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Autopsy Technician - Clinical experience?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by jwindsor1, 05.28.10.

  1. jwindsor1

    jwindsor1

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    Job description:

    The Autopsy Technician is responsible in assisting the Lead Autopsy Technician with morgue services to include the performance of autopsies and associated responsibilities. Assists with admitting and releasing of dead bodies, Autopsies, Sign-outs, viewings, and processing unclaimed bodies for County burials.

    Positive or objective attitude toward the performance of necropsy, pathlology, and autopsy studies. Must be able to transfer bodies from a morgue tray to a funeral home transport stretcher. This may require frequent heavy lifting of larger bodies at any given time.

    Is this clinical experience?
  2. christina30

    christina30

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    It would certainly serve as a conversation starter at your interviews. Ha
  3. Parts Unknown

    Parts Unknown Fork tender

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    The fact that the patients are dead doesn't make it non-clinical. Being an autopsy tech (or diener) means you are working in a hospital setting, handling all manner of human biological material in a skilled fashion, and dealing in a professional manner with other hospital staff (including physician) and funeral services. Plus you get to become very accustomed to death, gore, and human tragedy. It will certainly set you apart, so if you're interested (and you enjoy working with your hands) then go for it.
  4. Chops369

    Chops369

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    Well that job description sounds delightful!
  5. morning

    morning butane in my veins

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    I know what I want to be when I grow up!
  6. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor

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    What do I always say?

    "If you are close enough to smell patients, it is a clinical experience."

    The fact that the patient is deceased does not mean it is not a clinical experience. In fact, the opportunities you'll have to learn anatomy are unrivaled out side of a medical school anatomy lab.

    The "viewing" means you'll have interactions with mourners, too, which is an interesting experience to have had before you are thrown into it during clerkships.
  7. willen101383

    willen101383

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    During my forensics masters I did 8 autopsies with my professor (who is the chief medical examiner of one of the counties here in philly)....and my interviewers absolutely loved it. It actually steered the course of my interviews for almost all of them.
  8. KCShaw

    KCShaw

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    Depends on who you talk to. Some physicians may turn their nose up at it (generally because it's not something THEY would have done), but I agree it's certainly something interesting/unique people are likely to remember you for. Unfortunately some clinicians mentally don't "count" anything as clinical if it doesn't involve a hospital or doctor treating the still living.

    Put it this way -- I wouldn't check a box that says "clinical experience?" and then argue (much) if someone gives you a hard time about it. Largely because you'd be arguing with someone you're interviewing with and would probably rather not get on their bad side, not because they're right. Realistically, if the job includes listening in to investigative reports and pathologists talking through the clinical history and what they're thinking as they work, then it's FAR better than those med-school applicants claiming clinical experience because they wheeled patients around a hospital and hung out with the janitors.

    Having said that, a lot of the job is fairly mundane manual to perhaps moderately-skilled labor.
  9. cfx

    cfx

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    What an awful job. The pay better be phenomenal.
  10. KCShaw

    KCShaw

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    Sadly, it's usually not. In my experience the larger and busier the office, the less well paid and less formally educated the technicians. They're generally pretty sharp at what they do, largely by virtue of being at a busy office and simply doing a lot of cases. The smaller offices less under the thumb of government budget pressures -generally- seem to find more educated techs and presumably pay a bit better.

    The up side is, usually, the government perks (retirement, health care, etc.). That and some very interesting senses of humor.
  11. sustentacular

    sustentacular

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    Last edited: 08.15.10
  12. 45408

    45408 aw buddy

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    I'd say it's clinical experience, but I find autopsies pretty depressing. I like surgery because you get to put them back together. I don't like the autopsies since it's basically gutting the patient. They're extremely valuable and necessary, but they're certainly not for everyone.
  13. Mace1370

    Mace1370

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    I actually did this job for a summer before applying to medical school. The pay was ****, but the experience is phenomenal. I wouldn't advise doing it for more than a month or two, however. That's generally all it takes to see the vast majority of what you are going to see. Some particular cool cases I got to see:

    1) Man who committed suicide by hanging
    2) Man who committed suicide by blowing the front of his face off with a shotgun (and then proceeded to bleed to death)
    3) Shotgun assault victims
    4) etc

    It is a great experience to talk about during interviews, as well as gives you several "great" party stories to gross your friends out. It also toughens you up for gross anatomy (which after this job will not bother you at all).

    Like I said, though, don't do it for a couple months. The smell is truly horrible and you will have to deal with some fairly disgusting things. All in all it is a unique enough experience to be worth it.
  14. Poliscidoc

    Poliscidoc

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    Sounds like a very lively job. And dear god what parties are you going to?

    Poliscidoc: So this guy comes in and his head is blown to **** because he used a shotgun to kill himself.

    After that statement I can see the party either going down hill or somebody pulling out a shotgun. Haha
  15. Mace1370

    Mace1370

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    I only go to the best parties :D.

    People tend to (in my experience) enjoy the stories that involve you getting grossed out or being forced into horrible situations, rather than the stories about suicides or dead babies (which are admittedly pretty big downers).

    As a "right of passage" at the morgue where I worked I had to work on a body that had decomposed in his apartment for two weeks (and it was summer). The person was originally white, but the body that I saw was completely black due to decomposition. He was also covered with maggots. And was HIV positive. When you decompose the fats in your body break down, which makes decomposed bodies incredibly greasy. We were issued degreaser spray, but it didn't help very much. Tools were constantly flying out of people's hands. The smell was so overwhelming I almost threw up as soon as I went in the room. It was bad, but after that experience I don't think I have been grossed out by anything.
  16. sustentacular

    sustentacular

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    Last edited: 08.15.10
  17. cfx

    cfx

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    I just gagged...then laughed.

    I guess it is a good source of party stories :thumbup:
  18. Hope0913

    Hope0913

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    :eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:

    why, oh why does an autopsy need to be preformed on that individual? I there was a story on the news a couple of days ago about a man found dead in his car in an isolated parking lot and was there for about 3 days before he was found, and remembered thinking "i feel sorry for the ME":scared:

    if i went through that experience i would no doubt have nightmares for 2 months straight
  19. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor

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    Obviously, you don't watch enough crime dramas. Being found dead in one's home or car tells you nothing about the cause of death which must be determined before the death certificate can be submitted. Furthermore, if the cause was homicide, then it becomes a police matter.
  20. KCShaw

    KCShaw

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    On that individual it wouldn't necessarily be required -- depends on the details. Identification may be in question. Adequately ruling out trauma (stab wounds? gunshot? fall with significant injury?) may be difficult without more detailed examination. Medications at the scene may have been out of order. Illicit drug paraphernalia may have been present. Reasonable suspicions of suicide may have existed.

    Depending on the jurisdiction and the details, anything from declining ME jurisdiction as an apparent natural, to a tox-only examination, to a typical complete autopsy could have happened.

    After you do a few severe decomps, it becomes easier. It's not pretty, but you focus on what you have to do and nowadays I generally don't much notice the aroma (usually the "worst" part) after the first few minutes. For people new to it I think it's hard to get past the "idea" of how bad it is.
  21. DubVille

    DubVille

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    I was an autopsy tech for 2 years at a crime lab, and counted it as clinical experience. It came up in all of my interviews and was a great conversation piece. Instead of asking me ethics questions or political opinions I was simply asked to describe the "grossest" thing I've seen.

    Severely burned bodies are the worst because they smell like grilled hamburgers on a charcoal grill and it made my stomach growl. :scared: (of course I didn't say this in interviews as I would felt sounding cannibalistic may not mesh with the schools vision)
    The nasty decomps were pretty bad but at least they didn't remind me of dinner.

    Good Luck OP
  22. organdonor

    organdonor

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    Anyone else getting the notion that autopsy technicians are pretty bada&^? Come on over here I'll buy you a beer and we can swap stories. Sorry I'll only have lowly Patient Care Technician tales. :bow:
  23. Hope0913

    Hope0913

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    lol that's what i was thinking!
  24. cfx

    cfx

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  25. sustentacular

    sustentacular

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    Last edited: 06.15.10
  26. Poliscidoc

    Poliscidoc

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    I just found the next job for the Jersey Shore show or for the the next real world. I'm sure seeing some of this stuff would cause major meltdows and drinking problems...
  27. KCShaw

    KCShaw

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    Having been involved with both, personally I'll take the decomp over watching someone slip away while you're actively trying to keep it from happening. Any day. But I guess that's why I'm in the job I'm in.

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