Finding Your IBD Care Team

Finding Your IBD Care Team

Learning you have Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is the start of a complex physical and emotional journey. 

While your journey is uniquely your own, a wealth of professionals are available to support and help you manage your condition.

Building your IBD care team is a top priority, as they can help you understand and choose the best treatment options and answer your most pressing concerns.

Watch the video: Finding Your IBD Care Team

Who Needs to Be A Part of Your IBD Care Team?

Your ideal IBD care team consists of a multidisciplinary medical team that will work closely with one another to ensure you receive the safest, most consistent, high-quality personalized care.

These are some of the essential members of your healthcare team.

Primary Care Doctor

Having a trusted primary care doctor will help you maintain your overall health. When your symptoms first manifest, they will review them and run different tests to pinpoint the cause. 

If they suspect you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, two of the main IBD conditions, they will refer you to a gastroenterologist for further testing.


Gastroenterologists are physicians who specialize in treating diseases affecting your digestive system. There are different specializations within gastroenterology, so it’s vital to choose a doctor specializing in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Your gastroenterologist will be your primary point of contact. They will prescribe treatment and monitor your disease progression. They will suggest changes in your disease management, including the introduction of biologics.

Depending on how your disease progresses, they may refer you to other specialists, including colorectal surgeons, dieticians, and mental health professionals.

Colorectal Surgeons

GI surgeons specialize in rectum and colon surgical procedures. Although not everyone with IBD will need surgery, some patients who develop severe complications can greatly benefit from colorectal surgery, which can help improve symptoms and quality of life.

Your gastroenterologist will refer you to a GI surgeon should you need it.

Finding Your IBD Care Team


Having a registered dietician on your healthcare team is vital as they assess your nutritional needs and create a customized dietary plan for you to follow.

Their recommendations can ensure you receive the nutrition and hydration needed to stay healthy and determine which foods to avoid to prevent symptom flare-ups.

Mental Health Professionals

When we think of chronic diseases, we tend to focus on the physical effects of the illness. However, living with a chronic condition can also take a toll on your mental and emotional health.

Mental health professionals, including psychologists, therapists, and social workers, can help you cope with lifestyle changes and the increasing limitations IBD can carry.

As part of your IBD care team, they can help you improve your ability to cope with chronic pain and support healthy behaviors, which can reduce the risk of flare-ups.

Infusion Nurses

Infusion nurses are an essential part of the healthcare team for any patient taking biologics. These caring and skillful professionals ensure you safely receive your biologic infusion treatments. Additionally, they monitor your reaction during and immediately after your infusion and act quickly in case of any adverse effects.

Your infusion nurse is also an excellent educational and support resource.

Finding the Right IBD Specialist for Your Needs

Usually, your primary care physician will refer you to a gastroenterologist if they feel you may have IBD. There are also online resources to find an IBD specialist near you.

You can use the resources provided by these organizations:

American College of GastroenterologyFind a Specialist 
Crohn’s and Colitis FoundationFind a Specialist

When deciding on a gastroenterologist, consider the following questions:

  • Do they work with your insurance provider?
  • Is their office in a safe and convenient location near you?
  • How quickly can they schedule an appointment?
  • Do they offer in-office biologic infusion treatments?

Once you’ve decided on a specialist, prepare for your first appointment. Write down your questions, including treatment options and what to expect.

Meeting your doctor for the first time can be overwhelming, so it’s always helpful to bring a family member or friend for support and help take notes.

It’s vital to realize that you are the most important component of your IBD care team. Therefore, ensure you feel comfortable asking your doctor questions and expressing your needs. 

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