Physicians with Heart: Dr. Shanelle Clarke

Dr. Shanelle Clarke, pediatric cardiologist at Sibley Heart Center Cardiology, specializes in training teams to talk to each other in crisis situations. As the Associate Director of the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Heart Center CICU, she is developing a cardiac simulation program to promote improvement in multidisciplinary processes with the aim of delivering the most effective care to her young patients. As a mom of 7-year-old twin daughters, her research on team dynamics and functionality no doubt comes in handy at home as well.

“I hope that my work in the CICU shows my girls that when you work hard and love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work,” Dr. Clarke said. “I tell them my job is to get the sick babies home to their moms.”

Dr. Clarke says that working with her team to help the sickest of the sick patients get better and go home is why she comes to work every day. She also finds it deeply fulfilling to see the growth of young staff as they utilize the educational simulations she has developed.

“When I see them develop a better understanding of what their patients need and watch light bulbs go off as they grow and learn, it gives me great joy,” she said.

Dr. Clarke also sits on the Children’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, which is dedicated to improving diversity within the system. She said that an understanding of the importance of D&I improves patient care, and a diversity of leadership opens the door to more creative solutions to problems. Different people will see things differently and be able to recognize new opportunities.

“We have very diverse patient populations, and a focus on diversity allows us to optimally support these patients,” she said. “People of different backgrounds and ethnicities want to feel comfortable and heard. This leads to more engagement in patient care and better outcomes.”

As an example of the gift of diversity, Dr. Clarke says motherhood has brought more grace and empathy to her interactions with families.

“I try to put myself in their shoes and understand that everyone’s situation is different in ways I can’t begin to imagine,” Dr. Clarke said. “When we empathize, we can engage families more, and when they have a good understanding of what’s happening with their child, they have more faith in the team. They will be more likely to come in with questions, concerns and follow up care.”

She said the people who work at Children’s genuinely have the best interest of each child at heart. Every patient is treated as an individual, and each one gets everyone’s attention and best efforts. Dr. Clarke said this attitude extends to the Children’s staff as well.

“The group I work with is great because they value your family,” she said. “They recognize that you’re a person outside of work, with people who are important to you and situations that can impact you. We’re encouraged to take care of those things too.”

Dr. Clarke’s parents, who are from Jamaica, two sisters and their children also live in Atlanta. Dr. Clarke and her daughters enjoy spending time with family, bike riding, traveling and the occasional home dance and karaoke party.

“I get joy from seeing my kids developing into their own people,” she said. “It’s frustrating sometimes when I just want them to do what I say! But their growing independence and their ability to come up with their own thoughts and opinions is fun to watch.”

 

Shanelle Clarke, MD

Education

  • Medical school: University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
  • Residency: Monroe Carell Jr Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University
  • Fellowship: Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin at Medical College of Wisconsin

Areas of Focus

  • General cardiology
  • Cardiac Intensive Care

For more information about Sibley Heart Center Cardiology and our pediatric cardiology specialists, click here.