Want to be an IBD nurse specialist?

Find out if you have what it takes for a career as an IBD Nurse Specialist.

The effective management and treatment of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis requires an expert level of knowledge from a dedicated IBD Nurse Specialist.

As well as providing clinical care for patients, an IBD Nurse Specialist is a mentor, emotional supporter and an advocate for an end to stigma and better care.

Your responsibilities

As an IBD Nurse Specialist, you’ll provide expert clinical care and management of your patients’ conditions. You’ll also need to help educate others and conduct research to make sure you’re informed of the latest developments in IBD care.

Typical IBD Nurse Specialist duties include:

  • Running follow-up, rapid access and telephone clinics
  • Providing in-patient support
  • Managing an immunosuppression service
  • Administration and monitoring of anti-TNF therapy
  • Providing nutritional advice
  • Providing education and counselling
  • Developing and defining IBD services
  • Liaising with a multidisciplinary IBD team
  • Performing endoscopy
  • Co-ordinating colorectal cancer surveillance for IBD patients.

Working as an IBD specialist nurse is an incredibly rewarding job. You really get to know your patients, you get to watch them through their journey and when you manage to make a difference to people's lives you just can’t really put that into words.

Lisa Younge
Lead IBD Nurse Specialist

Your mindset

Crohn's and Colitis are challenging conditions and having the right attitude is essential. Crohn's and Colitis are both emotionally and physically demanding for patients, and connecting with your patient is an important part of the support you provide.

To thrive as an IBD Nurse Specialist, you will need to be:

  • Motivated and enthusiastic
  • Sensitive to patients’ needs
  • Assertive
  • Approachable
  • Flexible
  • Self-aware
  • Sociable
  • Culturally aware
  • Reflective
  • Open to criticism
  • Confident
  • Resilient

You will also need to have an appreciation and open-mindedness for the effects that the disease can have on areas like self-esteem, sexuality, body image and social isolation.

Common sense, compassion and a good sense of humour are essential qualities in an IBD Nurse Specialist.

I still learn new things every day from patients, so it's important to realise that everyone's nursing journey is different. Everyone has a lot of background before going into the IBD field, but a lot of those skills are transferable and there's not one particular pathway that you have to follow.

Niamh McCabrey
IBD Nurse Specialist

On the front line

Crohn’s & Colitis UK work closely with IBD Nurse Specialists to promote better care and an end to the stigma that surrounds IBD. We’ve come a long way, and nurses are often on the front line of our campaigns.

Campaigning for better IBD care could involve:

  • Promoting and providing complete care for patients with IBD
  • Recognising the importance of health promotion
  • Promoting positive attitudes towards IBD and its associated stigmas
  • Working as an advocate and champion for patients
  • Recognising and respecting culture and diversity
  • Working as an innovator within the specialty and promoting positive change
  • Striving for better care for patients with IBD
  • Acting as a role model for other healthcare professionals
  • Working with medical colleagues and other members of the multidisciplinary IBD team.

To get a good idea of the daily life of an IBD Nurse Specialist, take a look at our blog following a week in the life of Sister Kay.

Further Reading