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Intersection of Criminal Investigation and Medicine



“The great and constant need of those who investigate homicide and practice forensic pathology or criminal law is a warm humanism.” - Ramsey Clark

The typical image of a doctor is a medical professional who observes indicators of abnormalities or diseases, performs surgical procedures, and prescribes medications to individuals. However, did you know that the medical degree can also be utilized for taking part in criminal investigations and examining the traumas that the deceased experienced in their final moments? If you are interested in pursuing a track in which there is an overlap of criminal justice and medicine, then this article is for you. Keep reading to discover more about this specialty!


This specialty involves assessing the bodies of people who had unexpected, suspicious deaths and sustained violent injuries. Before collaborating with law enforcement authorities and presenting the data in court hearings, autopsies must be performed to determine the possible causes of death and to obtain the necessary evidence of injuries or possible diseases. Through employing the proper medical procedures, one could observe the cultures of body fluids, tissue samples, and traces of infection. This could help the officials in envisioning the events that transpired before the unfortunate passing. Furthermore, a forensic pathologist can notify the remaining members of the family of hereditary diseases that have been successfully identified in the process.


The journey towards becoming a forensic pathologist or a medical examiner involves a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree (MD or DO). Additionally, one must receive training in anatomic, clinic, or forensic pathology for an average of four to five years. Additionally, one must have a residency or fellowship either in emergency medicine or forensic pathology. To attain a license to practice in the field, the individual would have to pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). A board certification provided by the American Board of Pathology should also be achieved.


In order to thrive in this field, one must have the strength and courage to withstand the aspects of dissecting a deceased individual’s body. Gory injuries and foul odors are frequently encountered in this profession; therefore, this is not for the faint of heart. Furthermore, one must have proficient communication skills especially since there is the demonstration of facts and results in court as well as defense of such from lawyers. The ability to confidently relay the related information is definitely an advantage. Moreover, compassion and a strong sense of justice are needed to empathize with certain heartbreaking situations and to obtain the necessary information which could lead to the apprehension of perpetrators and prevention of future occurrences of such criminal activities.


In a nutshell, forensic pathology is indeed a fascinating and thrilling field because it serves as a societal branch of justice and ensures that perpetrators are given the apprehensions that they deserve for their immoral actions. Choose forensic pathology!



Thank you for reading this post!

Oriana Tolentino



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