Remembering Ann Stadtler, Retired BTC Leader and Faculty

We are deeply saddened by the loss of Ann Coleman Stadtler, DNP, RN, CPNP, who passed on Saturday, July 25, 2020. There are those among us here at Brazelton Touchpoints Center who had the distinct good fortune to have known and worked with Ann closely and for a long time, those here whose lives and work have also been touched by her in ways that they might not even realize, and many more in between, as well as far and wide. And then there are the countless children and families whose lives have also benefited from Ann’s passionate dedication, whether that was because of her direct primary care as a pediatric nurse practitioner; her developmental, behavioral expertise in the Division of Developmental Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital; her leadership at the Brazelton Touchpoints Center (BTC) as she trained or mentored thousands of practitioners worldwide; her teaching and implementation of the Newborn Behavioral Observations (NBO) with the Brazelton Institute; or her teaching and writing directly to parents of young children.

Ann was an extraordinary pediatric nurse practitioner, one of the first in the country, and the first in the Maryland county where she first practiced when NPs were not permitted into newborn nurseries. Ever one to address barriers to care with her warm yet determined will, she set precedent by seeing the newborns bedside with their new parents as a way to skirt the prohibition, and thus began her use of the NBO and dedication to family-centered practice. Ann began her career in private pediatric practice after she graduated from Boston College but then returned to Boston and joined Boston Children’s Hospital as assistant director of the Medical Diagnostic Programs and later served as director of the Preschool Function Program. Ann was clinical coordinator of the School Function Program, Pain and Incontinence Program, and Early Childhood Program. She had a special interest in children with delays in toileting and was a key designer of the family-centered “Toilet School” treatment program. She co-authored Lessons from Toilet School: A Family-Centered Approach to Toilet Training, which was published in 2017. Remarkably, in her sixties and while extraordinarily busy, she earned her doctorate in nursing practice with a dissertation operationalizing family-centered care within intensive in-patient pediatric settings.

Ann lived a life of professional and personal selflessness. She was an inspirational figure and embodied all that is best in nursing as clinician, teacher, colleague, and public health advocate. For Ann, nursing was clearly a calling, a lifestyle, and a way of living. Her capacity for empathy enabled her to acknowledge and understand people’s confusion, concerns, doubts, and fears, so that she was optimistic and always hopeful and positive in the face of adversity. Indeed, Ann helped change the way we look at children and families. She always put the patient first, and took the time to listen without judgment or prejudice.

Ann was one of the founding faculty at BTC and, indeed, there would not be a BTC had it not been for her unwavering determination and skills. She served as director of BTC and led BTC’s professional development program for over 20 years. Ann was director of the Touchpoints Outreach and Network Development and also worked with the Brazelton Institute before retiring in 2018. She dedicated her life to finding and developing new models of care to promote a more compassionate, family-centered approach based on respect, openness, equality, and mutuality, and she invited patients to participate in decision-making. She was caring, considerate, concerned, and compassionate. As a result, she commanded the unfailing loyalty and admiration of colleagues—nurses, pediatricians, parents, and children across the world.

Ann received the Massachusetts March of Dimes Nurse Practitioner of the Year Award, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates & Practitioners’ Loretta C. Ford Outstanding Fellow Award, the Wong Hock Boon Professorship from Singapore University Hospital, the BCH Mel Levine Award, That’s the Spirit Award, and the BTC Outstanding Leader Award.

The depth of our sense of loss is equal to her limitless compassion and caring.  She will be profoundly missed.

Kevin Nugent and Jayne Singer