Alison Sharpe, D.O.: A relationship approach to gastroenterology

As a GI doctor, she gets to care for patients long term and really get to know them and their families.

Gastroenterologist Alison Sharpe, D.O., is the first to acknowledge her approach to medicine may sound a little corny, but she is sincere. She wants to treat every patient the way she’d treat a member of her own family.

“So many of the gastrointestinal conditions may not be life-threatening, but they can be extremely life- altering,” said Dr. Sharpe, who sees patients at Norton Gastroenterology Consultants of Louisville. “Everything we deal with is a big deal to the people to whom it’s happening.”

Dr. Sharpe is the newest member of Norton Healthcare’s gastroenterology and liver diseases team. Joining Norton Healthcare is a homecoming of sorts for Dr. Sharpe. The Bowling Green, Kentucky, native did her internal medicine residency at the University of Louisville and fell in love with the city.

Dr. Sharpe said she chose Norton Healthcare because of the quality of care and people who work at Norton Healthcare tend to stay put.

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“Clearly, the people who work here are happy. That carries over to your patient care and how you’re treating everyone else during the day,” Dr. Sharpe said.

Dr. Sharpe chose gastroenterology because she loves procedures but still wanted time with patients. As a doctor treating gastrointestinal (GI) conditions, she cares for patients over the long term and really gets to know them and their families.

Moreover, many patients seeking care from a gastroenterologist may feel defined by their illnesses. Acknowledging them as the people they are, rather than diagnoses they carry, is an area where she can make a difference.

Endoscopy Advances Help GI Patients Avoid Major Surgery

Gastroenterology is making advances in what it’s able to do for patients with endoscopy, often giving people relief from symptoms without major surgery, according to Dr. Sharpe.

“New techniques and new technology allow us to do minimally invasive procedures to help people,” she said. “It is incredibly gratifying when we see those patients back in the office several month later, living healthier, fuller lives.”

Female Patients Often Feel More Comfortable With a Woman GI Doctor

Dr. Sharpe attended the University of Kentucky as an undergraduate and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Erie, Pennsylvania, for medical school. She completed her internal medicine residency, including a year as a chief resident, at the University of Louisville, followed by a gastroenterology fellowship at East Tennessee State University, Johnson City.

“For whatever reason, there are still fewer women going into GI than other medical and surgical subspecialties,” Dr. Sharpe said. “Often, female patients are more comfortable discussing sensitive topics and having invasive exams, like colonoscopy, performed by a female doctor.”

In addition to cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, liver and colon, conditions treated by gastroenterologists include celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome and swallowing disorders.

Researchers also increasingly are linking the gastrointestinal tract to a number of other non-GI conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. As the research advances in the coming years, Dr. Sharpe is excited about the possibility that she may one day have a chance to help address these ailments.

“There’s huge potential for that in the future,” Dr. Sharpe said.


Norton Gastroenterology Consultants of Louisville – Downtown

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