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By Merin C. MacDonald | Date published: February 2, 2024

Retreat for Primary Care Track Residents to Focus on Gender-Affirming Care

Each year the Primary Care Track of the Internal Medicine Residency holds an off-campus retreat for residents to learn about and discuss a topic of particular importance and relevance to their training. This full-day event is a unique opportunity for them to step outside the clinical setting to engage in meaningful dialogue together and with invited speakers. This year’s retreat, to be held in March, will focus on gender-affirming care.

Elizabeth Murphy, MD, program director of the Primary Care Track and associate professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine, is organizing the retreat and chose this topic for a variety of reasons. “I've had residents in the past who have told me that [a patient] opened up to them in a visit and said, ‘I want to live my life as a different gender,’ and they were afraid or didn't know what to say or do,” said Dr. Murphy. “We want to make sure that our residents, if presented with this situation, can provide care that is supportive and warm—and even if they don't have all the answers, they know where to go to find them. That’s my main goal.”  

This year’s retreat will feature Stephen Dunn, DO, a graduate of the Internal Medicine Residency at UMass Chan, primary care physician, and director of medical education at Fenway Health in Boston, who will speak about primary care for  LGBTQI patients including health screening for transgender patients and prescribing hormones to transgender patients. Speakers will also include patients and family members, Joy Lee, PhD, a researcher from PQHS, and Nadine Smith, a speech and language pathologist who cares for transgender patients. Dr. Murphy is currently working to finalize additional guest speakers including physicians, researchers, and other members of the UMass Chan/UMMH community.

As she plans this day, Dr. Murphy is grateful for the support she has received from leadership in the Department of Medicine, in particular, Deborah Blazey-Martin, MD, MPH, vice chair for ambulatory affairs in the Department of Medicine, chief of General Internal Medicine, and associate professor of medicine. “Dr. Blazey-Martin has been incredibly supportive as we build this program into the track,” said Dr. Murphy. 

Dr. Murphy is passionate about gender-affirming care in her roles as a physician, educator, and advocate but, most importantly, in her role as an aunt. “One of the reasons that I'm so interested in this is that I have a transgender niece, and before I experienced her transition, this was extremely foreign to me,” said Dr. Murphy. “I watched my niece be so sad as the little boy that she was born as and always knowing that she was a girl… and [now that she has transitioned] is a spectacularly beautiful person in all aspects. For me, that was the most transformative thing. If I can help other providers who have not experienced the positive impact when someone can safely and effectively transition, then that is an important goal for me.”