Quesnel is getting two new dentists next week.
Husband and wife team Sonny Phangura and Aman Shoker will be taking over the West Park Dental Clinic when the current dentist, Branko Cervienka, retires on Monday, June 3.
Phangura, who went to school at UBC, is originally from Quesnel. He later met Shoker, who attended the University of Saskatchewan.
The pair have spent the past few years working as associates at a dental practice in Victoria, while keeping an eye out for practices coming available in the north.
Shoker says even before the pair got married, Phangura was hoping to take on a practice back home. “This was the perfect timing,” she says.
“We were always looking for a practice,” adds Phangura. “We heard that Dr. Cervienka is retiring, so we came and checked it out — and it was everything we wanted to have.
“And my family is still up here, so it was an easy move for me.”
The pair say people have been recognizing Phangura all over town and he says it’s nice to see familiar faces as well. His parents still live in the area: his mother works at the Rec Centre and his father for the City Yard.
His younger brother Jesse also came back to the North and lives nearby, working in the Prince George Hospital, while his older brother Kelly moved south.
Many people the couple run into have already heard they were coming, while others they ran into coincidentally. For example, a hygienist at their practice worked with Phangura years earlier, at Walmart. Now, both will be working together at the clinic.
“I’m excited [to be back],” says Phangura. “I’ve got some friends up here, and I like to be back on the Mainland. I wasn’t a huge fan of being on the Island, just because I feel a little bit isolated … It’s great — being closer to family, and buying our practice was even more affordable here. It’s awesome.”
Shoker, unlike Phangura, was born in Langley and raised in Calgary. Although she’s used to life in bigger cities, she says she’s really enjoying the pace of things in Quesnel. “It’s relaxing here,” she says.
They both enjoy hiking and are looking to do more of it here, as well as spending some time on the water at Dragon Lake and the Cottonwood River this summer.
The couple have been back in Quesnel for a month, as they prepare to take over their new practice. Although they’ve both been working as dentists for a few years now, they say there’s a bit of a learning curve on the business side of things.
Cervienka is planning to help the new owners transition to that aspect of the job: “He’s going to show us the ropes and how to run the business end of dentistry,” says Phangura.
They take over the business on Monday, and will be keeping the same patients and staff — as well as accepting new patients.
“It’s the next step in out career,” says Phangura.
“And it’s really exciting,” adds Shoker.