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Suzanne Boulter MED’66: Healthy Pursuits

Ask Suzanne Boulter MED’66 what she has been doing since she retired from clinical practice in 2010, and you won’t hear about a life of leisure. She is currently working on a nationwide American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) program called “Brush, Book, and Bed,” which ties together messages about oral health, reading, and good bedtime routines and neatly combines her interests in oral health and literacy.

For the past decade, Boulter has concentrated on infant-and-young-child oral health, serving as chair of the AAP Oral Health Initiative from 2005 to 2011. “Tooth decay is completely preventable with good hygiene and fluoride use,” she says, “but general dentists don’t see children before the age of five, when it’s already too late.”

In the past, pediatricians were trained to “look in the mouth but beyond the teeth, not at the teeth,” says Boulter. But that’s starting to change, in part because of her work.

A long-time practitioner in Concord, N.H., Boulter served as a primary care and adolescent medicine pediatrician, first with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Concord (originally the Concord Clinic) and then as a pediatric faculty member of the NH Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency Program. In that role, she developed and coordinated an oral health curriculum for family medicine residents and has given presentations on the subject around the country.

The physician practice of checking the teeth of babies and toddlers has “gone from a tiny number of us nationally,” says Boulter, “to almost routine. When you start with the learners, you can make a difference.”

On the literacy front, Boulter brought the Reach Out and Read program to New Hampshire, establishing the program’s second site, in Concord in 2008, and serving as the state medical director of the program in 2010-2011. The Boston-based nonprofit promotes incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.

Boulter has won numerous awards for her oral health and literacy work from the New Hampshire Pediatric Society and the AAP. She remains an adjunct professor of pediatrics and of community and family medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine, is a reviewer for Pediatrics, and serves on various regional and national boards.

However, Boulter’s retirement isn’t all work and no play. A former collegiate alpine skier, she still finds time for the sporting life—alpine and cross-country skiing, biking, and playing tennis. It seems Boulter has always been dedicated to healthy pursuits—for herself and for children.

Author:  Nancy Fontaine