What do IBD Nurse Specialists do?

IBD Nurse Specialists use their clinical expertise to provide information, education and support about any aspect of IBD or its treatment.

They are experts in gastroenterology and will be able to recommend, manage and monitor treatments for patients, as well as offering counselling on the impact of the disease on lifestyle and mental wellbeing.

Due to the unpredictable, relapsing nature of the disease, it is essential that patients have access, either over the phone or in person, to an IBD specialist at short notice. This ensures they receive the best rapid care, and eases pressure on primary care and the emergency services.

Typically, an IBD Nurse Specialist will:

  • run rapid access clinics and telephone clinics for IBD patients
  • run follow-up clinics
  • provide support for in-patients
  • run an immunosuppression service
  • administer and monitor anti-TNF therapy
  • provide nutritional support, IBD education and counselling
  • developing and defining IBD services
  • liaise with and manage a multidisciplinary team across departments
  • co-ordinate colorectal cancer surveillance for IBD patients.

What specialist knowledge do IBD Nurse Specialists have?

IBD Nurse Specialists' knowledge covers the clinical, psychological, sexual and social aspects of living with IBD.

  • In-depth knowledge of the gastrointestinal tract in health and disease.
  • Understanding of the causes and mechanisms behind IBD and associated conditions.
  • Understanding of the drugs used to treat IBD and how they work.
  • In-depth knowledge of medical and surgical treatment options in IBD.
  • In-depth knowledge of food and nutrition and its role in treating and managing the symptoms of IBD.
  • Ability to use knowledge to formulate and negotiate treatment plans with patients.
  • Ability to draw on knowledge and attempt to resolve complex issues with patients e.g. sexuality, pregnancy, altered body image, financial issues and employment.
  • Insight and experience of the effect of chronic illness on the individual with IBD e.g. loss of independence, loss of control, compliance and uncertainty, and also the effect on family members and carers.
  • Knowledge of IBD symptoms outside of the gut and their management.

Source: Roles descriptives for inflammatory bowel disease nurse specialists, 2007, Royal College of Nursing