How to Become a Forensic Pathologist

If you are a fan of crime scene investigation television shows, you may be wondering how to become a forensic pathologist. This career choice is something between being a doctor and a police detective. The forensic pathologist must gather clues to determine how a person died and whether a crime has been committed. Needless to say, a pathologist must have a strong stomach to perform his or her duties.

Part of the work that forensic pathologists do is to offer expert testimony in court. Someone who has an outgoing personality would do well in this role.

Since this job involves sharing information with lawyers, judges and the media, good communication skills are very important. Forensic pathologists must also be able to think clearly and logically. Having an excellent eye for detail is also essential for success in this role.

Forensic pathologists also deal with family members of the deceased, and a certain amount of empathy is needed to communicate with people who are in shock and grieving for a loved one.

Education Required to Become a Forensic Pathologist

You can start the process of preparing for a career as a forensic pathologist in high school. Make a point of taking a number of math and science courses, including biology, chemistry and physics. Since communication is such an important part of this job, taking courses in English and composition will also be helpful.

The next step to become a forensic pathologist is to complete a Bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry or applied sciences. These degree programs will help to prepare you for the courses you will be taking in medical school

Before you apply to a medical school, you will need to write the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). The results of this multiple-choice exam are submitted along with your other application materials. The admissions committee will consider your test scores, along with your GPA (Grade Point Average) from your undergraduate studies when deciding whether to send you an acceptance letter.

The educational program to obtain your Medical Doctor (M.D.) degree is four years long. During this time, you will take courses in the following subjects:

• Allergy
• Anatomy
• Anesthesiology
• Cell Biology
• Family Medicine
• General Surgery
• Genetics
• Gross Anatomy
• Internal Medicine
• Microbiology
• Molecular Biology
• Obstetrics & Gynecology
• Orthopedics
• Pediatrics
• Neurology
• Neurosurgery
• Pathology
• Pediatrics
• Pharmacology
• Psychiatry
• Radiology
• Surgery
• Trauma
• Urology

You will be qualified as a physician when you complete the requirements for your MD degree, but you aren’t finished the training to become a forensic pathologist. You will need to complete a residency training program in general pathology. This training will last from three-five years.

Once the residency program has been completed, you will complete a training program in forensic pathology at a coroner’s or medical examiner’s office. This year-long program is the final step in the process to become a forensic pathologist, and you may need to travel to a large metropolitan area to complete it if you live in a small town.

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