In Summary - Forensic Pathologist
Forensic Pathologists typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - Forensic Pathologist
The day-to-day work of a Forensic Pathologist is performing autopsies, for example in a case of a stabbing, shooting or head injury, which are common methods of homicide.
Autopsies are usually carried out under the authority of the State coroner, with police present.
The work of a Forensic Pathlogist also involves attendance at court cases and the coroner’s court, to explain medical issues to juries as well as relatives.
Forensic pathologists are supported in their work by clinical, biomedical and forensic scientists. Scientists can specialise, for example, in DNA fingerprinting or the identification of plant material and fibres.
This career area also gives you the opportunity of working with non-medical personnel such as police, barristers and lawyers.
Forensic Pathologists also undertake opinion work for lawyers or other organisations. This may be on behalf of a defendant on a murder charge, or acting in civil proceedings.
Forensic Pathology does not fall within the remit of the health service.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Examine microscopic samples to identify diseases or other abnormalities.
- Diagnose diseases or study medical conditions using techniques such as gross pathology, histology, cytology, cytopathology, clinical chemistry, immunology, flow cytometry, and molecular biology.
- Write pathology reports summarizing analyses, results, and conclusions.
- Identify the etiology, pathogenesis, morphological change, and clinical significance of diseases.
- Analyze and interpret results from tests such as microbial or parasite tests, urine analyses, hormonal assays, fine needle aspirations (FNAs), and polymerase chain reactions (PCRs).
- Communicate pathologic findings to surgeons or other physicians.
- Read current literature, talk with colleagues, or participate in professional organizations or conferences to keep abreast of developments in pathology.
- Consult with physicians about ordering and interpreting tests or providing treatments.
- Plan and supervise the work of the pathology staff, residents or visiting pathologists.
- Review cases by analyzing autopsies, laboratory findings, or case investigation reports.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Interests - Forensic Pathologist
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and are drawn to commerce, trade and making deals. Some pursue sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or in management roles in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
Forensic Pathology is a specialist area that requires good communication skills, as well as an ability to work under pressure and a flexible approach to the working day, as much of the work is unpredictable.
Entry Requirements - Forensic Pathologist
You can only become a Forensic Pathologist after graduating from medical school and completing foundation training.
Specialist Forensic Pathology training is not currently available in Ireland.
In the UK: Forensic pathology is a specialised branch of histopathology and those intending to pursue a career in forensic pathology should first train in histopathology. The run-through training programme is a minimum of five years postgraduate training. Training in forensic pathology will begin after approximately two to three years of training in histopathology and acquisition of Part 1 of the membership examination of the Royal College of Pathologists (MRCPath) in the UK.
Last Updated: November, 2014
Pay & Salary - Forensic Pathologist
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 100k - 200k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.