What Are The Skills Required To Become A Successful Forensic Pathologist?

To become a qualified forensic pathologist requires a long process of dedication as it requires a long period of training (as long as 13 years) before you can get properly skilled to take up the job. You can consider an experienced one only if you work as one for at least 2 to 3 years which is during that time, that you can truly ask for a salary raise for yourself.

In this article, what we are going to discuss, are the relevant skills and experiences that you need to become a qualified forensic pathologist. Of course, in order for you to acquire the skills you need, you need to go for studies which can be a 4-year undergraduate degree from a recognized college. You can pick any type of degree you desire but you must ensure that the electives you choose must satisfy all the pre-requisites necessary to enter into the medical school you plan to get into. Once you entered into the medical school, you shall continue your studies there for another 4 years.

Your next journey of study will be a 3 to 5 year residency training program specialized in general pathology. During the program, you will be imparted with all the knowledge that is specific to pathology. This will add on to the 4 years of medical knowledge that you have acquire in previous 4 years. Upon completion, you still can’t be a forensic pathologist yet. You need to complete another 1 year of specialty training program in a medical examiner’s office or coroner’s office. This will be the last part of your study. If you add up all the years together, the entire academic period can be as long as 13 years.

To become a success forensic pathologist, you need not just only the pathology knowledge you have acquired during your academic days, you need personal skills too. If you wish to do well in this area, you have to be out-spoken and energetic. You need to be able to communicate well with people at all levels. If you speak well and have a clear mind, you can easily become an expert witness in court trials too. That’s when you can earn better than others.

Being a successful one, you cannot be too emotional and know how to deal with stress at all times. If you have legal and social background, it will be an added bonus for you in this career. Lastly, you need self-discipline and determination too. Without these, you tend to give up easily not only during your career, but also during your academic days.

Everybody hopes to become a qualified forensic pathologist and make a lot of money but the fact is, nothing comes easy in the real world today. Nobody is born with the skills required to become a successful one so it will be up to individuals whether or not they wish to succeed.

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How Much Does A Forensic Pathologist Make Every Year?

Forensic pathologists play a vital role in the world of criminal justice because they are the ones who determine the cause and manner of death of dead bodies by performing autopsy and examining them. Since their job is so important, naturally you would think that they are well paid. Consider that you are right because it is extremely specialized and before you can actually become one, you have to attain a minimum of 13 years of studies so that you can be qualified. It is a very high-regarded position which everyone is dreaming for, and at times, you are also required to be present in court cases to be the expert witnesses. So you are reading this article now because you are aspiring to become one and concerned about the salary and job prospects. Well, let us look into it now.

Similarly to any other types of specialization, the salaries for forensic pathologists would usually be greatly depending on their working experiences, level of responsibility as well as the geographical location he is working at. Another determining factor will be the environment and working hours.

Let’s talk about the average number of working hours that a typical forensic pathologist needs to work. Based on current standard, we should be looking at approximately 40 to 50 hours per week, which is approximately 8 to 9 hours per day. The working hours should be from 8:00 Am to 5:00 PM daily. You could be paid more if you work in odd hours of the day, or extended number of hours. As a rough estimate, junior forensic pathologist can earn from $60,000 a year, whilst a more experienced can earn as much as $600,000 a year. If you work hard enough to become a Chief Medical Examiner or Consultant, you can certainly command much higher salary but it comes with great responsibility too.

In USA, you can earn a maximum of $80,000 a year as a junior forensic pathologist. If you have 1 to 2 years of working experience, you can command $169,000 a year max. For those with 3 to 4 years, you would expect to make $321,000 a year. Maximum earning in USA for now is $610,000 a year.

Certain times, communication skills do play a part too especially if you can present yourself very well and can communicate with people at all levels. If you are good and experience in the witness stand, it will certainly be a bonus too. In terms of geographical locations, currently those working in New York are paid the highest.

So you have heard all these and are attracted to the highly paid salary, but have you really asked yourself do you really hope to become one? Or you are simply looking at the monetary returns? Make sure you know the answer before you take any action.

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Top Schools Or Colleges That Offer Forensic Pathology Degree

Forensic pathology is a highly specialized program that a medical student chooses to get into while he or she is still in med school. Usually, a student has to take and pass pathology courses and that is why you have to make sure that the med school that you are enrolled in offers such courses if you are really keen on becoming a pathologist.

Take note that you will not automatically have the title of “forensic pathologist” after you take the program. What you have is a degree as a Doctor of Medicine (M.D) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. This time of residency would take about 4 to 5 years. After which, another year would be allocated to study the topic. Luckily there are several schools available nowadays so those who are interested to start a degree in this field will not run out of options. After the residency, the student will then have to take the United States Medical Licensing Exam. Once you pass the exam and you are a certified medical doctor, you can head towards the path of pathology.

Forensic Pathology Colleges

Below is a list of some of the prominent forensic pathology colleges across the United States. It includes a brief description of the program to help you decide which one best suits you as a student.

  1. The University of California in San Francisco is one of the forensic science colleges that offer a degree in pathology. They also offer a fellowship in forensic pathology every year. If you are unsure on how to go about it and which specialization to take, do not worry because the counselor of the university will work closely with you and will offer you guidance on how to best achieve your goal in starting your career as a forensic pathologist.
  2. The New York Medical College is another one conveniently located in the up state of New York and they offer residency training at Westchester Medical Center and Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Center. The competition is pretty steep though since they only admit a total of 9 students in a yearly basis. If you are one of the lucky ones who got picked, you have the option of specialization once you have completed the first part of your residency.
  3. John Hopkins School of Medicine located in Baltimore has a slightly different program compared to other colleges as residents are allowed to do rotation in forensic pathology programs. It is interesting to note how extremely competitive it gets there but once you hold a degree, you are guaranteed to not have any problem finding a job. They allow their students to participate in daily autopsy gross conferences as well as surgical pathology case conferences that happen on a weekly basis as well.

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How To Write A Professional Forensic Pathologist Job Resume?

Once you are done with school, your residency and after you have passed the board exam, the next challenge for a forensic pathologist is finding a job and seeking a career. The first thing that you must do when you look for work is to prepare your resume. The question here is how can you write a resume that is professional enough so that you will be seriously considered for a position? You are a fresh graduate after all and they are probably looking for someone with experience. Don’t worry about it as you can still land into that job even though you do not have a lot of things to write under your “work experiences” section.

Here are some tips on how to write a good and professional forensic pathologist resume that will impress your prospective employers.

1.       The format of your resume is very important. If you want to make your resume look clean and professional, you better choose a format and stick to it to the end. For those who are fresh graduates and do not have much work experience, it is best to go for the functional style format. This would highlight your skills so list down every skill you learned from school and residency one by one. If you already have a bit of experience and you are confident with them, you can go for the chronological format wherein you will list all your work experiences by date.

2.       Always start your resume with an objective. Just be honest. There is no need to be highfaluting.

3.       List down all the duties that you have performed in the past. For fresh grads, list down what you did in your residency.

4.       Also remember to include all your certifications and the name of the agency that approved them along with the year that it was given to you. If you wish to give a photocopy of the certificate, you may submit it along with the resume. This would add validity to your claim.

5.       You must also list down the schools that you have attended as well as where your training was conducted. Make sure to include the year. If you attended seminars related to your field, include them as well. This would add credibility to your resume.

6.       If you have any material pertaining to forensic pathology that was published either in a magazine of newspaper or even online, list it down and provide a copy of your work. Reading it would make your resume look more appealing.

7.       Last, include all your associations in your forensic pathologist resume. Make it as specific as possible. Even the references of the people you have worked with, may be included too. This serves as a means that all the information that you listed on your resume is correct.

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What Are The Typical Job Scopes Or Work Activities For A Forensic Pathologist?

A career as a forensic pathologist is far from dull. In fact, it is almost just like how they are depicted in movies and TV shows. Their main task is to help uphold the law and justice by examining the victims of a crime. More often than not, people think of these people as those who spend hours in the lab conducting autopsies and while there is truth to that notion that only pertains to a portion of a forensic pathologist work activities. A forensic pathology professional does far more than conduct autopsies.

To begin with, they do not just deal with the dead. It is part of their work activities to examine even the victim who survived the crime. More often than not, traces of the crime are found in the body of the victim. There are usually scratches here and there, cuts in some areas, bruises where they have been hit and sometimes even strangling marks. Examining how “fresh” they are could be a useful piece of evidence to a crime. It gives the court a clearer picture of what actually happened during the time of the crime. On the other hand, examining the body of the victim could also serve as a verification of all the statements that he or she gave the police. This could either support or refute their accuracy.

Of course, it is a main part of their work activities to examine the dead by way of autopsy. This would determine exactly how the victim died, point out the type of weapon that could have been used for murder as well as the time that the victim finally took his or her last breath. In cases wherein there is no way to ID the victim, a forensic pathologist could help identify the victim so that the family could be informed.

A forensic pathologist is actually a medical doctor who is a degree holder of allopathic medicine or a doctorate in osteopathic medicine. It is an absolute must for them to be a board passer and have a license. There are even organizations such as the American Board of Pathology that offers certification. It is a must for them to have good credentials because they are being used in important crime investigations. Hence, their work activities must be conducted with utmost precision and extreme accuracy.

The body of a victim that is delivered to a forensic pathologist is often involved deaths that are unexpected, sudden or in most cases, violent. By conducting studies, a forensic pathologist would be able to determine if it is a homicide, suicide, an accident or if the death was due t natural causes. If foul play is involved, making a crime look like it was an accident, it is part of a forensic pathologist work activities to assess it and make sure that the truth comes out. Upon doing all those, a forensic pathologist may be called as a witness.

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What Are The Forensic Pathology Careers And Jobs Available?

In a nutshell, forensic pathology is a branch of science that mainly deals with determining how a victim died by way of examining the body. This is done for the purpose of upholding justice by way of aiding criminal investigators. Whatever conclusion would come out of the examination will be used in the court prosecution. That is why there are instances wherein a forensic pathologist is called to testify in a court case.

Due to the heavy load that is placed upon the shoulders of forensic pathologists, years of intensive schooling is required. These are some of the forensic pathology careers available in the market today.

  1. Among the common careers for forensic pathologist is working in a coroner’s office. This entails hours and hours working in a laboratory day in and day out. In fact, the lab becomes the home of the forensic pathologist. This type of job mainly entails performing a series of tests such as autopsy in order to determine the cause and the time of death. In fact, this type of scientist does so much more than perform autopsy. They also examine tissue samples and the blood to check for the presence of toxins.
  2. Another career path that a forensic pathologist can take is to work for the government or the state as a medical examiner. The job description will not be much different from what one in a coroner’s office does. Again, it involves examining bodies and even victims who survived the attacker so that the evidence can be used at court. Due to the nature of their job as they are often called to court in order to testify and share their findings from the examinations that they conducted. It is a fact that whatever conclusion they come up with is heavily valued when making a decision regarding a criminal case.
  3. Among the forensic pathologist careers, perhaps the less popular one is to opt to be a professor to train future forensic pathologists. Of course, to be a professor, you also need hands on experience in the field so you may still have to work in a coroner’s office or as a medical examiner for some time. After that, you can choose to pass whatever knowledge you have to students who choose to take the same path as yours in forensic pathology.

Forensic pathology careers seem to be moving today more than it did during the past years. In horizon for those with a degree in this field is very promising indeed. In fact, the opportunities are growing at a steady pace and those who are licensed should have a relatively easy time landing a job. According to HealthCare-Training Cetner.com, “Pathology is become extremely important due to the current tendency toward electronic medical records and medical informatics, which is becoming the new standard for patient care.” From what it seems, a career in forensic pathology seems to be the way to go.

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What Are The Degree Programs Available To Become A Forensic Pathologist?

Becoming a forensic pathologist does not happen overnight. In fact it can take years – 13 years after high school, to be exact – before you can become a certified practitioner of forensic pathology. Once you are certified and licensed, you can start doing what forensic pathologists usually do such as work in a laboratory and conduct autopsies and other tests that are pertinent to a case that is currently being investigated. Before that happens however, you need to have an academic degree and these are the prerequisites in order to for you to have a career in the field.

There are all sorts of requirements that you have to meet before you can get a certification in forensic pathology and be a true blue pathologist. To begin with, you must already be a graduate of any 4 year course in a university or a college. After that, you need another four years training in medicine and getting licensed as a doctor. Once you have accomplished that, you are then ready to apply for a certification program to get a forensic pathology degree.

Remember, than having a degree in medicine is not the same as having a forensic pathology degree because after your college education and taking medicine after that, you still need a degree in in that field. This type of program is subdivided into two and for you to be certified, you must simultaneously do them. The first subdivision is lecture and you have a preset curriculum for this. Second, will be hands on training in either a hospital or a university. Residency can take about 4 to 5 years except for anatomical pathology which only takes 3 years and about one year of credentialing. After residency, the next step towards a forensic pathology degree  is training.

Once you are done with residency, you have to undergo training and learn from a certified forensic pathologist in action. Here, you will be able to practice what you learned during your residency under close supervision. You will experience conducting autopsies to determine the time and cause of death. Other forms of investigation will also come into play such as photographic, radiologic, microbiologic and toxicology studies. It is most helpful that a certified forensic pathologist is around to help you during this stage when you are still in the process of obtaining a degree.

After your residence and training, you are then ready to take (and hopefully pass) the American Board of Pathology exam. Once you pass this, then congratulations, you would have then achieved the degree that you have always dreamed of.

The road to getting a forensic pathology degree is not easy. It takes a lot of work and effort on the part of the student. This does not even begin to mention the years that you would spend to earn a degree. That is because forensic pathology requires people who are truly dedicated, smart and talented in what they do.

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How To Become A Forensic Pathologist?

Perhaps it is media or the growing need to uphold justice in today’s society but whatever the cause is, there is a noticeable increase in the interest of people on criminal investigation. As a result, the number of individuals who want to pursue a career in forensic pathology seems to be getting bigger and bigger.

Mind you though, it is never as easy as how they portray it on TV. Yes, it seems really cool (which it is) but it entails a lot of hard work on the part of the practitioner. To begin with, it does not happen overnight. In fact, it takes years of schooling and education, plenty of brain draining tests to pass (hopefully with flying colors) and dealing with the dead bodies (hopefully you are not too iffy about this). Those, however who really dedicated their lives as a forensic pathologist find it ultimately fulfilling and rewarding. Their financial earnings are not too shabby either. In order to accomplish that however, there are some standards that you have to meet. Here are the forensic pathologist requirements and qualifications.

  1. As mentioned earlier, being a licensed forensic pathologist takes years so if you are determined to become one, you have to plan ahead, starting with your college undergrad course. You must start working for the requirements that early. Remember that you have to go to med school after so you might as well take a course that is relevant such as anatomy, psychology and other science courses. You may want to brush up on your communication skills as well since you will have to write detailed reports, testify in courts and talk to bereaved.
  2. The next step is to get into the medical school of your choice. Make sure that they have a pathology program to make things simpler for you. It is also wise for you to take elective classes that would aid you in acquiring the requirements. If you can secure an internship with a licensed forensic pathologist, that would be even better.
  3. Completing a residency program is among the requirements that you have to meet. You can either take anatomic pathology which takes 3 years or clinical pathology which takes 4 years. During your residency, you will learn how to analyze tissue samples and testify when asked to in court.
  4. You then have to get a one year fellowship. This can happen either in the office of a medical examiner or the coroner’s office. It may require you to spend of hours in a laboratory.
  5. The last step is to take (and pass) the board exams conducted by the American Board of Pathology. After which, have completed all the requirements here and you are considered a licensed forensic pathologist. At this time, you can look for a job and start living your dream of being one.

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Who Is A Forensic Pathologist?

If there is one thing that a forensic pathologist is not, he or she must not be iffy about dead bodies and blood because it is part of their profession to examine it and find out everything that happened to the victim prior to death. Of course, determining the cause and time of death is also within their area of responsibility. So who are forensic pathologists? What do they do and why is their job so important? One way to describe this person is to call him or her a medical doctor. He or she is expected to conduct tests on victims of a crime – both dead and alive.

Contrary to popular belief, a forensic pathologist does not only do autopsy of dead bodies (although that is most certainly part of the job description) but he or she is also tasked to examine a living victim. Pathologists who conduct those tests are called clinical forensic pathologists. Some of them, however, are able to examine both living and dead victims. One way that the services are useful is when he or she cross examines the statement of the victim based on the facts gathered by the tests that were conducted prior to the prosecution.

Again, a forensic pathologist also examines the body of the dead victim. He or she checks for toxins in the blood to find out if it has anything to do with the death, tissue samples are also collected and tested. It is his job to determine how a victim died as well as the ultimate cause of death. The time is also determined by conducting the tests. Through forensic pathology, investigators are able to get a better understanding of what truly transpired during the time of the crime.

Of course, a forensic pathologist does not just do autopsies but he or she also determines if the victim put up a fight prior to death. Taking a look at an attacked victim, you will more likely see scratch and hit marks, bruises, cuts here and there and these all signifies that the victim fought for his or her life. Sometimes there are strangling marks which shows an attempt to suffocate the victim. By doing this, he is able to paint a clearer picture of the struggle prior to the death of the victim.

A forensic pathologist does more than examine evidences to aid crime investigation. From time to time, he or she may be called by the court to testify and share what he or she discovered in the series of test and experimentation. This could pertain to both the living victim and the ones who did not survive. This, however, does not take the place of filing a written report so as one; you must be able to thoroughly explain how the experiment was conducted and the finding that you got from it.

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What Is Forensic Pathology?

In order to define what forensic pathology is, let us first break it down so we can get a clear understanding of the term. The word “forensic” literally means “pertaining to or used in a court law”. It usually involves utilizing the field of science and technology in order to investigate and hopefully solve a crime by getting concrete evidence that could help determine if the accused is innocent or guilty without reasonable doubt. On the other hand, the word “pathology” is a field of science that studies diseases. Combined, forensic pathology pertains of using pathology for legal purposes.

Let us say that there is a crime and the body of the victim was left behind, studying the body to determine the cause of death and when the victim was killed is within the branch of forensic pathology. One of the processes that they do to close criminal investigation is to study the body fluids as well as the tissue samples. This is done so they can determine if there were toxins involved that could have possibly killed the victim. These are helpful pieces of evidence that are important in solving a crime. Even if a criminal went to the lengths of suffocating a person and submerging him or her to make it appear like the person drowned, a forensic pathologist would be able to pinpoint such foul play.

A forensic pathologist however does more than determine the cause and the time death; they also take a close look at the victim to check for defensive marks or anything that would signify that the victim fought back the attacker. Studying the body is known as autopsy and this is something that a forensic pathologist deals with due to their career. In instances where in the body cannot be retrieved, it is up to the practitioners of forensic pathology to look for available materials in the crime scene that could serve as pieces of evidence during the investigation and prosecution that will shortly follow.

Aside from being an expert in the human anatomy, a practitioner in this field is expected to have several other skills. For one, it is vital for any piece of evidence to not be compromised even in the smallest way since this could determine the outcome of the prosecution. Evidence could even be lost as it will no longer be admitted to court once its authenticity is proven to be tainted. Hence, a forensic pathologist must have the ability to properly and systematically collect and keep evidence. After all the experimentation and testing, an expert in this field may be called to testify on the witness stand and explain the results of the tests that were conducted. This is proven to be most useful in carrying on justice.

Forensic pathology is one of the more challenging fields of science because it requires precision at work. After all, the findings in the lab helps greatly in determining whether the accused is innocent and should be set free of guilty and should be brought to justice.

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