“Medicine is only for those who cannot imagine doing anything else.” Luanda Grazette
It gives the IBCFPRS Board of Directors great pleasure to announce that Dr. Marshall J. Murdoch, a plastic surgeon from Knysna, South Africa, earned the highest score on the 2022 IBCFPRS exam in Washington, D.C., this past June. Although he won’t be able to attend, Dr. Murdoch will be honored with the Claus D. Walter Award for Academic Excellence at the AAFPRS/IFFPSS fall meeting in National Harbor, Maryland.
At an early age, Dr. Murdoch knew that medicine was his calling. “I have only ever wanted to be a surgeon,” he confides. “When I was five years old, I accompanied my mother to a follow-up appointment with her otorhinolaryngologist, Dr. Copps. I saw all these drawings of faces and noses in his examination room and Dr. Copps took the time to answer a curious child’s questions. He even took down a plastic model and explained the workings of the nose to me. Can you imagine a doctor taking the time to do that for a little kid? Afterward, I told my mom that I wanted to be a surgeon—just like Dr. Copps.”
“Later, for my 12th birthday, my parents gave me a book—a memoir of a plastic surgeon—“The Transforming Knife,” by George Sava. That book essentially defined my career path from then on—every decision I made was based on becoming a plastic surgeon.”
Dr. Murdoch earned degrees in physiology and human biology at the University of Witwatersrand and continued to earn his medical degree there as well. “It was an easy choice,” states Dr. Murdoch, “because my father worked at the University and we lived about three blocks from the medical school. Later, I started a general surgery residency, cutting my teeth in a high-volume, major trauma unit. When a plastic surgery residency opened at Baragwanath Hospital (the second largest hospital in the Southern Hemisphere), I was fortunate to be accepted.
After qualifying, my initial interests were in academia, focused on microsurgery, but after a few years of intellectual frustration, the sudden opportunity to do a cosmetic fellowship was the catalyst for an early career pivot.”
Dr. Murdoch went on to complete a fellowship with Dr. Richard Halley-Stott, who ignited his interest in facial plastic surgery. “Dr. Halley-Stott was a particularly gifted facelift and rhinoplasty surgeon as well as a thorough teacher and encouraging mentor,” explains Murdoch. “He was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. Because of Dr. Halley-Stott’s fellowship, I saw facial plastic surgery in a new light—the accord of technical and artistic skill. This was particularly true for rhinoplasty—a procedure I only understood for the first time during my fellowship. After my fellowship, Dr. Halley-Stott invited me to open practice at his hospital and for many years, my office was directly across the passageway from his.”
“Afterwards, I was selected by Allergan South Africa to be one of their facial aesthetic trainers. Through this association, I was (and still am) incredibly blessed to be able to travel and receive training at many international centers. This solidifies my commitment to facial aesthetics—my most preferred area. I enjoy both non-surgical aesthetics (Botox and filler injections) as well as facial aesthetic surgery. The combination of facelift, blepharoplasty, fat grafting and resurfacing are my most performed procedures,” he explains.
Dr. Murdoch with Dr. Konrad Hoekstra at the
Examinee Reception during the 2022 IBCFPRS examination in Washington, D.C.
“I just have to say,” relates Dr. Murdoch, “that undertaking a board exam 15 years post-qualification is a daunting prospect. I would like to thank Dr. Cameron McIntosh, IBCFPRS diplomate from South Africa, for planting the seed, Drs. Roxana Cobo, IBCFPRS President and Peter Adamson, IBCFPRS Global Ambassador, for their encouragement and support, and Dr. Konrad Hoekstra, my colleague from South Africa, for stepping up to the plate to put in all those extra hours to study and then fly to Washington to take the exam with me. That’s what I call commitment,” Murdoch adds.
Continuing their commitment to facial plastic surgery, Dr. Murdoch explained that along with Drs. Konrad Hoekstra and Cameron McIntosh, “we are planning on developing an African facial plastic surgery IFFPSS fellowship to train and equip the next generation of surgeons. For my part, academic teaching and training are where I would like to focus my efforts while I continue to refine my surgical skills and results.”
“Most importantly,” Dr. Murdoch, concludes, “I want to send a special thanks to my family: Angelique, Arabella and Raegan—nothing makes sense without you.”
Dr. Roxana Cobo, IBCFPRS President, adds, “The IBCFPRS examination has been established to encourage applicants for certification to reach for and achieve the highest standards in our profession. That Dr. Murdoch not only passed the examination, but achieved the highest international score, is a testament to his knowledge and commitment to be the best that he can be. I might also add that Dr. Murdoch is the first surgeon who completed primary certification in plastic surgery rather than otolaryngology, to have achieved the Claus Walter Award. May he serve as an inspiration to others as he continues to promote the advancement of our specialty.”