Sep 13, 2015
Resident [Any Field]
Here is an overview of the Vanderbilt OMFS program, since there hasn’t been one in a while. We have 4 and 6 years tracks. Each year, we take two residents in the 4-year program and 1 resident in the 6-year program. I have found that the 4 and 6 years residents get along really well in our program.

Without a doubt, one of the biggest highlights of our program is the relationship between residents as well as the relationship between residents and attendings. We have a bunch of really great people who work hard and have fun doing it. The residents work as a team and have each other’s backs, which makes residency a lot easier. Our residents like to spend time together outside of the hospital and are inclusive of significant others/families.

At Vandy, we get great exposure to the traditional scope of OMFS. There is plenty of exposure to dentoalveolar, implants, infections, pathology, TMJ, orthognathic/sleep apnea surgery and maxillofacial reconstruction. Additionally we get plenty of exposure to bony and soft tissue trauma as we split trauma call every 3rd night with plastics and ENT and each service takes whatever comes in on their night. Our residents are very satisfied with the scope that we see at Vanderbilt and don’t feel that we are too inundated in any one particular area. At this point in time, we don’t do much of elective cosmetic surgery with the exception to adjunct procedures to enhance orthognathic surgeries such as cheek implants or cervical liposuctions or the occasional post-traumatic septorhinoplasty or scar revision.

Residents on service are normally split into blocks of approx. 2 months, during which 2 residents are assigned to each attending to run their service. Two additional residents are assigned to cover the OMS clinics at the VA hospital and the interfaith clinic (more below). The off-service residents are either doing rotations in Internal medicine/General Surgery/Anesthesia or in Medical School.

Wednesday 7-8am, Friday 2-5pm
Wednesday normally we have board-type discussions about past and upcoming cases, as well as M&M Fridays are more traditional with lectures prepared by a resident, an attending or a guest speaker.

Additionally, we have a quarterly journal club and oral pathology review with Dr. Padilla, from UNC or Dr. Damm from UK. There is a yearly David Hall lecture series during which a guest lecturer presents on a topic of their choice (For example, in 2014, Dr. Myron Tucker presented on orthognathic surgery). Research is encouraged and many residents have the opportunity to co-author chapters with our attendings.

Teaching faculty:
We have three primary teaching faculty and each brings something unique to the program. I have found our attendings to be very approachable and appreciate their different teaching styles.

Dr. McKenna DDS, MD – Professor and Chair
Dr. McKenna practices the full traditional scope of OMFS. He enjoys working with the pediatric population. While on his service, you get exposure to cleft lip and palate patients, in terms of bone grafting for repair of the alveolar cleft or orthognathic surgery. Additionally he is involved in performing mandibular distraction in newborns with Pierre Robin sequence, for example. Dr. McKenna has been at the program for since finishing his residency here, and you can tell that he is really dedicated to the Department and the residents. Dr. McKenna runs a very busy service, and has a wealth of knowledge to learn from.

Dr. Vega DDS– Associate Professor and Program Director
Dr Vega came to Vandy around 2 years ago after being faculty at UF/Jacksonville for a number of years. He did his residency at UAB and he also practices the full traditional scope of our specialty. He enjoys orthognathic surgery and is heavily involved in the full array of TMJ surgery from arthroscopy to total TMJ replacements. He also has an interest in zygomatic implants for the atrophic maxilla or acquired maxillary defects. Dr. Vega is a great to work with and very fun in the OR.

Dr. Susie Lin DDS MD - Assistant Professor
Dr. Lin join our faculty about one year ago after about ten years in private practice. She was trained and Vanderbilt and completed a cranio-facial fellowship at the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan. She practices a full traditional scope.

VA Faculty: Dr. Walls DDS, Dr. Schaefer DMD, MD
Both of our VA attendings went to Vandy for residency and are great to work with. The resident at the VA does lots of dentoalveolar surgery and implant placement. Residents also have the opportunity to rotate at an off site VA clinic and perform skin cancer excisions and local flap design. Residents typically enjoy their time working with the veterans and find it to be more similar to a private practice type experience.

Vanderbilt is located in Nashville, TN, which is a growing medium sized city. The residents love living in Nashville and there is tons of stuff to do with your free time (music, parks, areas to hike, great food, and lots of places to go out at night).

The Vanderbilt Medical Center is located outside of downtown in the same location as the undergrad, law, and medical campuses. The main hospital is connected to the Vanderbilt clinic (where the OMFS clinic is) and is right across the street from the Children’s Hospital and VA. It is very easy to be on call for the three hospitals because they are all located right together and you can even get between all the buildings without going outside. The hospitals themselves are nice and they were starting construction on a new OMS clinic to be completed in a few years.

The Interfaith clinic is an off site community clinic where residents will spend some time. It’s about a 5-10 minute drive form the hospital. There are lots of sedations for dentoalveolar and implants there. A number of volunteer OMS faculty cover this clinic.

There is a also 2-week rotation available in Bogotá, Columbia during which residents get exposure to primary cleft lip and palate surgery.

Interns take first call and it usually works out to 9-10 calls a month with ~3 of those being face calls. A nice feature is that our call is not in-house. OMFS service call is normally light to moderate depending on the night. Face call is usually pretty busy, especially on weekends. Upper levels take back up call, usually a week at a time.

6 - Year Track:

PGY1: Year 1 medical school (this is the 1st and 2nd years of traditional medical curriculum combined), 1 month OMS
PGY2: Year 2 medical school (this is the traditional clerkship year)
PGY3: 5 months OMS, 5 months anesthesia, 2 required medical school rotations
PGY4: 10 months General Surgery (2 months OMS)
PGY5: 12 months OMS
PGY6: 12 months OMS

Total months on service: 32

**6 year residents can take call while in medical school if interested, this is particularly feasible during the first year. You also return to the clinic one afternoon per week during the first year.

4 – Year Track:

PGY1: 10 months OMS, 2 months medicine
PGY2: 2 months OMS, 5 months anesthesia, 5 months general surgery
PGY3: 10 months OMS, 1 month trauma, 1 month elective
PGY4: 12 months OMS

Total months on service: 34

We take externs usually for 2 weeks at a time. It’s a great way to see our program and we have an on call room for externs to stay in. The externship can be more hands-off to more hands-on depending on what time of year you come and how much trauma comes in. From my experience, our externs enjoy their time with us.

Hope this was helpful!
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Smoking Monkey
7+ Year Member
Apr 15, 2011
Cincinnati, OH
Resident [Any Field]
Thanks for this. My application was just verified completed so I am quite interested in the program and thus found this very helpful! :)
Sep 13, 2015
Resident [Any Field]
Residents in the 6 year track pay for 3 years of medical school but there are a number of scholarships available through the department which help quite a bit. I have estimated that the cost of medical school for myself will be ~110,000. It is of note that you are paid your stipend during the 3rd year while enrolled in medical school. You are also paid for any time you spend on service during the first 2 years in medical school (either coming back for a week over breaks or taking call). Our stipends for PGY1 start at ~52,000 and increase to ~58,000 over the years on service. I have found the cost of living in Nashville to be very reasonable compared to some of the larger cities.

Based on what I found when I was interviewing, this is similar to the cost of tuition for other programs with top 20 ranked medical schools (Emory, UPenn, Pitt, Mass Gen, Columbia, UCSF). The 6 year residents, including myself, feel that the cost of tuition is well worth the education that you receive at Vanderbilt. I couldn't be happier with the residency program at Vandy and I really value the medical education I'm receiving.

I hope this information is helpful when thinking about applying to/interviewing at programs. I certainly wished there was more information available when I was applying...
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5+ Year Member
Apr 1, 2013
Dental Student
Thank you for writing this. Been interested in the program. I hope to get a chance to extern there next year.