My Journey into Seeing an IBD Specialist

Last updated: January 2020

For a long time, I didn't realize there was a difference between a gastroenterologist and an actual IBD specialist. I assumed that because I was seeing a gastroenterologist, or "GI," that my doctor specialized in inflammatory bowel disease. After all, he does deal with the digestive system.

IBD specialist vs. gastroenterologists

Years after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I learned he wasn't. In fact, I learned that not only was my current doctor not an IBD specialist, but I'd never seen a doctor who specialized in inflammatory bowel disease. Not in the past, nor present. This did bother me quite a bit. I love my doctor and his team. But I questioned why patients living with inflammatory bowel disease wouldn't be referred to a doctor who specializes in their condition if they're available. Another thing I was wrong about.

Access makes it difficult for patients to see a specialist

After learning of these doctors who live, breathe, and treat only patients living with forms of inflammatory bowel disease, I learned exactly why more IBD patients aren't seeing them: Access. Beyond the fact that a lot of patients, like me, have no idea the doctor they see does not actually specialize in their condition, there's another huge factor at hand. A lot of patients don't have access to these doctors. Whether it's location, insurance coverage, or in my case: both. Some patients simply do not have access to a specialist.

Gastroenterologists aren't the enemy

Contrary to how it may sound, gastroenterologists aren't the enemy.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

What has been the most helpful for managing IBD symptoms?