Thank you for your interest in learning more about the field of forensic science. We have linked some information below where you may find answers to your questions—at least enough to get you started thinking about forensics. Good luck in your future pursuits.
We have a strong educational mission to train future medical doctors and forensic pathologists. Our office has an accredited fellowship program in forensic pathology, and collaborates with the University of Minnesota and Hennepin County Medical Center to provide rotational opportunities for medical students and residents.
We also partner with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to provide specialized training to law enforcement officers.
Job classifications for medical examiner jobs in Hennepin County
Our staff is a team of professionals with varied skills and educational backgrounds. Some of the careers that are utilized in our office include those listed below, where you can learn more about these careers and what knowledge, skills and abilities we look for when hiring new team members.
Interview with Hennepin County medical examiner, Andrew Baker
What educational qualifications do you need to become a medical examiner?
Being a medical examiner in the United States requires a college degree, a medical degree (MD or DO), residency training in anatomical or anatomical and clinical pathology (generally 3-4 years), and a year-long fellowship in forensic pathology. Both the pathology residency and the forensic pathology fellowship are followed by board certification examinations.
How would you describe what your job entails?
A typical day in the life of a medical examiner usually starts with reading new cases and deciding which cases need autopsies or other further investigation. Depending on the day of the week, a medical examiner might next perform one or more autopsies. Later in the day, after autopsies are completed, you would find the medical examiner returning phone calls to families, editing autopsy reports, signing death certificates, teaching, or meeting with attorneys in preparation for an upcoming trial.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of being a medical examiner is using medical skills to solve mysteries. Many of the deaths we investigate are not fully explained until a complete autopsy and extensive laboratory work are done. Our skills provide answers to families, the public, and the courts that they would otherwise not have.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
Medical examiners on TV are often portrayed as an arm of law enforcement or the criminal justice system. In reality, we are completely independent of those. Medical examiners are doctors whose work happens to sometimes overlap with the law enforcement or the criminal justice systems, and we use our medical skills to inform them.
What is the most memorable experience you’ve had as a medical examiner?
I was one of the core team of forensic pathologists that identified and autopsied all the people killed in the September 11, 2001, attack on American Airlines Flight 77 and the Pentagon in Washington DC.
What are you the most proud of?
In 2017, I worked pro bono on a case for the Innocence Project. My work and my testimony helped secure the exoneration of a woman who spent 15 years in prison for a murder she could not possibly have committed.
If I wanted to be a medical examiner, what courses should I take to prepare?
The most important thing a young person can do is make sure your college advisor knows, on day one, that you are planning to apply to medical school. Your premedical advisor will make sure you take all the courses required for medical school admission. Beyond those courses, there is nothing specific you need to do to prepare for a future as a medical examiner. My personal advice would be to take as many courses outside the sciences as you can—the arts, humanities, literature, history, social sciences—that will make you a well-rounded person and physician. Honing your writing and public speaking skills will serve you well as a medical examiner.