Crosstown Dental Group’s newest dentist is fluent in Vietnamese and loves to cook.
Arkansas’ loss was Memphis’ gain with Dr. Tina Phan, Crosstown Dental Group’s new dentist.
The Bryant, Arkansas, native came on board at Crosstown Dental in July, fresh off a residency at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. But it was the lack of dental college options in her home state that brought Phan to Memphis in the first place.
“There’s no dental school in all of Arkansas, nor is there a vet school. It’s crazy,” said Phan. “I knew I wanted to stay in Memphis because I fell in love with the city while I was at UT. I thought I was going to go back to Arkansas, but Memphis won my heart.”
Though Phan grew up in Arkansas, she was born in Vietnam. Her family emigrated to the U.S. when she was five years old. Though most kids that age fear the dentist, Phan remembers a gentle dentist who offered free care to her family shortly after they arrived in the States.
“I thought, I want to be like him one day. I want to treat people the way you are supposed to be treated, like he did. That’s how dentistry impacted me,” Phan said.
While in dental school, Phan volunteered with an organization that offered free dental services to rural areas of Tennessee, and she participated in Mid-South Mission of Mercy, a two-day dental clinic for underserved and underinsured people living in Memphis.
“I came from a poor family, and that dentist provided free care for me, so I think it’s important to give back to the community,” Phan said.
Dr. Daniel Bird, who owns Crosstown Dental, said Phan’s background is an asset for the dental office since she’ll be able to better communicate with Vietnamese patients.
“She is fluent in both English and Vietnamese, and she’ll have the unique ability to communicate with that underserved population,” Bird said. “She will be able to help diagnose and communicate the issues with the Vietnamese population, as well as bringing some young energy to our dynamic team.”
When Phan isn’t helping patients with dental needs, she enjoys hiking with her dog, rock climbing at local climbing gyms, and cooking (which she uses as a “stress reliever”), and she leans toward Vietnamese, Thai, and Korean recipes. Phan’s dad taught her how to make a family pho recipe that’s been passed down for generations. Growing up, her dad was a hibachi chef, and she said she got her love of cooking from him.
“He loved to do the tricks and to entertain the guests. I remember him practicing the spins and twirls of the spatula on me,” Phan said.
Like the rest of Crosstown Dental’s staff, Phan will work in both the Crosstown and Highland offices. But she was already very familiar with Crosstown Concourse before she took the job. When she was in dental school, Concourse was her favorite place to study. She said she’d often stay “until the security guard kicked us out” at night.
“Don’t tell the others, but I think the Crosstown location is my favorite. You never get bored here. You meet fun people walking to work. I love all the interactions,” Phan said. “I love how open and big the space is, and everything about it is so unique because it used to be the old Sears building.”