The Ohio State University Alumni Association

‘Smilin’ Jim’ Kasten has delivered more than 12,000 babies, most of them in Norwalk, Ohio.

Jim Kasten

These Norwalk Middle School students are among the more than 10,000 people Dr. Jim Kasten has brought into the world in Norwalk, Ohio.

Delivering babies has been a great profession for a guy whose med school classmates called Smilin’ Jim. And today, Jim Kasten ’82 MD has more than 12,000 reasons to grin.

Kasten lives just 90 seconds from the only hospital in Norwalk, Ohio, and last year he celebrated his 10,000th delivery there — a figure equivalent to more than half of the city’s population. Include the infants he welcomed into the world during a residency in Indianapolis and he’s surpassed 12,000 deliveries.

How does that compare with other docs, you ask? Well, in 30 years of practice, Kasten has averaged 340 deliveries per year, more than twice the national average of 140 deliveries cited by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

On breaks from his busy practice, Kasten enjoys spending time with his wife, Susan, and their kids — James Jr. (whom he delivered), Victoria and Olivia. He’s also a marathon runner and a member of the award-winning Rhythm-N-Rhyme barbershop quartet.

Dr. Kasten recently took time from his busy schedule to answer a few questions for Ohio State Alumni magazine.

What made you decide to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology?

It is a happy specialty. You’re dealing with patients who are committed and eager to do the right thing, so when you tell your patient, “You need to do this” or try to get compliance from your patient, they’re more than happy to do so because it’s in the best interest of their unborn child. You get a real high rate of smoking cessation, they stop drinking, they start eating right and a lot of things happen positively from a medical standpoint, all to the benefit to their child as well as their own health.

What are the primary emotions you experience in the delivery room?

Excitement, joy and expectation.

What advice do you have for the spouse in the room?

If you feel the least bit woozy, sit down. It seems the bigger and tougher the guy, the more likely he is to hit the ground.

What advice do you have for expectant mothers?

Be happy and realize that Mother Nature is going to take care of you.

How does it feel to know your hands have been the first to touch 12,000 people walking around in the world?

Each birthing experience is different; each has its own set of nuances. The interaction between the parents, cutting the cord and the baby’s first breath are what give variety, relief and joy. I liken it to the high that you get after running a marathon.

Name a favorite Ohio State memory.

Before I got married, I did my radiology rotation. My roommate at the time and I would go together [and do] a lot of sitting in a dark room and reading x-rays. After several hours of looking at that, we would find time, usually after lunch, to go play golf at the university course. So every day the month before I got married, I played golf. For the 30 years following that, I played a total of 27 holes!