Medical Examiners Education

Those who are interested in becoming a medical examiner should start considering it after high school, however they do not need to. There are degrees offered in related fields, such as forensic science, however a bachelor’s degree in forensic science isn’t necessarily required (though it can be helpful) to land the job of your dreams. Undergrad students should focus on the principles behind pathology; chemistry, biology, and physics instead. They will need experience and education in these disciplines to help them make it through medical school.

Once a bachelor’s degree is obtained, a prospective medical examiner needs to then earn either a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) by entering into a medical school. The student may choose a major in any medical field. Most medical schools do not have programs in forensic pathology, but some offer courses in the subject. Still, pathology and forensic pathology courses are offered in some medical schools, so if you know ahead of time that you want to become a medical examiner, you should definitely focus on them. Most medical students do not know which field they will enter into, whether it be general or family practice or pathology. The discipline in which a student wants to pursue is usually decided during the last year of medical school and then residencies and internships are focused on the area of interest.

After you’ve obtained your doctoral degree, you must then enter a residency program in pathology and forensic pathology (which is currently a 5-year process). Once your residency is complete, you are then qualified to sit for the exam (given by the American Board of Pathology) to become board certified in pathology and forensic pathology. In all, it takes an additional 8-13 years of education after high school to become a medical examiner.

Passing the Exam

Medical examiners or forensic pathologists are not required to become ‘licensed’ in order to practice. Instead, they are certified through two separate exams given by the American Board of Pathology. The two exams are the primary and subspecialty certification examinations. The primary exam is the basic pathology (anatomic and/or clinical pathology). The other exam is called the forensic pathology examination and it’s for ones subspecialty certification. The cost for taking each exam is $1,800.00, and the applications and registration forms are completely separate from one another. Payment must be paid in full.

To learn more about this two exams, such as dates, locations and times when the exams are next given, please visit The American Board of Pathology website by clicking here.

http://www.abpath.org/PATHwayAppInstructions.pdf

Courses to Consider During College

During high school, you should consider taking courses such as:

  • Science
  • Chemistry
  • Humanities
  • Anatomy
  • Physics
  • Foreign Language

During your undergraduate level, you should consider taking courses such as:

  • Humanities
  • Psychology
  • Anatomy
  • Pathology
  • Physiology
  • Science
  • Chemistry
  • Biology

During medical school, you should consider taking courses such as:

  • Forensic Pathology
  • Anthropology
  • Anatomy
  • Pathology
  • Physiology
  • Forensic Anthropology

Remember, you don’t have to know what you want to be in high school, but if you do, there are certain courses and subjects you can start studying now to familiarize yourself with the language, terminology, science and overall basics of each subject, which will only benefit and allow you to stay ahead of the class in the future.

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