First Choctaw Nation Health System Physician Assistant Celebrates 33 Years

DURANT, Okla. August 11, 2020 - Mary Boerner has been a Certified Physician's Assistant (PA-C) for 33 years with the Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority. Her career has spanned three decades, two hospitals, and many babies born within the Choctaw Nation.

Boerner remembers working rotations in 1986 at the old hospital. "The building was old and frequently had power outages," making caring for the patients challenging. There were seven doctors employed for the entire hospital. Each rotated through the emergency room (ER) at night to ensure the emergencies were taken care of promptly. Through all these challenges, she fell in love with rural medicine and the impact she had on people’s lives.

Upon finishing her degree, Boerner decided she wanted to stay with the Choctaw Nation and had to sell the hospital administrators on having physician assistants. The hospital added her and another physician assistant to the staff and immediately scheduled them for rotation through the ER to help the doctors. They worked night shift in the ER for two weeks, then switched to working days in the clinic for the next two.

The administrators recognized the struggle and dedication this took, approaching Boerner after a year and a half and offered tuition help if she stayed for three years. Thinking there was no way she would stay that long, she pressed ahead and thoroughly surpassed the expectations.

After five years, Boerner transferred to Women's Health, where she has been ever since. She loves the patient interaction she gets every day at work and is now seeing babies born from mothers she helped bring into this world. "We practice medicine. It evolves and changes regularly." If she were to advise someone starting in medicine today, she'd simply say "buckle up."

If she had to do it all over again, she "wouldn't change a thing." With the belief and drive that women should take care of each other; she will continue doing just that – taking care of the women who step through her door.