Medical Examiners, sometimes called Forensic Pathologists, investigate the circumstances that caused a person’s death by examining the body. They determine the cause of death in criminal cases and in other situations where the death was suspicious. To do this, they analyze organs, tissue and fluids. Medical Examiners write reports of their findings and they may testify in court about their conclusions.
Medical Examiners are medically licensed physicians. To obtain their certification, they must earn a bachelor’s degree and an M.D. (doctor of medicine) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degree. They then go on to complete a residency, usually in pathology.
Because they are often participating in criminal investigations, Medical Examiners must also have a basic understanding of forensics and the protocols for dealing with physical evidence from a crime scene.
In addition to formal education, people interested in becoming Medical Examiners should spend time working in a medical examiner’s office if possible, and visit the web sites of professional organizations such as the National Association of Medical Examiners.