You & Your Doctor

Your relationship with your healthcare team is an essential part of how well you manage Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC). As someone with Crohn’s or UC, your doctor and the rest of your healthcare team are there to help you manage your condition. It’s important to feel comfortable reaching out to them with your concerns so that your team can respond to your needs in a way that is helpful and supportive.

Here are a few ways to help communication with your team go more smoothly and ensure productive appointments:

Prepare for your appointments ahead of time by keeping track of your symptoms. Using a Doctor Discussion Guide can help.

Set treatment goals with your doctor and ensure you're checking in on them at each appointment.

Consider bringing someone along with you to your visit to help you remember what was said.

Did you know?

Because Crohn’s and UC can affect the eyes, skin, and joints, your healthcare team may need to include a rheumatologist and/or dermatologist––in addition to your gastroenterologist and other health professionals.

You and your healthcare team

An effective healthcare team works together to provide the best possible support—and that includes your own role in helping them support you. Each member of your healthcare team provides a valuable service, and your role is equally important. It's vital that you are open and honest about your condition and advocate for your own health in order to help you meet your treatment goals.

Your team may include the following people:

  • Gastroenterologist: A gastroenterologist leads the healthcare team and performs exams and tests, makes diagnoses, administers treatments and prescribes medications. Some gastroenterologists specialize in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)—something to consider when looking for a doctor.
  • Nurse: Some nurses may specialize in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis; registered nurses can give medical advice, do wellness checks and give vaccinations.
  • Nurse practitioner (NP): These are nurses with advanced training and education, who work in collaboration with doctors. NPs can manage overall care, order and interpret tests and procedures, and prescribe medication.
  • Nutritionist or dietitian: A nutritionist may or may not have university qualifications, while a dietitian has university qualifications and is usually licensed. Both are people who offer advice on therapeutic nutrition.
  • Physician assistant (PA): PAs are supervised by physicians; they manage overall care, order and interpret tests and procedures, and prescribe medication.
  • Psychologist (or a social worker/counselor): A professional who manages emotional and mental health.
  • Surgical team (if necessary)
  • Specialists: These may include doctors like rheumatologists and/or dermatologists (if you have extra-intestinal Crohn’s or UC symptoms)
  • Caregivers

Other people in a practice may include:

  • Receptionists and office staff: People who will typically make your appointments, request paperwork and insurance information.
  • Practice manager: Manage business and day-to-day operations; they may be able to answer financial questions.
  • Medical assistant: May take you to your exam room, record your vital information, note your symptoms and present that information to the doctor.

Getting the most from your appointments

Being well-prepared, knowing what to say, and remembering to follow up are helpful ways to manage your doctor visits.

Managing your appointments

Are you looking for a doctor?

Whether you’re looking to consult with a gastroenterologist for the first time, would like a second opinion, or are moving, you can search for a doctor in your area who specializes in IBD.

Find a gastroenterologist in your area

Advice from a GI specialist

Learn from Dr. Siegel about the cause of symptoms, how to talk to your doctor about your treatment goals, and how to make the most of your appointments.

Get started with Expert Advice

Get help describing your symptoms

To help you make every appointment with your gastroenterologist more productive, it helps to have a log of your symptoms and how they are affecting you over time.

Get the Doctor Discussion Guide

Basic Facts About Crohn’s or UC

Get a general overview of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, all on one page.

Crohn’s and Colitis 101

Understand Your Inflammation

Learn how it can play a role in your symptoms.

See Inside Inflammation

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