Chicago-based Gastroenterologist Stephen T. Steiner, MD, is now seeing patients and performing procedures one week each month at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center. Gastroenterology focuses on the management of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (such as the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon), plus the liver.
Dr. Steiner does not to rush to diagnoses, instead preferring to treat patients’ symptoms. He enjoys working with patients, educating them by giving them as much information as possible and finding the best way to communicate their diagnoses. Making sure patients understand their diagnoses is especially important these days, he said, because people can type a few symptoms into an internet search engine and come up with an illness that they may not have.
“This can be very frightening for them, so I help alleviate fears by giving my patients the correct information for their cases,” Dr. Steiner said. “I’m a simple person, and I have to learn things simply. Because of this, I think I have an ability to explain things in a way people understand. I try to use analogies to boil down the technical side of medicine for patients.”
Dr. Steiner decided to pursue medicine while studying life sciences for his undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Intrigued by his science classes, he found himself relating the class material to his own body and how it functioned. He graduated from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine in 1986, and then he completed fellowships in both internal medicine and gastroenterology at Kansas University Medical Center. In his 35 years of practicing medicine, Dr. Steiner has worked in hospital and private practice settings, and he has taught internal medicine.
“The decision to go into gastroenterology was easy. It provides a nice variety and the balance of performing procedures and seeing patients in the office,” Dr. Steiner said.
He noted that the United States Preventive Task Force recently dropped the age that people should start screening for colon cancer. It is now 45 years old from 50. Dr. Steiner encourages people with higher risks, such as family history of colon cancer, to screen even earlier than that.
“This isn’t meant to scare people. It’s just better to catch and treat diseases before they progress,” Dr. Steiner said.
Some signs that indicate a person should see a gastroenterologist include blood in the stool, unusual abdominal pain, trouble swallowing, and taking over-the-counter heartburn medications several times a week. Consistently waking up in the middle of the night with the feeling that there is a hot liquid in the back of your throat is another sign that it’s time to see a gastroenterologist.
In 2018, the University of Chicago Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Fellows honored Dr. Steiner with the “Fellowship Teaching Award” for being an “Outstanding Teacher and Role Model.”
Dr. Steiner grew up on a rural farm in Iowa and was attracted to Sarah Bush Lincoln’s patient-focused approach to providing care. He lives in Chicago with his wife, and they have two adult sons. Dr. Steiner enjoys cooking and playing golf in his free time.
To make an appointment with Dr. Steiner, call SBL Gastroenterology at (217) 258-4155.