Medical Examiner Education requirements

March 23, 2016
Scene of a murder in the 100
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Method 1

Taking Preliminary Steps
  1. Learn about the career. A medical examiner is a difficult career for a variety of reasons. Before you commit yourself to the career path, take some time to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of the career.
    • A medical examiner is similar to a coroner. Your job would be to identify deceased persons and determine the cause of death. You would also conduct toxicology reports, autopsies, and locate sites of trauma and determine time of death. The difference is, a medical examiner is appointed while a coroner is elected. Also, coroners are not always medical doctors but medical examiners are.
    • If a death is the result of a crime, you may also travel to the scene of an accident to collect evidence and conduct interviews.
    • Medical examiners positions tend to pay well. Average pay is over $180, 000 a year. However, pay is contingent on experience and location. Some states may pay less.
    • Given the nature of the work, it can be a stressful and emotionally demanding position. Give serious consideration to whether you can deal with death on a daily basis. The deaths can be quite gruesome at times. If possible, talk to medical examiner and ask them how they cope with the job emotionally.
  2. Start in high school. If you want to be a medical examiner, your education path should begin early as you'll need 8 to 12 years of higher education after obtaining a high school degree.
    • Start looking into programs as early as sophomore or junior year. Get a sense of which undergraduate schools offer competitive, respectable science programs and what you can do to boost your chances of being accepted to one of these schools.
    • Take a lot of science courses, aiming for AP curriculum later in high school. You should also study hard for any standardized tests, such as the ACT and SATS, you might need to take. Pay particular attention to the science and math sections, as a high score in these areas can help you get accepted into your chosen college after graduation.
    • Look for science-related internships or volunteer experiences in high school.Image titled Become a Medical Examiner Step 2 Ask your teachers and guidance counselor about opportunities.
    • Some schools allow high school students to enroll in low level science courses during their senior year. See if this a possibility in your school. It's something you might want to look into if you want to improve your college application.
    • You will also want to be a well-rounded individual. Colleges don't just look at grades and science activities. They look to make sure a candidate is active and interested in other areas. Good examples of activities include band, team sports, volunteering organizations, and after-school groups.
  3. Take advantage of your undergraduate education. Your career path begins in college. As a medical degree is a must if you want to become a medical examiner, you need to take a pre-med curriculum as an undergraduate student.
    • You should find a school with a good reputation for pre-med curriculum, as having a degree from a recognizable school can increase your chances of getting into a good medical school. You can find rankings of different degree programs online and ask your high school guidance counselor.
    • For the most part, pre-med students major in biology or bio-chemistry. These programs are offered in most 4-year colleges. Going for a degree with a pre-med focus will involve classes in cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and microbiology. Talk to your college counselor about what your course curriculum should look like semester by semester.
    • Seek out internships and other experience. Medical related volunteer work, internships, and jobs look great on a pre-med application. Seek out experience in your area by asking professors, advisers, and fellow students to help you find opportunities.
    • Certifications, such as CPR, can easily be obtained during college.Image titled Become a Medical Examiner Step 3 Certain medical positions, such as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), only require a high school degree. Doing EMT work part time in college or over the summers can really make your med school application stand out.
    • Junior and senior year, begin researching and touring medical schools. If you do tour, try to make connections. Send follow up e-mails to anyone you meet and strive to stay in touch. Making a good impression on an administrator or a professor can help your application for med school stand out.
    • Graduate schools look to see that the candidate is well-rounded and is pursuing interests like team sports, volunteering, band, and other campus activities.
  4. Take the Medical College Admission Test. The Medical College Admissions Tests (MCAT) is the standardized test most medical schools require for admission. Getting a high score on the MCAT is important if you want to get into a good med school.
    • The MCAT consists of four multiple choice sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.
    • There are a variety of ways to study for the MCAT. You can buy online study guides, books, or take paid prep-courses through a program like Kaplan.
    • You register for the exam online, on a date that is convenient to you. On the test day, you need to check in with an administer and show a valid form of ID. Your fingerprints will be digitally taken and a test day photograph will be taken.
    • You can retake the exam if you do not like your score. The MCAT exam can be taken 3 times in a single year, 4 times in a 2 year period, and 7 times in a lifetime.
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