because they lost the war - the north won and basically put them in the camp.
"He met my mum and escaped to Australia.
"They live in Melbourne but they come here to Bendigo to visit me quite regularly."
Mr Cao moved to Bendigo from Melbourne as a final step in his training.
He initially had no intentions of staying, but fell in love with central Victoria.
"I have a private practice in Arnold Street and I also have an appointment at Bendigo Day Surgery and St John of God and Bendigo Health," he said.
"I started here as a fellow last year which is a P-plate consultant kind of role.
"I did 12 months of that as a staff surgeon and then they kept me on board because I liked it so much here.
"I was from Melbourne so I did all my training through the Western Hospital in Melbourne and basically landed the job here in Bendigo last year thinking I might go back to Melbourne at some stage.
"I liked it here so much that I decided to stay."
Mr Cao loves his job.
"First of all the colleagues are fantastic, being very supportive of me - in particular Graeme Campbell, who's mentored me and taken me into the private rooms and shared the rooms with me," he said.
"Also the work is very good, the patients are very nice and there's great diversity.
Then he was in prison for four years because they lost the war - the north won and basically put them in the camp.
"I've found that we can actually do a lot of the work here in Bendigo.
"I thought initially we'd have to send a lot of work to Melbourne but we are a major hospital centre so very little work gets sent to Melbourne and we can do most of the things here."
Mr Cao performs between 15 and 20 procedures a week.
"I do endoscopy which involves colonoscopy and gastroscopy, then I do a whole heap of minor procedures from skin legions, right through to major bowel cancer operations," he said.
Mr Cao said the calibre of healthcare in Bendigo was excellent and there were fewer reasons for people to seek healthcare in Melbourne.
Mr Cao said the new Bendigo Hospital project and St John of God Hospital Bendigo redevelopment would further enhance health services in the region.
"It speaks really highly in that we are evolving into a major centre and I think in the next five to 10 years we probably won't be sending any work at all to Melbourne," he said.
"Now we have the expertise here and all new surgeons coming on board, so they can provide a whole range of services.
"We don't have the reason to send the work to Melbourne.
"And certainly with my appointment there are a lot of my colleagues in Melbourne who are finishing up, who have expressed an interest to come here."
When Mr Cao is not working he enjoys a busy social life.
"I have an interest in fine dining and wine and there's not one restaurant that I haven't been to in Bendigo," he said.
"I really enjoy that.
"My favourite one is Rocks on Rosalind.
"I live above so I just go downstairs and the boys look after me. They make a good lobster pasta.
"I went through my training in Melbourne thinking that I'd go back and have a busy practice there in the eastern suburbs.
"But I guess after spending a few months here I decided this was for me and the work is much rewarding.
"It was both a professional and personal choice."
More information about the Central Victorian Medical Recruitment Taskforce and the work it did to bring specialists to Bendigo is available at www.cvmrt.com.au
Keep an eye on the Bendigo Advertiser's website at www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au for the next instalment in the profile series.
The Bendigo Advertiser is also continuing to publish a series of profiles on the various people involved in the multi-million-dollar new Bendigo Hospital project.