CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a forensic pathologist.
Is becoming a forensic pathologist right for me?
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Frequently Asked Questions
How to become a Forensic Pathologist
Aspiring forensic pathologists must first complete a bachelor's degree before entering medical school. There is no required major, but a strong background in the natural sciences is required by most medical schools.
Medical school typically takes four years to complete. During the first two years, medical students will spend their time in lectures and labs studying topics like anatomy, organ systems and physiology. In years three and four, individuals participate in clinical rotations, with each rotation covering a different field of medicine (such as pediatrics, family medicine, neurology, surgery and internal medicine).
Physicians must obtain licensing, and while each state may have slightly different procedures, most require licensing applicants to pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination.
The majority of pathology residency programs teach students about clinical pathology and anatomic pathology. These programs typically last four years and include formal lectures as well as hands-on training. Topics include autopsies, gastrointestinal pathology, surgical pathology, hematology, cytogenetics and molecular diagnostics.
Becoming board certified shows a professional level of knowledge within the specialty. The American Board of Pathology provides general certification in clinical pathology, anatomic pathology, or both. After individuals become certified in general pathology, they may pursue subspecialty certification in forensic pathology.