As part of the 2023 PA Week Celebration, the North Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants (NCAPA) are highlighting NCAPA Members and PAs Going Beyond at every stage of their PA career, from being a Pre-PA to having been a practicing PA for over 20 years – and everything in between.
For the NCAPA’s Practicing PA Member Highlight, the NCAPA sat down with Christina Saldanha, PA-C, NCMP, a High Point University PA graduate, a North Carolina native, and the owner of her own practice.
Tell us about yourself!
I am Christina Saldanha, a practicing PA for 6 years, and I am located in Winston Salem, NC. I am originally from New York but I grew up in Fuquay-Varina, NC so I consider NC home. I am married to a physical therapist who specializes in orthopedics and chronic pain, and we have two lovely children.
A year and a half ago, I opened my own practice. My role is as a primary care provider for women with a special focus on menopause and sex medicine. I have spent a great deal of time post-graduation focusing on three areas of women’s health I feel are far too overlooked: sexuality, menopause, and maternal mental health. I am AASECT Certified Sexuality Counselor, Menopause Society Certified Practitioner, and Certified in Perinatal Mental Health.
Tell us about owning your own practice.
My practice is not a traditional medical practice, but rather a concierge medical practice. I see anywhere between 2-8 patients a day. Most days I see about 4-6 patients. I spent 90 minutes with new patients, and 30-60 minutes for follow ups. It is just me! I do all my own scheduling, labs, procedures, and administrative duties. I am busy!
What made you decide to be a PA? What encouraged you to apply to PA school?
I was a yoga teacher for several years, but I always knew I wanted to go into medicine. While I was figuring out my “next steps”, I was talking with my acupuncturist. I could not decide if I wanted to pursue allopathic medicine or Chinese medicine (acupuncturist, herbalist). My acupuncturist told me that if my goal was to help people, I would reach more people as a PA than an acupuncturist. This is what helped push me in that direction. I am glad I did, because I feel that our scope encompasses so many avenues of care for folks.
What is your favorite thing about being a PA?
We can do so much! The most beautiful thing to me is my practice has evolved to fit the needs of my community and support my passions in medicine. We are trained in all sorts of procedures, which makes me well rounded in my practice.
What made you want to become a member of the NCAPA? Do you believe NCAPA membership is valuable?
It’s not always what you know but who you know. I am a huge proponent of professional organization involvement to network and develop professional relationships. Specifically, for NCAPA, I think that we as PAs should be together, learning alongside one another. We can change the landscape of healthcare, but yet we can still be misunderstood regarding our potential for advancing patient care. Being united together can provide an avenue for advocacy and policy change.
How do you want the PA profession to change in the next 5 or 10 years?
I would love to see some additional changes around independent practice. As someone who has a very niche practice in menopause and sex medicine, I would like to think that my involvement in professional organizations and consultation groups counts for meaningful collaboration with experts in my field of specialty.
What are some of your passions/interests aside from being a PA?
I have a lot! I generally love life and new and challenging experiences. This doesn’t necessarily mean thrill seeking like jumping out of planes or hiking crazy trails. I mean learning a new hobby such as knitting, checking out a new local restaurant, traveling with family. I also love hot yoga and continue to teach and practice at a studio in my town.
And, if you weren’t a PA, what would you be doing instead?
I would be living in some Scandinavian country as a sex educator and yoga therapist.