WHEN it comes to death, there are certain people responsible for determining things such as cause and timing.
These various roles can be achieved through schooling, or by appointment or election.
What's a medical examiner?
A medical examiner is first and foremost a physician.
According to HSC, when acting in an official capacity, the physician medical examiner is charged, within a particular jurisdiction, with the investigation and examination of persons dying a sudden, unexpected or violent death and with determining the cause and manner of the death.
The different manners of death include homicide, suicide, accidental, natural or undetermined.
As a physician, the medical examiner is expected to have medical knowledge of the deceased and how and why they died. Their job is to bring forth the medical history and a physical examination.
As a medical examiner is not required to be an expert in death investigation or pathology, they are allowed to receive the training no matter what branch of medicine they practice.
Medical examiners can take training to increase their levels of medical expertise as applied to death investigations.
What's a coroner?
A coroner is an appointed or elected public official, chosen to examine deaths in certain categories.
Their main role is to make inquiry into the death and complete the death certificate.
The term coroner comes from the medieval term crowner, which referred to those responsible for making sure death dues were paid to the king.
Coroners are responsible for assigning the cause of death and listing it on the death certificate, as well as deciding whether the death was natural or inflicted by outstanding circumstances.
It's the job of a coroner to determine whether or not a death is considered foul play.
How do you become a medical examiner or a coroner?
To become a medical examiner, one must first become a physician. This requires both a bachelor's degree and the completion of medical school.
Followed by that comes the earning of a medical license and residency. After the completion of residency, one can apply for a medical examiner's fellowship.
Other jobs within the medical examiner's field that don't require a doctorate are forensic autopsy technicians and forensic pathologist assistants. These roles work alongside the medical examiner, assisting with things like autopsies and determining cause of death.
To become a coroner, one must obtain their bachelor's degree in one of the natural sciences. These sciences can include biology, chemistry, physics, or forensic science.
Next, one needs certain certifications. Depending on locality, certain coroners must be certified death investigators.
There's basic registry certification, which verifies that one has basic knowledge and proficiency in death investigation.
There's also the advanced board certification, which shows mastery over death investigation. To earn this, one must have at least an associate's degree and must complete a minimum number of hours of death investigation experience.
Although it's not always the case, some states do require coroners to hold a medical license.
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