Your First Visit with the Gastroenterologist

Reviewed by Jennifer Nayor, MD

Jennifer Nayor MD, of Concord Gastroenterology Associates sat down for an episode of Emerson’s Health Works Here podcast series to provide tips for your first visit to the gastroenterologist. Continue reading for her insights or listen to the podcast below.

Seeing a specialist for the first time can be stressful. A trip to the gastroenterologist can be especially nerve-wracking. “Patients don’t always feel comfortable talking about gastrointestinal (GI) issues,” notes Dr. Nayor of Concord Gastroenterology Associates. “We’re talking about things like bowel movements, farts and burps; about diarrhea and things that naturally give people the giggles. I don’t think these issues are anything to be anxious or nervous about, because that is why you are coming to see me.”

Preparing for Your Visit

Dr. Nayor recommends doing some homework before your visit. “I think coming prepared just helps reduce the anxiety.” She urges patients to assemble these items for the most effective and efficient visit:

  • First, bring any records from previous testing and visits. This includes recent blood test results, prior endoscopy or colonoscopy results, and imaging results like ultrasounds or CAT scans.
  • In addition, she urges patients coming from another gastroenterologist or primary care doctor to bring clinic notes from those visits. “It can be really helpful. I can get a sense of what other doctors have been thinking about.”
  • Bring a list of current medications and dosages, including all prescriptions and supplements. If you don’t have time to write down each and every one, take the prescription bottles to the appointment with you.
  • Lastly, prepare notes on your concerns and symptoms. Document the symptoms that brought you to the gastroenterologist with as many details as you can to provide a better picture of the issue you hope to resolve. Creating a list of questions helps the visit go smoothly. With an expert in front of you, it is the perfect opportunity to get answers.

What to Expect

While you are technically visiting a “specialist’s” office, expect to be checked over similar to a primary care visit. “I typically do a physical exam on any patient who I am meeting for the first time. I am a gastroenterologist, but I am also an internal medicine doctor. So I examine the patient from head to toe. I will examine the heart, the lungs, in addition to doing an abdominal exam and other GI assessments,” explains Dr. Nayor.

For rectal complaints, an examination of that area may be necessary. Rectal or anal pain, blood from the rectum, and itching or discomfort from the perianal area require closer inspection. Another member of the staff is present in the room during such an examination.

“I always tell patients everything I am doing at the time I do a rectal exam, so they know the steps involved. That tends to make them feel a bit more at ease,” shares Dr. Nayor.

An additional piece of advice is to learn who you will see at your first visit. At Concord Gastroenterology Associates, you will first meet with a specialist physician. However, some practices will schedule you with a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant for the first appointment.

Plan for 20 to 40 minutes for a full evaluation on the initial visit. Depending on your needs and GI history, it may take longer or shorter.

“Coming to the gastroenterologist should not be something that makes you anxious. You are coming to get help, and our job is to provide you with the help you need. Try to think about it like any other visit; you are there to get your questions answered and to feel better. And that is what we want for you.”


Listen to the Podcast

Dr. Jennifer Nayor talks about what to expect at your first visit with a gastroenterologist and provides tips to make your visit a valuable experience.

Subscribe to the Health Works Here Podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts and wherever podcasts can be heard.

About Dr. Jennifer Nayor

Dr. Jennifer Nayor is a board-certified gastroenterologist with Emerson’s Concord Gastroenterology Associates. Dr. Nayor performed her residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Please visit Dr. Nayor’s physician profile to learn more and request an appointment.

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