The path to Salus University has taken Maria Boka, MSPAS, PA-C, to quite a few different places. She grew up in the Bahamas and lived there through high school. She then went to college at Savannah State University in Savannah, Georgia; secured her Physician Assistant master’s at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York; worked in family medicine in Texas; then moved to Connecticut with her husband.
Now, as of earlier this year, she’s here in the Philadelphia metro area as a new faculty member in the University’s Physician Assistant (PA) Studies
“I have been a preceptor in the majority of my jobs, so I have a good amount of experience working with students,” said Boka. “I realized that was something I really enjoyed doing, it was a very rewarding part of my day. So, I was looking for an opportunity where I could teach and work with students full-time.”
She said she did not previously have a chance to fully develop an interest in teaching clinically because she had so much clinical responsibility in past positions. A big part of what’s she doing at Salus involves working with the clinical team within the PA program. Since this was a career transition for her, her initial goal is to make sure the students are successful during their clinical year.
“Not only learning all the skills they need, but practicing those skills with the knowledge we’re teaching them,” said Boka.
While most of her career experience has been in a clinical setting, she is assisting didactically and has been adapting to being back in the classroom.
“I gave a lecture this semester, a comprehensive medical exam, on something that we as practitioners do every single day,” she said. “That’s something that’s so second nature to me, but I had to find a way to translate it to the students so that they could underhand it without overwhelming them. You have to remember the days when you were trying to figure this out.”
According to Boka, the environment in the PA program and the University overall has been supportive and friendly. She’s believes she is indeed part of a great team.
She also continues to work clinically at an urgent care per diem. This allows her to stay up-to-date and current on her clinical skills and knowledge, which she will inevitably pass on to her students.
“I enjoy being able to remain active in patient care,” she said.
In her leisure time, Boka’s full attention is being a mom. She and her husband Emeka, a psychiatry resident in Delaware, have a 15-month-old son Moses.
“My life outside of Salus is entirely wrapped around him. There really is no other hobby or interest at this time. He’s my hobby and interest,” she said.
Coincidentally, that’s another thing that she appreciates about being at Salus, the opportunity to have a work-life balance.
“I could definitely tell the difference moving from clinical to an academic position,” said Boka. “I was working 12-hour shifts and I would barely get time to spend with my son. He would be in bed when I came home.”
Now, she has the opportunity to get the toddler his breakfast before he goes off to daycare, and also has an opportunity to spend time with him before he goes to bed in the evening.
“It really is a good balance,” she said. “I realize how fortunate it is to work in a university setting when one has a family.”