A specialist in congenital heart disease, Robert W. Elder, MD, treats patients from infancy through adulthood. He is board-certified in adult internal medicine, pediatrics, pediatric cardiology and adult congenital heart disease.
“I treat patients of all ages, which is key for congenital heart disease, a broad disease that can range from having a malformed valve to missing half of your heart and everything in between,” Dr. Elder says. “I like having the additional training in adult medicine because it’s important to provide transition of care for kids with congenital heart disease when they grow up with a strong background in internal medicine.”
Many children who are born with congenital heart disease are seen by pediatric cardiologists until they transfer to an adult specialist. “I can treat them across their lifespan,” says Dr. Elder, who is director of the Yale Medicine Adult Congenital Heart Program.
Dr. Elder says his favorite part of the job is getting to know patients and their families and learning their stories. “I love making sure they and their families understand their condition,” he says. “I get to work with wonderful patients.”
He pursued a medical career because it married his interest in science and “compassionate care.” He was also influenced by his late grandfather, who ran a family practice in rural Colorado. (He keeps the leather satchel his grandfather used for house calls on a shelf in his office.)
Dr. Elder is an assistant professor of pediatric cardiology and of cardiology at Yale School of Medicine. His research interests include studying people who are born with one single pumping chamber (as opposed to two) in their heart and have had a surgery called the Fontan procedure to better address the long-term changes in circulation.