Dr. Boucher graduated Ohio State dental school in 1927 and entered private practice with Dr. Harvey V.D. Cotrell and Dr. H.S. Shumway in downtown Columbus. He soon began teaching part-time at the OSU dental school, and in 1935 he limited his practice to removable dentures. In 1940 he was promoted to associate professor and chairman, division of prosthodontics, and held the chair thirty years. Throughout his career he divided his time equally between teaching and private practice. He was a Fellow in both the American College of Dentists and Academy of Denture Prosthetics.
In 1950 the ADP, now the Academy of Prosthodontics, joined with the American Prosthodontic Society and the Pacific Coast Society of Prosthodontics to publish The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry. Dr. Boucher was founding JPD editor in 1951, and served until 1975, when Dr. Judson Hickey took over. Presently the JPD has 31 sponsoring organizations including the Boucher Conference whose members all subscribe to the Journal.
Dr. Boucher also edited several editions of Swenson's Complete Dentures, published by Mosby Co., and since named for Boucher, as well as Current Clinical Dental Terminology, also published by Mosby. Dr. Boucher has been called the "man who wrote the book" about complete denture prosthodontics. The JPD and his textbooks can be found in dental schools around the world.
The first COB Prosthodontic Conference was held on April 11 & 12, 1966, and organized by Drs. Alexander L. Martone, Chairman, Julian B. Woelfel, Judson C. Hickey, and six other dentists. Lectures were given in the Ohio State University School of Law auditorium, and the banquet held at Stouffer's Inn next to the campus.
The 167 charter sponsors represented a widespread and diverse collection of dentists from as far away as England, Sweden and Singapore and from twenty-six U.S. states. Ten Canadian dentists attended from five different provinces. More than fifty academic dentists represented nineteen dental schools. Fourteen charter sponsors were engaged in active military service.
The 1966 Conference began with greetings from Ohio State University President Novice G. Fawcett and OSU dental school dean Dr. John R. Wilson. Dr. Earl Pound of Los Angeles, California lectured the first day, topics included, "The Immediate Denture Challenge," "Mandibular Movements of Speech," and "A Consultation Approach to Your Prospective Patients."
That evening, banquet Master of Ceremonies was Dean Wilson and guest speaker was Dr. Linden F. Edwards, renowned anatomist and frequent co-author with Dr. Boucher. The next morning were lectures by Dr. Clyde H. Schuyler of Montclair, New Jersey, "Occlusion and Its Relation to Esthetics and Function," followed by Dr. Victor L. Steffel, Columbus, Ohio, "Current Concepts in Removable Partial Denture Service." After lunch and a brief business meeting, Dr. Boucher presented, "Current Concepts in Complete Denture Service."
The Conference concluded with a panel session titled, "Quiz Your Teachers" moderated by Dr. Hickey. Six dentists and Dr. Edwards answered questions on the subjects of complete dentures, partial dentures, dental materials, anatomy and periodontics.
All thirty-six annual Boucher Conferences held ever since have followed the same program format as the first meeting, with only minor changes. The meeting site location has moved a few times to different Columbus hotels, sometimes by necessity, and beginning in 1969 the Conference is always held on a Friday and Saturday. The second-day afternoon panel was dropped long ago when members reported difficulty making evening travel connections.
Additions to the Conference format include a President's Reception held on Thursday evening before the Conference and invitations to graduate prosthodontic residents from Ohio State and other schools. During the Conference short case presentations are given by senior residents and table clinics by junior residents. Since 1995, a golf outing is held on the day before the Conference, usually at the Ohio State Scarlet course, ranked in the top 100 American golf courses and considered the number one college course in the world.
Traditionally the Friday luncheon is highlighted by the presentation of the Carl O. Boucher Senior Student Award, recognizing the graduating Ohio State student exhibiting the most outstanding prosthodontic skills. Introduction of officers and recognition of past presidents round out the meal. All OSU senior students and dental laboratory technicians are invited to attend the Conference at no charge, as well as prosthodontic residents from any ADA approved prosthodontic training program. The Friday evening banquet speaker has been replaced with live musical entertainment.
The Conference attendance usually includes many general dentists and specialists, dental faculty and private practitioners, retired dentists and students/residents, lab technicians and guests. For OSU alumni from out of state or country, the Conference offers a reunion opportunity that many look forward to, even if they cannot attend every year. Some charter sponsors have attended all 37 Conferences, many others attended ever year until they retired or died.
The typical program will feature five or six speakers the first day and three or four the next morning, plus graduate students. The President-elect serves as program chairman, and chooses speakers based on qualifications and reputation, attempting to provide a variety of prosthodontic and dental-related subjects. For example, there may be speakers on removable prosthetics, bridgework, implants, esthetics, maxillofacial prosthetics and dental materials, plus topics such as HIV updates, infection control regulations, and ethics. Recent programs have included several physician essayists.
Demographics of the present membership reflect the original group of sponsors. There are currently 157 members; three honorary, 26 life members, 115 active and 13 corresponding members. They represent nine foreign countries, 23 states and 32 Ohio cities and towns. The wide spanned membership base offers networking possibilities and exchange of ideas between practitioners with common interests. There is probably as much "continuing education" going on in the hallways and refreshment breaks as during the lectures and open discussions periods.
Consistency of program format and content attract many members to attend often, if not every year. When the State Dental Board of Ohio began requiring continued education for license renewal in 1987, the Conference applied for and received recognition from the Board as an approved CE provider. The Boucher Conference is also approved by the Ohio Section of the Academy of General Dentistry.
Reasonably low costs allow young dentists to join the Conference and attend the meetings. Annual membership dues of $135 include a subscription to JPD, which is less than the cost on an individual subscription. Members may attend the meeting for $60 ($65 at the door), and receive eleven (11) hours of continuing education. Tuition for guests is $90. Saturday-only registration is available, $40 for four (4) hours CE.
Costs of the Conference are partially defrayed by commercial sponsors and exhibitors, which vary from year to year. Many speakers decline honoraria or travel expenses, and local arrangements are coordinated by volunteer members of the Conference, with secretarial help provided by staff from the Ohio State University dental school.
The annual catalog of CE courses offered by the dental school mentions the Boucher Conference dates and location, but course registration is handled by the Conference. Dues statements are mailed in October, and the annual newsletter containing program and registration information is mailed in November. The Boucher Conference is registered as a nonprofit organization.
Around 1990 the Conference began a fundraising effort to sponsor a Memorial Room in the OSU dental school. A committee of fifteen was assembled and eventually more than 50 dentists made donations, as well as the O.S.U. Dental Alumni Society and The Academy of Prosthodontics. The Carl O. Boucher Memorial Conference Room is now located on the west end of the third floor of the dental school (room #3089-B).
Some former laboratory space was remodeled to include carpet, wallpaper, and bookcases with a complete set of JPDs, assorted dental textbooks, and audiovisual equipment. Tables and chairs accommodate 70-plus. The room was dedicated April 12, 1996, during the 31st annual meeting, with more than 100 colleagues, former students, friends and admirers in attendance.
Beginning 1997, the Conference has held an annual open house every February in the Memorial Room, inviting all faculty, students and staff as well as Ohio members of the Conference to learn about speakers for the upcoming Conference and meet with members. Refreshments are provided, and a one-year JPD subscription is raffled. In February 2002, an American flag was hung in the Boucher Memorial Room as part of the National Flag Foundation school program.
Until recently, Conference meeting announcements were sent to dental publications, such as the Columbus Dental Society, OSU Dental Alumni Society magazine, and ADA News. In 2002 the Conference experimented with placing a small, paid advertisement in the Ohio Dental Association newsletter. The response was encouraging, and resulted in many requests for information and some new members. Similar announcements are scheduled.
Another new source of communication is the upcoming super web site, "theJPD.com." It's still under construction, but eventually will contain links to individual web sites of sponsoring JPD organizations, including the Boucher Conference. This will enable the Conference and other sponsoring organizations to have Internet presence without the high cost of web page management, and keep down the costs of membership dues and meeting tuition.
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