Pediatric Gastroenterologist Uses Medicine and Music to Help Patients and Families Through Challenging Times

Compassionate Collaborative Care

It is often said that our earliest influences make the deepest marks on our lives. This is certainly true for Jordan S. Whatley, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) with a clinical specialty in pediatric gastroenterology. "My mom has been a dialysis nurse for over 35 years and that early exposure to medicine was really powerful for me. I sometimes went to work with her and saw what she did and how she helped people in our family get the care they needed when they had a health issue," says Whatley. His family also influenced his choice to go into pediatrics. "We were a big family. There were always a lot of kids of all ages running around playing and growing up together," he says. "Plus, I have a sister who is eight years younger than me, so I got to help take care of her and watch her grow up. I've always loved being around kids".

Dr. Jordan S. Whatley 
Dr. Jordan Whatley

Whatley comes to MUSC from a fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology at Mattel Children's Hospital at the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to that, he graduated from the New York Medical College School of Medicine in Valhalla, New York. Whatley completed his residency training at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital at Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine.

Although he decided to go into medicine during high school, it was not until college that he confirmed beyond a doubt that this was what he was meant to do. "I started working in the traumatic brain injury rehabilitation unit at Ohio State. It was a really pivotal exposure for me to see medicine from that angle. Our patients were people who were walking around just fine and then had a car accident or some other event that suddenly and completely changed their lives forever. Seeing that and being with those patients and their families at the worst time in their lives was really impactful. It was just very rewarding to be there for them, in the small way that I could at that time in my training," says Whatley. "It's still the most important thing for me to be there for my patients and their families when things are difficult."

Whatley's patient-care philosophy matches the overall goals of the MUSC division. "We want the patients and their families to know that we're on a team together, putting the best interest of their child first," says Whatley. "We see pediatric care as a really collaborative effort and we want the families to know that we're going to follow the problem all the way to its conclusion."

Some of the most common conditions Whatley sees are chronic abdominal pain, chronic constipation, and gastroesophageal reflux, but he also treats less common conditions like celiac disease, eosinophilic esophagitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Although he currently sees clinical patients, Whatley hopes to eventually do more genetics research at MUSC. "I developed a great interest in exploring the intersection of genetics and gastroenterological conditions during my fellowship at UCLA. Sometimes a genetic test result can completely change your approach to care with a particular child. So, over time I'd like to become a point person in the division to help navigate that dynamic."

In addition to clinical care and research, Whatley also believes in the healing power of music. He produced a six-song album in medical school and has put on regular concerts for children in the hospitals where he has worked. "I play guitar and sing. It's sort of folk-acoustic–pretty easy listening. In undergrad I did some concerts for patients in the traumatic brain injury unit. I did some music therapy in med school, and at the holidays I always try to play a concert for the kids in the hospital. It's really cathartic for me. It's great to have a totally different way to connect with the kids I see through music."

Whatley is currently accepting new pediatric outpatients at MUSC's R. Keith Summey Medical Pavilion in North Charleston and the MUSC subspecialty clinic in Summerville. If you would like to make an appointment with Dr. Whatley or refer a patient, please call 843-876-0444.