Father-daughter physician team work together to provide care at James Bay UPCC

One Victoria family physician is getting to experience something most parents will never know – working alongside his adult daughter, who is also a doctor.

“I am so proud that she is here with me,” said Dr. Amarjit Nirwan.

Dr. Sonya Nirwan had been working in Ireland since completing her education there in 2019. Recently, she moved back to her hometown of Victoria, accepting a position at the James Bay Urgent and Primary Care Centre (JBUPCC) where her dad has worked for the past two years since retiring from his family practice. 

“I needed a change, the stars aligned and seeing how happy my dad was at the UPCC helped me make the decision to move back to Canada,” she said. “After listening to my dad’s stories and knowing the difference he is making in the community, it seemed like a great time to make the transition.”

Dr. Nirwan Senior works at the UPCC for several hours a week which allows him to continue practicing medicine while still enjoying retirement. On Tuesdays, he and his daughter have the opportunity to work together, something that brings them both much joy.

“Recently, I even consulted with Sonya about one of my patients. It was such a pleasure to see her examine the patient and provide such wonderful care – it made my heart warm,” said Dr. Nirwan.

Dr. Sonya Nirwan became visibly emotional upon hearing her dad’s proud words. 

“It was the first time where we were able to interact on a professional level, so when he asked me to look at his patient, I initially thought “oh my gosh!” But then we both went into doctor mode,” she said. “I felt so honoured that Dad was asking for my medical advice.”


Pictured: Dr. Amarjit & Dr. Sonya Nirwan at James Bay UPCC

Sonya and her sister grew up visiting their dad’s clinic, spending time with his medical office assistants and getting to know his patients. 

“My sister and I thought that hanging at Dad’s office was the coolest thing ever. We couldn’t wait to get there. I remember seeing patients going in and out of the exam rooms and my dad with his stethoscope,” she said. “When it came time to figure out what I wanted to do for a career there was never a doubt that it was always going to be medicine.”

As a long-time family physician who ran his own practice for many years, Dr. Amarjit Nirwan is a huge fan of the UPCC team-based model and is thrilled that his daughter gets to experience it first-hand. The two physicians are part of a team that has doubled physician full time equivalent (FTE) positions from 3.1 to 6.2 FTEs in the past year.

“While I always thought Sonya would eventually take over my practice, she is so fortunate to be able to practice medicine in this way. She doesn’t have to deal with the business side of things – all she does is care for patients which is a dream job for any doctor,” he said.

“Here I get to wear the longitudinal care hat and the urgent care hat and I have never had that experience. In Ireland, it was either emergency medicine or family practice and there wasn’t really an in between,” said Dr. Sonya Nirwan. “The way this place is run, I’ve never seen anything like it. The standard of care, the resources, the dedicated team…it’s a joy to come to work.”

JBUPCC manager, Jo-Anne Beeren-Parsons is delighted that both Dr’s Nirwan have joined the team. As someone with a breadth of health-care experience, Beeren-Parsons has never worked with a set of parent-child physicians.

“It’s such a special story that it sends goosebumps down my arms –it’s one thing to have family members work together in the same city, but for someone to make this journey from overseas and do everything Sonya needed to do to get here is quite remarkable,” she said. “It really speaks to their family bond.”

“Honing my skills and trying to figure out what I look like as a family physician here in Victoria is exciting to me, especially in this collaborative environment,” said Dr. Sonya Nirwan. “Spending Tuesdays alongside my dad is a pretty great thing, and collaborating and enjoying this time with him is just so special. We are both grateful.”