Dr. Dominic J. Vernon achieves Jack Anderson Award for top score on 2022 ABFPRS examination

Dr. Dominic J. Vernon, from Indianapolis, Indiana, earned the highest score on the 2022 ABFPRS examination in Washington, D.C., and will be honored with the Jack R. Anderson Award for Scholastic Excellence at the AAFPRS Fall Meeting in National Harbor, Maryland (just outside Washington, D.C.).

“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” Hippocrates

When asked what compelled him to pursue a medical career, Dr. Vernon shared the following:

“As with many physicians, my interest in medicine came from a desire to directly and positively impact the lives of others. For me, that realization came while studying biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame. While I loved my field, I also found that I wanted to use my knowledge and skills to help others on a more personal level outside the laboratory.”

“I attended medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine and then completed a residency in Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at IU. During residency, I met Dr. Taha Shipchandler, who served as program director. It was under his instruction that I began to develop an interest in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. I’ve always been drawn to the arts and performing procedures in this medically artistic field provided a marriage of form and function. After seeing the surgical outcomes that changed patients’ lives, I fell in love with the specialty almost immediately.”

Following his residency, Dr. Vernon spent an additional year training in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins University under Drs. Patrick Byrne and Ira Papel. He was also fortunate to have Drs. Kofi Boahene, Shaun Desai, Lisa Ishii, and Theda Kontis as additional mentors. “A year training in fellowship exposed me to the entire breadth of facial plastic surgery and ultimately influenced my decision to pursue a career in academic medicine,” relates Dr. Vernon.

“We felt very blessed to have had the opportunity to train Dominic Vernon,” confides Dr. Patrick Byrne, now Chair of the Head and Neck Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. “He is obviously talented and brilliant. What really stands out about Dominic is how incredibly humble and gracious he is. He is the last person in the world to ‘toot his own horn.’ The year he spent with us was a joy—whenever he is around, life is just better,” concludes Dr. Byrne.

Dr. Papel added, “Dominic was one of those quiet, but efficient fellows. He never complained about his schedule, which was quite intense, or anything else. He was always a pleasure to work with, even when he bragged about his beloved Notre Dame football team. Dominic is a talented surgeon who is always willing to help out in any way possible. I don’t want to imply that Dominic is in any way boring, but he tended to eliminate surprises and anticipate problems so well that drama rarely occurred.”

Dr. Papel also shared that 2019 was the year he and Dr. Byrne had two fellows at Johns Hopkins—Dr. Nina Lu and Dr. Vernon. It’s worth noting that Dr. Lu took the ABFPRS exam in 2019 as one of the requirements for completion of her AAFPRS fellowship and won the Jack Anderson Award that year. Now, Dr. Vernon, who applied for ABFPRS certification as a regular candidate this year, has achieved the Anderson Award in 2022! This is the first time that any program has ever had two fellows who completed their fellowships in the same year and both won the Anderson Award!

Dr. Vernon is currently in his third year as an Assistant Professor in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Indiana University School of Medicine. He performs both cosmetic and reconstructive procedures, but as an academic physician, his practice is primarily reconstructive, with a wide range of local, free flap reconstruction, and functional rhinoplasty. He also has a particular interest in treating patients with facial paralysis and is highly involved in training residents and AAFPRS fellows in the fellowship program at Indiana University.

“I would like to extend a special thanks to all of my aforementioned mentors for their help and guidance along this journey,” offered Dr. Vernon. “Heartfelt gratitude and appreciation, however, goes to my wife, Veronica, for her continued support and patience through all those years of training!”

Dr. Catherine P. Winslow, ABFPRS President, offered the following:

“Dr. Jack Anderson continues to inspire a new generation of surgeons in our specialty who are committed to providing the highest surgical outcomes for their patients. I’m sure Dr.

Anderson would be extremely proud of Dr. Vernon for achieving the highest score on the 2022 ABFPRS examination. I want Dr. Vernon to know that the ABFPRS Board of Directors and I wish him every success as he pursues his career and completes ABFPRS certification.”

The 2023 examination will be given June 24-25 in Washington, D.C. If you have any questions regarding future examinations or completing certification requirements, please feel free to contact the ABFPRS office by emailing: [email protected] or calling (703) 549-3223.