Clinic appointments provide the perfect opportunity for your health-care team to ensure you are progressing well with your IBD and are developing appropriate disease self management skills – important skills you will need when you transition into adult care. Your clinic appointments are also a great chance for your gastroenterologist (GI) to share treatment recommendations or new discoveries in IBD.

Making clinic appointments

In many cases, the GI’s office will schedule clinic appointments and leave a voicemail message or send an e-mail with the date and time. However, knowing when you need to make an unscheduled clinic appointment is a learned skill. When you are younger, a parent or caregiver will make the majority of these appointments.

But it is important to learn how to assume this responsibility before you transition to adult care. Try to make clinic appointment calls together with your parent. Let them teach you how to place the call, what information you need to give to the clinic when making the appointment and where to record the information.

Preparing for appointments

Regular GI visits are essential in managing your IBD and can ensure you have the most effective treatment plan. Because clinic appointments can be short, and there’s often a lot of informa-tion to cover, it’s best to come prepared to maximize your time with your GI.

To prepare for a clinic appointment, it can be helpful to review some of the following questions:

  1. Are there any significant or unusual changes in your health since your last visit?
  2. Are you planning to travel away from home for an extended period of time? This may require a medical travel letter, plans to secure medications while abroad and immunizations.
  3. Are you, or are you thinking about, becoming sexually active? Certain medications reduce the effectiveness of some forms of birth control and can cause serious harm to a growing fetus.
  4. Have you been adherent to your medication/medical treatments? If you have not been taking your medication as prescribed and you are having symptoms, it is very important to mention this to your GI. If not, your doctor may assume that the treatment either needs to be increased or it isn’t working and needs to be changed. In addition, your GI may be able to come up with different treatments or strategies that better suit your lifestyle and that you will be more likely to stick with.

Managing your IBD is a team effort and honest communication is at the heart of this relationship. Sharing important details will help your GI know exactly how your IBD is affecting you, and what treatments and interventions are necessary to keep you in remission so you can enjoy the best of health.

To read more articles, visit the latest edition of our magazine, You, Me and IBD.


We thank Dr. Anthony Otley for his help in the creation of this article. Dr. Otley is a Professor of Paediatrics and Medicine at Dalhousie University. He is the Division Head of the Division of Gastroenterology & Nutrition at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.