Rockford Gastroenterology Associates - Story

      Nurse practitioner brings hospital experience to role at RGA

      Lorie Corcoran

      Lorie Corcoran worked with critically ill patients, including individuals navigating complex gastrointestinal (GI) conditions, when she joined Rockford Gastroenterology Associates (RGA) as a board-certified acute care nurse practitioner.

      Corcoran grew up near Milwaukee and graduated in 2003 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with her bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). She pursued medicine because she was "fascinated with how the human body works" and wanted a career that directly involved helping people.

      "Making a difference in someone’s life is important to me," she said. "That’s why I went down the path of nursing."

      After obtaining her BSN, she worked as a medical-surgical nurse at St. Luke’s Medical Center, then moved to a respiratory intensive care unit (ICU) while pursuing her master’s degree at Marquette University. She graduated from Marquette in 2011 with her master’s in nursing (MSN) and acute-care certification.

      Her first job as a nurse practitioner was at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Corcoran’s husband, Dr. Michael Corcoran, was born and raised in Rockford. He took a job at SwedishAmerican Hospital as a podiatrist, which brought her to this region.

      Corcoran said her in-laws helped guide her to possible employers, and RGA’s reputation topped the list.

      "I was so impressed with the interview process and when I met the doctors," she recalled. "I was impressed with RGA’s philosophy, the family atmosphere – everyone seemed so close, welcoming and positive. After talking with them, I felt like they chose to practice medicine for right reasons and the best outcome for patients is their ultimate goal. It was a good fit and exactly what I was looking for."

      Joining RGA

      Corcoran joined the RGA team in 2012, bringing experience of working with GI patients during her hospital work. While in Milwaukee, she worked with patients experiencing GI-related bleeding, end-stage liver disease and more.

      "I knew I really liked working with the GI doctors," she said. "I liked the variety and the challenges GI treatment offers – it’s a specialty with so many different aspects to it, whether it’s pancreatic, biliary, liver issues or issues like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)."

      At RGA, Corcoran works with patients at SwedishAmerican Hospital and OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center. She’s passionate about working in the inpatient setting.

      "It can be unpredictable. People come to you in a crisis – they’re nervous, apprehensive and worried because they don’t know what’s going on with their bodies," she said. "A lot of times, we’re the first line of defense. It’s our goal to help them understand what’s going on through explanation and education, to help ease their anxieties and listen."

      Corcoran has a special interest in caring for patients with liver disease because of the comprehensive and complex nature of the care. She works closely with RGA doctors and hospital staff to develop treatment plans.

      "It is a family environment at RGA, and everyone works together really well. The same applies to our relationships with the nurses, lab staff and teams at the hospitals. That sets us apart from a lot of other places," she said.

      Treating complex needs

      A typical day at the hospital has Corcoran checking in on new patients who were admitted overnight and other patients in need of care and following up with those individuals throughout the day.

      "We’re the first people to see the patients before the doctors, which allows us to have eyes on all the patients, make sure everyone is seen and we move quickly on any priorities," she explained.

      In addition to liver disease, Corcoran said she cares for many patients with pancreatitis or other pancreatic abnormalities and gallbladder issues. Some need tests such as ultrasounds and biopsies scheduled to help diagnose their conditions.

      "We’re discovering better treatments to medically manage our patients, but the care is still complex and challenging, and we’re there to help sort through the options with patients," she said.

      Away from work, Corcoran and her husband live in Rockford with their two children. They enjoy exploring local events such as Rockford City Market, good food and restaurants, and attending concerts. She volunteers with a group called Santas for All, which raises money to buy gifts for nursing home and extended-care residents.