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Elizabeth Corner, DNP—Making a difference

Liz CornerA recent graduate of URI College of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice, Elizabeth Corner, DNP chose an unusual subject for her thesis: “Breaking the Binary: Rhode Island Transgender and Gender Non-conforming Primary Care Education”. Her faculty advisor on the project was Dr. Denise Coppa, Ph,D, R.N.P.

While working on a clinical assignment at Hasbro Hospital she came in contact with Dr. Michelle Forcier, MD, a pediatrician who treated what Dr. Forcier calls “Sexual Minority Youths”. Dr. Forcier started the “Child and Young Adult Gender and Sexual Health Services Clinic,” of Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital. “It is the only gender clinic in Rhode Island and works with children, teens and adults who struggle with gender identity and sexuality issues.”

Liz knew several people who were transgender and subsequently learned that there was no single source for information and no real protocol for treating transgender people. It was a subject that had only recently come to national prominence and because of a lack of knowledge there was a stigma attached to people with the problem. In general adults, children and parents were afraid to go to the doctor and seek medical treatment. To help solve the dilemma, Liz has created as part of her thesis a web site that deals with transgender treatment and information: .

According to Liz, “The website was created out of a seen need for quickly accessible information for primary care providers that have transgender patients. It is intended to provide support in regards to medications, monitoring lab values, resources and support related to transgender healthcare.  This is further developed to provide local Rhode Island (and surrounding areas) resources and referrals. The primary purpose is to empower and support primary care providers who wish to provide competent and respectful care to the transgender community, with or without extensive experience in transgender healthcare. My project’s primary audience is Primary Care Providers, who have (or come in contact with) transgender patients in hopes of improving the healthcare and support of transgender patients. While there are several protocols that exist, they have conflicting ideas about different medical treatment regimens and what “is best”. The issue was that there didn’t seem to be a centralized location for the medical, social, mental health and legal support of transgender patients, especially in RI.

“Though many online resources are out there, this website serves to aggregate the best information across the web on hormone therapy, lab data, laws, creating a welcoming office environment, references, support networks and other pertinent evidence-based information.” “This information can serve either experienced transgender healthcare providers, or those that are new to the field, and will allow us to increase delivery of healthcare for all. Hopefully this website will provide support and encouragement for Rhode Island primary care providers to welcome the transgender community to their practice and help this community overcome the barriers to competent and respectful healthcare.”

Liz attended Northeastern for her BS in Nursing and worked in CCU at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City. She has also been a nurse care manager for elderly, homebound patients in NYC.  She had almost finished her Master’s Program when she moved to Rhode Island, where she worked in Urgent Care and Rehabilitation and Alzheimer’s Disease Care. She currently works in interventional radiology and telemetry. Liz attended an open house at URI College of Nursing in hope of finishing her Masters and discovered that she would be able to transfer her credits and earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice in about the same time it would take to finish her Masters. She trained for a year at the Hasbro clinic and will be taking a job in Thundermist’s Quick Care Clinic, in hopes of being accepted to their residency program in the fall. The Thundermist Community Health Centers have a lot of Federal support and Liz hopes to expand her work in the transgender field while still working as a Nurse Practitioner treating all kinds of patients at the three facilities.

Liz notes that, “Earning a DNP has opened a lot of opportunities for different jobs and perhaps even teaching other nurses”. She was “amazed at the awe inspiring teaching and hard work put in by her teachers at URI.” One of the things she was most impressed with was the closeness of the students and faculty where she made a lot of friends. “The smaller class sizes compared to Northeastern brought everyone together”. Now Liz’s goal is, “To be part of the discussion in serving the underserved population of transgender patients.” The web site created for her DNP is a definitely a positive step in achieving that goal.

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