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.
What has been the most helpful for managing IBD symptoms?