• Forensic pathology

Forensic pathology

Summary

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Forensic pathology is the sub-specialty of pathology that focuses on medico-legal investigations of sudden or unexpected death. Forensic pathologists have a critical and pivotal role in death investigation, examining the body of the deceased to define the cause of death, factors contributing to death, and to assist with the reconstruction of the circumstances in which the death occurred. As with all medical consultations, the diagnostic process involves the forensic pathologist integrating evidence from the deceased’s medical history, the supposed circumstances surrounding the death, the findings of post-mortem medical examination (autopsy) and the results of laboratory investigations undertaken as part of the autopsy. A post-mortem examination typically involves careful examination and documentation of the appearances of the body of the deceased and dissection of internal organs and structures. A sound knowledge of normal anatomical findings and variants as well as anatomical pathology (including normal histological appearances and variants) is essential, particularly as microscopic assessment of body tissues is often needed to enable a precise diagnosis.

Forensic pathologists work closely with other death investigators including coroners, police and forensic scientists; they may be required to attend scenes of death and are often required to testify in court.

specialty image
36–40 hours/week
average time worked
$153,795/year
average salary
5 years
min full time
GP sub-specialty
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Forensic pathology
The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA)
   
Forensic pathology is the sub-specialty of pathology that focuses on medico-legal investigations of sudden or unexpected death. Forensic pathologists have a critical and pivotal role in death investigation, examining the body of the deceased to define the cause of death, factors contributing to death, and to assist with the reconstruction of the circumstances in which the death occurred. As with all medical consultations, the diagnostic process involves the forensic pathologist integrating evidence from the deceased’s medical history, the supposed circumstances surrounding the death, the findings of post-mortem medical examination (autopsy) and the results of laboratory investigations undertaken as part of the autopsy. A post-mortem examination typically involves careful examination and documentation of the appearances of the body of the deceased and dissection of internal organs and structures. A sound knowledge of normal anatomical findings and variants as well as anatomical pathology (including normal histological appearances and variants) is essential, particularly as microscopic assessment of body tissues is often needed to enable a precise diagnosis.

Forensic pathologists work closely with other death investigators including coroners, police and forensic scientists; they may be required to attend scenes of death and are often required to testify in court.
https://www.rcpa.edu.au/getattachment/b22b0906-bdcd-49e1-b5b1-e3e54fad580c/Forensic-Pathology-Trainee-Handbook.aspx
$1,144 per training year plus $110 registration
36–40
33/67
2
5
Oversubscribed
5
No
N/A
Completion of a primary medical degree and one postgraduate year. Prior to commencing training, prospective trainees must secure a position at a laboratory accredited by RCPA.
It is suggested that trainees consider an extended period of 2 years' clinical experience after graduation from medical school (for example, accident and emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, psychiatry, paediatrics or adult medicine/surgery/general practice) before commencing forensic pathology training.
Applications are made online via the college: https://www.rcpa.edu.au/Pathology-Careers/Becoming-A-Pathologist/Detailed-Information-About-Becoming-a-Pathologist/Initial-Registration/
50
$153,795
Basic pathological sciences examination: $670 ($140 if a current medical student)
Forensic pathology part I examination: $2,340
Forensic pathology part II examination: $2,340
$5,350
To gain Fellowship as a specialist forensic pathologist requires five years of accredited training in the discipline, which includes a full range of autopsy practice, histopathology and exposure to the forensic sciences. No more than four years in the one institution will be allowed.

There are three pathways to forensic pathology practice:
1. Anatomical pathology I followed by forensic pathology II (API-FP II), which leads to Fellowship in Forensic Pathology
2. Forensic pathology I followed by forensic pathology II (FPI-FPII), which leads to Fellowship in Forensic Pathology
3. Fellowship in anatomical pathology or general pathology followed by post-fellowship training, which leads to a Diploma in Forensic Pathology.

Trainees should make this selection carefully, in the full knowledge that the FPI-FPII stream places a significant limitation on later scope of practice (i.e. limitation to forensic pathology) and that lengthy retraining will be required if a career change is considered later. Trainees who are uncertain should seek advice from their supervisor, other Fellows or the state councillor.
Annual registration for all trainees closes in February. Applications for examinations also close in February. Examinations are generally held in late May.
2

NB: Salary figures, working hours, undersubscribed and oversubscribed can vary greatly depending on various factors including but not limited to geographic location, private or public practice. MedVersus provides an Australia wide overview. For information specific to your needs we encourage you to discuss further with the relevant colleges/associations. For feedback/information to keep the site up to date please contact us by email: media@gptq.qld.edu.au

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