How to Become a Forensic Medical Expert: Sure Guide

By | April 10, 2016
How to become a forensic medical expert

When you become a forensic medical expert, you will be relied upon to provide professional medical advice on legal issues. Image:

How to Become a Forensic Medical Expert: Sure Guide

Would you like to become a forensic medical expert and are looking for insight about it? If yes, then you are in the right place, this post has good information to help you chart a career in the field of forensic medicine, read on.

Who is a forensic medical expert?

Forensic medicine, also known as medical jurisprudence or legal medicine is the application and establishing of medical facts to legal (criminal and civil) issues.

Forensic medical experts are therefore professionals who provide medical advice in legal issues. Such legal issues may be relating to medical confidentiality, child paternity, mental illnesses, rape, violent injuries and even death.

Others may include competency to stand trials and medical malpractice trials, which have need of a medical professional to produce evidence and make an appearance in court as an expert witness.

The practice of medical jurisprudence began in the university of Edinburgh in 1807, and is concerned with a lot of medical, legal and ethical issues bothering on human rights and individual rights, because the duties of physicians also is to the interests of their patients.

Educational requirements and training in becoming a forensic medical expert

Before a choice is made on whether to enroll for a forensic medical degree program, you need to weight your personal interests’ against the requirements of a career in medical forensics.

The requirements vary greatly from whether it is an associate degree or a medical degree.

The field though a specialist field encompasses an extensive area of medical subjects, having such branches as forensics pathology, forensic odontology, forensic toxicology, and forensic nursing.

Training to become a forensic medical expert entails at least a four year program, earning a Doctor of Medicine degree.

To be able to practice as an expert in forensic medicine, you may be required to have a Bachelor’s degree first, preferably in the sciences.

Some people may even take up degrees in forensic science. The first two years of the training is often referred to as the pre-clinical years, while the latter two years are the clinical years.

Here, candidates are trained majorly to perform basic medical procedures, diagnose patients, interpret tests, and plan treatments.

The courses that students will take may include anatomy, pharmacology, physiology, and medical examinations.

Online courses also exist in forensic medicine by partaking in online classes, which entails virtual training and communication with professors and other students via chat rooms.

The course work requires intense study of biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics, and importantly, an internship with an expert forensic medical practitioner to gain more insight.

Forensic medical expert certifications

The American College of Forensic Examiner awards certification to medical experts in various levels:

  • Certified Medical Investigator I: Applicants must have five years practice in the related field, and have a firm understanding of forensic medicine.
  • Certified Medical Investigator II: Applicants must be CMI-I or a coroner, medical examiner, or forensic professional. They must also pass a second examination.
  • Certified Medical Investigator III: Applicants must have successfully passed the CMI-II and have 5 years’ experience in a forensic field. Exam here is more intense.
  • Certified Medical Investigator IV: Applicants must be a CM-III with a doctorate degree in a forensic medical field, and will have to pass a more intense exam.
  • Certified Medical Investigator V: Applicants must have also passed the CM-IV level with years of experience in forensic, investigative, and medical practice, and must be able to pass a final test.

Institutions for forensic medical training

A number of institutions provide courses in forensic medicine; Kaplan University, Liberty University, UEI College, South University, Blake Austin College, and West Coast University.

You can do a personal research on these schools to find the one that best suit your needs and convenience.

Roles, duties, and responsibilities of a forensic medical expert

Here are the duties and responsibilities you will likely perform working as an expert in forensic medicine:

A forensic medical expert works closely with the judicial system by offering medical opinion concerning legal issues by way of examining a patient and offering medical reports usually requested by one or either parties to any legal case, as an assistant to the court process rather than to any party to the case.

He/she may be needed to also appear as a witness to the court, having his/her opinion tested or cross examined to diminish any claim from the opposing side.

He/she interprets the needed facts based on medical knowledge and is expected to convey his/her findings without sentiments in areas usually involving anatomy, pathology, and psychiatry.

These experts may be featured where cases of suspected foul play is involved.

Forensic medical expert skills

The most important skill of a forensic medical expert is sound knowledge of the subject matter under contention; others are good communication skills and ability to properly convey findings and opinion.

Training in report writing and court room presentation are also of immense importance to the success of forensic medical experts.
Others include enjoying detailed complicated scientific procedures, math, and the sciences.

A number of other skills can be developed while passing through training.

Career opportunities for forensic medical experts

Experts in the forensic medical field are usually employed by the government; they can also work in private practice as consultants.

Experts who work as forensic medical practitioners may also gain additional knowledge to become:

  • Forensic physician assistants: Qualified to perform medical procedures.
  • Medical Examiner: Qualified to investigate and analyze legal cases that fall into categories like homicide, accidents, disaster, suspicious and unknown deaths, offering documentations, and oral reports to facilitate understanding.
  • Forensic Pathologist: Perform tests to determine information or cause of death or other malicious actions.
  • Crime Lab Director: Qualified to manage a team of technicians analyzing a criminal case.

Salary expectations for forensic medical expert

The US Bureau for Labor Statistics says there will be an increase in forensic medical experts as the year goes by, with average salaries going up as much as $189,000 annually.