Becoming a Forensic Pathologist

Forensic Pathologists use their specialized knowledge of anatomy to conduct autopsy and determine the exact cause of death. They also establish the links between injuries and deaths and play a vital role in police investigation. They usually examine body tissues and fluids in a morgue or laboratory, which is no easy task.

Educational Requirements: There are four steps in academics and training to become a Forensic Pathologist.

  1. Medical School Training: Forensic Pathologists are required to obtain either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.). These programs are offered at medical schools. The tenure of these courses is four years. Getting into a medical school, may require strong knowledge in mathematics and science. During the course, the students will study anatomy, physiology, microbiology and medical law. They may be put into several training sessions to gain experience in internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery and obstetrics.
  1. Residency Programs: After completing the four-year medical school training, the aspirants will have to go for residency programs, which usually take 3-4 years. Residencies offer several facilities such as clinical experience, diagnosing disease and treating patients in hospital set ups.
  1. Licensing: The Forensic Pathologists must obtain license by passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination.
  1. Forensic Pathology Fellowships: It would be advisable for the doctors to complete an one-year fellowship in Forensic Pathology for the purpose of specialization. These programs are normally directed by the Chief Medical Examiner either at the city or state office. Fellowships also help in getting real-life experience in performing autopsies.

Certification: The Forensic Pathologists must be certified by the American Board of Pathology in order to be eligible to practice. Candidates, who complete a medical degree and subsequent residency and fellowship training, are eligible to obtain certification.

Salary & Wages: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the salary of Forensic Pathologists as of 2013, was around $187,199. The BLS has projected the job outlook in this profession to increase 18% during the period of 2012-2022.

In addition to holding degrees, training and expertise to perform the tasks, the Forensic Pathologists also need to possess very good communication skills so that they can contribute their bit as experts or witnesses during a trial. They must have the analytical skills and sharp brain to respond to any kind of situation.