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After 13 years in one hospital role, employee reinvents herself


Part of a series about employees who have advanced in their careers and are filling new roles within Yale New Haven Health.

Erica Staggers loves her career as a Pharmacy medication history technician, but it took her awhile to find it.

For 13 years, she was a Yale New Haven Hospital patient transporter. She enjoyed interacting with patients in the role, however, she felt “there was always something in me that wanted to do more.” One day in 2019, Staggers saw a screen saver on the hospital’s Netpresenter system about YNHH’s Pharmacy Technician Training Program. 

“I told myself I was going to go for it,” she recalled.

Staggers knew it wouldn’t be easy. It had been a while since she had been in school and interviewed for a job, so she was a little nervous about the placement test and interview required for the Pharmacy Technician program. After she passed those and joined the program, she had five months of classes and on-site training. At the same time, she was working nights as a patient transporter and caring for her 4-year-old son. 

“Finding time to sleep was difficult. Finding time to study was also challenging,” Staggers said. “I had my notes with me during my night shifts and studied on my breaks.”

As part of the Pharmacy Technician Training Program, participants complete rotations to experience different technician roles in various departments. 

“When it was time to do the medication history technician rotation, I loved it,” Staggers said. “It allowed me to interact with patients.”

Since graduating from the training program and passing the Pharmacy Technician Training Board exam, she has been a licensed and registered certified pharmacy technician. Staggers primarily works in the YNHH Adult Emergency Department, where she verifies patients’ home medication lists. She interviews patients and calls physicians’ offices, skilled nursing facilities, pharmacies and other providers to update each patient’s record appropriately.

“There can be discrepancies in how and when patients take medications,” Staggers said. “We’re like detectives, trying to find these discrepancies and ensure the patient’s medication history is accurate.”

Her advice to others considering a career change is to have a plan and take advantage of YNHHS’ many resources. Staggers received help from the Institute for Excellence’s career counselors, who helped her find the right people in Pharmacy to talk to. She also observed and talked to pharmacy technicians she encountered throughout the hospital. They gave her insights into what the role was all about. 

Staggers’ most important advice for those seeking a career change is, “Stick with your plan. Don’t let the obstacles derail you; think about your long-term goals. It will all be worth it in the end.”