Inflammatory bowel disease nurse specialists: sailing into a perfect storm?
As with many chronic diseases, there has been a rise in the prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (a group of disorders including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis) in recent years, rising to more than 5 million people worldwide (Meier, 2019). As well as increasing prevalence, the treatments of the condition have become more complex, with new approaches to therapy and monitoring developed. Consequently, the role of the IBD nurse specialist has emerged to support this patient group.
It is interesting to consider the evolution of IBD nursing over nearly two decades. In 2000, when I took up my first post as an IBD nurse specialist, there were seven nurses in post in the UK. Clinicians were enthusiastic about this new role and the impact it would have for the care that we deliver to patients. Since then the number of IBD nurse specialists has increased significantly, with more than 230 nurses now working in this role (Mason, 2017). The positive impact on patient care is undisputed (Sturm and White, 2019).
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