Forensic Medical Examiners, or FMEs, are senior and independent doctors who are experts in investigating any suspicious or unusual death and injuries. They can help to assist in different cases that involve violent crimes. A forensic Medical examiner can offer a comprehensive analysis of any medical materials to strengthen the case.
What Is Forensic Medical Examiner – Overview
A forensic examiner is a doctor who has extensive training in pathology. They can also be called forensic pathologists. Their primary responsibility is to determine the cause and manner of a person’s death. They can assist with the investigation outside of a laboratory as well.
Some forensic medical examiners are trained to consultant levels in pediatrics, gynecology, surgery, or any other clinical specialty. Some may have a background in general medicine.
Some of their areas of work are-
- Examining the complaints of sexual assaults
- Examining children’s injuries after any sexual or physical abuse
- Working in custody suites and many more
Roles and Responsibilities of a Forensic Medical Examiner
A forensic medical examiner is always involved in an investigation’s different legal and medical aspects. They need to figure out if a person’s death is natural, International, or accidental from a medical perspective. They can work with forensic scientists, technicians, investigators, and other specialists to collect more information about the case. It is not always necessary to perform the autopsy all the time to create the official death report.
A forensic medical examiner mostly works with lawyers and police from a legal perspective while investigating a crime scene.
The major responsibilities of a forensic medical examiner are-
- Recording the details about a body, even the weight of each organ
- Taking samples of various body fluids
- Supervising and taking pictures of the body
- When required, perform scans and X-rays of the body
- Testing crime scene evidence, including witness statements
- Studying the medical history of deceased people
- Performing autopsy to see if there is evidence of any injury or disease
- Using specialized knowledge in the areas like serology, anatomy, toxicology, DNA, and firearms
- Collecting and recording any medical evidence from the body
- Coordinating work with law enforcement’s operations
- Making sure that the evidence collection follows the right procedure
- Offering to counsel to the family members about the cause of death of the deceased person
- Performing physical examinations and lab tests requested by the district attorney or the court
- Helping with the examination of living people in a criminal case
- Working alone in a laboratory for hours
- Testifying their findings in court when required
- Providing death certificates
7 Steps to Become a Forensic Medical Examiner
The work of a forensic medical examiner takes time and effort. One should have a bachelor’s degree and a DO (doctor of osteopathic medicine) or MD (medical doctor). They are also required to have residency training in forensic pathology.
Step 1: High School Graduation or GED
Students can start preparation for forensic medical examiner while they are in high school. Any good bachelor’s program requires a GED or a high school diploma to apply. Interested students must excel in their coursework, especially biology and other science classes.
Step 2: An Undergraduate Degree
Medical school admissions are overly competitive. Individuals who want to be medical examiners must excel in their undergraduate courses. Students can choose a similar field, like chemistry or biology, to make their journey smoother.
Step 3: Complete Medical School
To complete the application process, a student must submit all their letters of recommendation, academic work, and Medical College Admission Exam scores.
Students take physiology, advanced anatomy, and microbiology courses and must also learn clinical practice.
Step 4: Medical License
You can earn a medical license by completing their board examination, the United States Medical College Licensing Exam or USMLE. It consists of three exams at the beginning and a final exam after one year of residency.
Licensing requirements can vary in different states. One should determine where they plan to live before collecting their license.
Step 5: Pursue Residency
Students need to start practicing on Independence Day and begin a full-time residency. Medical examiners can show their residency in pathology. They can also choose any residency that includes forensic pathology and autopsy training as a part of their program.
Step 6: Medical Examiner Fellowship
Doctors need to choose a fellowship to specialize in a medical examination career. They can take a specialty training fellowship after completing their residency. This fellowship often takes place at the office of a government-run medical examiner. It can allow doctors to increase their focus on different aspects of their careers.
Step 7: Professional Network
Building a professional network is very important for an aspiring medical examiner. Medical examiners can be appointed to various offices. Their hiring process is different than other medical specialties. It is always beneficial for them to attend any networking event, like a conference.
Only highly dedicated people can become forensic medical examiners. A person needs to spend around 12 years studying and training in pathology in forensic science to achieve this career.
The primary role of a forensic medical examiner is to investigate any suspicious or unusual injuries or death. They help to solve crimes and figure out the right reasons behind death.
Only a dedicated person can become a forensic medical examiner because it requires years of training and education to start a career in this field. Therefore, to become a forensic medical examiner, you must set your goal and start working hard.