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Who’s Who: Debra Boyer, MD, MHPE

Debra Boyer, MD, MHPE, almost went into teaching as a profession. Instead, she made teaching an integral part of her medical career.

Debra Boyer MD

A pediatric pulmonologist specializing in lung transplantation, Dr. Boyer initially explored several scientific careers before deciding that her interest in science and love of children was pointing her toward a career in pediatrics. In her fourth year of medical school, Dr. Boyer did a rotation where she admitted a young patient with cystic fibrosis. The pediatric pulmonologist who cared for the patient sparked Dr. Boyer’s interest, and she admired the way he cared for and developed a relationship with his patient. Her mentor introduced her to more than just her specialty. “I learned how important mentorship is, and how one person can affect an entire career,” she says.

Building relationships is a part of her job that she particularly enjoys, be it with patients, other colleagues, or future physicians. Dr. Boyer appreciates being able to work on complicated cases and being there to help patients and their families navigate difficult experiences, such as lung transplantation.

Formally, Dr. Boyer has incorporated teaching into her work by running a fellowship program, which has, to date, trained over 45 doctors in pediatric pulmonology, a growing field. She loves working with trainees because it allows her to continue to learn as well, particularly when they ask insightful questions that inspire her to delve more deeply into research to answer ‘why.’

In the time that Dr. Boyer has been caring for children and young adults, there have been major advancements in cystic fibrosis. “From gene-modifying drugs to pediatric lung transplants, things that were a dream a few years ago are now available to improve lifespan and quality of life,” Dr. Boyer explains. It’s this kind of work, where she’s able to play a role in tangibly improving someone’s quality of life, that particularly excites her.

Unsurprisingly, Dr. Boyer doesn’t see herself ever leaving direct patient care, though she is currently enjoying a transition to more administrative roles. Dr. Boyer also enjoys researching medical education to find the best ways to train the next generation of pulmonologists as they go on to advance the field.

When Dr. Boyer isn’t with her patients, she is involved with the ATS, chairing the Education Committee and serving on the Board of Directors. She’s also a member of the Assembly on Pediatrics Planning Committee.   She appreciates the emphasis on education and mentorship within the ATS in all its forms, from trainees to patients and their families through PAR.

If she’s not working, you can find Dr. Boyer with her husband, also a doctor, or their three kids, aged 17, 14, and 10, or the two dogs, two hamsters, a fish, and a bearded dragon that make up the rest of her household. Otherwise, Dr. Boyer can be found on a local soccer field, where she captains a team. This May, you’ll be able to find her at the ATS conference in Dallas, continuing her work to encourage young members to get involved, and helping them realize how many opportunities are available to them. If all that fails, you may be able to find her enjoying the local Dallas offerings, including taking on a (mechanical!) bull.