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Christina Pratt, PA-C (center), manager of Heart and Vascular Center advanced practice providers, with two of the 70 APPs she works with: Dana Morcaldi, APRN, nurse practitioner (left), and Ashley Franko McGannon, PA-C.   

Same field, different position: Employee embraces new opportunities to help her team

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

The saying, “home is where the heart is” means something a little different to Christina Pratt, PA-C.

Pratt has worked in cardiac surgery since starting her healthcare career as a nurse at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford. During her five years in that position, she decided she wanted to advance her education and career. 

The most common route for someone with Pratt’s background would be to earn a master’s in nursing and become a nurse practitioner. Instead, Pratt enrolled in a two-year physician assistant (PA) program at Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University. 

“I wanted to be more involved in surgery, and there were more advanced practice opportunities for PAs in that area,” she said. “As nurse, I had always been surrounded by PAs who were extremely skilled, and able to practice very autonomously in an intense environment.”

After graduating, Pratt joined Yale New Haven Hospital’s Cardiothoracic ICU in 2010. Years later, Matthew Gordon, PA-C, became clinical manager of the Heart and Vascular Center advanced practice providers (APPs) and a mentor to Pratt. He recognized Pratt’s clinical and leadership skills and often put her into a lead role in the CTICU. 

“At first, I didn’t envision myself in management, but my experience in the lead role gave me a taste,” she said.

She was recently promoted to HVC APP clinical manager, where she oversees 70 APPs in inpatient, surgical and procedural areas. 

“The biggest challenge I had when I became manager was that I had dedicated so much of my career to cardiac surgery, I wasn’t a content expert in the other areas,” she said. “With Matt’s mentorship, I learned that you don’t have to be a content expert to be a great manager.” 

With continued mentoring from Gordon, now executive director of business development and operations for HVC, Medicine, Transplant, and Radiology, Pratt has learned how to work with a variety of people in diverse roles who have different ideas. While challenging, her management experience is rewarding, and has made Pratt realize she wants to pursue a director position in the HVC.

“The parts I enjoy most are building teams, and participating in strategic recruitment,” she said. “Being a manager has given me the chance to be an advocate for all of the team members. I feel like I’m helping people in a much bigger way.”

Her advice to others considering a change in their careers: “The easiest route is not always the best route. Explore different avenues to get you to your ultimate goal.”