A ‘Humble Yet Transformative’ Leader

By Erika D. Peterman, FMA Managing Editor


In recognition of his “humble yet transformative” involvement in the FMA’s CME endeavors, retired Miami pathologist Stephen E. Vernon, MD, received the 2022 FMA Award of Distinguished Service — the association’s highest honor — in the House of Delegates on Sunday, Aug. 7. Dr. Vernon has shared his time and expertise in support of the FMA’s Education Department for more than 30 years, and his leadership was vital in elevating the CME program to its status as a nationally accredited continuing medical education provider.

“Everything that he has achieved for the FMA has been done quietly and behind the scenes, with no regard for credit or glory,” said Zachary Wilson, MD, who was a medical student when he met Dr. Vernon in 2009 and, in 2021, became his successor as Chair of the FMA Committee on Accreditation and CME. “Dr. Vernon is a natural leader, an excellent role model, and an exemplary physician.”

“Dr. Vernon is a natural leader, an excellent role model, and an exemplary physician.”


A native of Auburndale in Polk County, Dr. Vernon was in the inaugural class of the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, where he worked his way through school and earned his medical degree in 1974. He joined the FMA in 1981, just two years after completing a residency at UCLA Medical Center and returning to Florida begin his pathology career in private practice. Dr. Vernon started the accredited CME program at Mercy Hospital around 1990 and was first appointed to the former FMA Committee on Accreditation (now the Committee on Accreditation and CME) in 1992. He has served on the committee almost continuously since then, acting as Chair from 2010 to 2021.

“Dr. Vernon’s leadership and wise counsel have bolstered the educational efforts of not only the Florida Medical Association, but also the local hospitals and societies that the FMA accredits,” said FMA Senior Vice President of Education & Membership Melissa Carter. “He leaves a lasting legacy, and thankfully, through his thoughtful mentorship, we have several physicians trained and ready to step up to fill the void that he will leave.”

During his long career, Dr. Vernon worked as an attending pathologist in several Miami hospitals, served as an associate medical examiner in two Florida counties, and was Clinical Associate Professor of Pathology at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, where he now holds Emeritus status. He is a Past President of the Florida Society of Pathologists (FSP) and an Associate Professor of Pathology at the NSU Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine. Additionally, he teaches residents in HCA Florida Westside Hospital’s Pathology GME program.

Though retired from clinical practice, Dr. Vernon continues to enjoy eclectic hobbies such as fishing, traveling with his wife, Fei, volunteering at a local garden in Miami, and horticulture. His lifelong love of science and exploring the natural world is evident in a current experiment: a years-long effort to cultivate a smaller, lighter pineapple variant so that the stalk will not topple onto the ground and get burned on one side by the sun. As he said in an FSP interview, “There is so much to learn and so little time!”