Boyle Community Pediatrics Program

The Boyle Community Pediatrics Program is a champion of patient- and family-centered care at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD). Our mission is to lead and ensure patient- and family-centered care for children—especially those with chronic conditions—through education, service, and community partnership. At its heart, family-centered care is about dignity and respect for children and their families. Their participation in all aspects of CHaD—clinical care, education and quality improvement—demonstrates our commitment to the families we serve.

We encourage medical students and residents to employ a holistic approach to pediatric care and become aware that understanding a patient's home environment and community resources are as important as treating the medical condition itself. 

Our history

In 1997, a concerned parent and her child's doctor began the Boyle Community Pediatrics Program to care for both chronically ill children and their families.

They knew that even seriously ill children often have only brief stays in the hospital and that most of the care happens at home and within the community. Because these children came and went so quickly, many doctors in training knew nothing more about the patient than the immediate medical crisis and did not understand the devastating emotional, financial, and social difficulties their families faced. Few were aware of what resources the community had to help families in need. It was difficult for them to look beyond the disease and care for the child and his or her family.

The goals for this new program were to train medical students and residents to practice family-centered care and look beyond the disease they were treating. Doing so would result in healthier patients and less-stressed families. The program was named for pediatrician William Boyle, who for 35 years has been a leader in both medical education at Dartmouth and in compassionate care for children and families.

Testimonials from medical students

What does it mean to live with a disease, not just while sitting in the doctor’s office, but every hour of every day. How much will this cost? How do I arrange my life to be able to get to appointments? Every conversation gave me some new insight into the realities of medicine.

I think the science is easier to learn than how to effectively communicate and connect with people. Having conversations with them about their lives and daily activities helped me learn how to talk to older people and what you have to keep in mind concerning age differences and how they hear what I am saying.

Doctors need to let our patients talk and listen to their opinions. We might not always know the best thing; they may know it themselves. We must take each patient as an individual and figure out individual plans to help them find the results they want.

I think you learn that medicine is a partnership, not a dictatorship. It is incredible that this 11-year-old kid can teach this 30-year-old medical student about medicine and life and struggles and how to fight.

It offers a unique opportunity to share a piece of another person’s life and provides and avenue for medical education outside of the classroom.

Instead of just focusing on the patient, the family members have strong feelings about things as well, and while the patient is your primary focus, you need to make sure the family is doing OK too.

Perhaps the lesson I learned in this program is that the illness is just a part of the person; it does not define them.

I learned about love, death, growing old, giving back to the community and special talents. My patient partner always wondered how she could possibly be helping me in my journey to become a doctor, but truthfully she helped me grow as an individual, which encompasses more than just becoming a good doctor.