caribstud

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I'm a civilian practicing forensic pathologist who's interested in practicing my specialty in the armed forces. How do I find out if there is a need? I don't want to join only to get stuck signing out surgical pathology or running a blood bank. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

HighPriest

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If you're not ok doing surgical path or running a blood bank, don't join the military. Even if there's a need for a forensic pathologist, there's no guarantee you'll be allowed to do it. Frankly, the longer you're in, the less likely it is you'll be allowed to do it because at some point they'll move you somewhere where they don't need it.
 

Kingfisher

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As a pathologist in the Navy, you are pretty much guaranteed an administrative job with the lab. You might get lucky for a couple of years but the longer you are in.....
 

Ziehl-Neelsen

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I'm a civilian practicing forensic pathologist who's interested in practicing my specialty in the armed forces. How do I find out if there is a need? I don't want to join only to get stuck signing out surgical pathology or running a blood bank. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Why are you trying to join the military to practice FP? There are consistently dozens of FP jobs around the country listed on the NAME website. https://netforum.avectra.com/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=NAME&WebCode=Jobs

It's not likely there is a need for any of the services to take a civilian FP through FAP or direct accession (though you can always inquire). There are obviously a huge number of posts that have to be done during wartime for all SMs that are KIA, but in the current environment, most military FPs I know are sitting on their hands. A few have even remarked that current autopsy numbers aren't even enough to meet the requirements to be hired by ME offices when transitioning out of the military.

Are you CP board certified or are you AP/FP only? The military has no interest in pathologists who aren't CP certified (in fact our residents are required to complete AP/CP residencies) because (as you allude to) they can't run a clinical lab or a blood bank somewhere. In fact I would argue that CP board certification and experience is more important to the military than AP board certification and experience.

See the following post for the situations available to military FPs. http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/armed-forces-medical-examiner-system-is-hpsp-a-valid-pathway.1149179/#post-16690415
 

DrMetal

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I know are sitting on their hands. A few have even remarked that current autopsy numbers aren't even enough to meet the requirements to be hired by ME offices when transitioning out of the military.
How feasible is it to moonlight at a civilian institution as a pathologist while you're active duty?
 

Mace1370

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How feasible is it to moonlight at a civilian institution as a pathologist while you're active duty?
I can't speak to moonlighting as a FP. I would imagine that would be pretty tricky, since I can't imagine a command would happy with you having to go to court for a case you did over a weekend. However, I know multiple attending pathologists who moonlight signing out surg path, so it seems pretty doable.
 

Ziehl-Neelsen

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How feasible is it to moonlight at a civilian institution as a pathologist while you're active duty?
The specifics of FP practice make it far less feasible (though not impossible) to moonlight as an FP than to moonlight as a general pathologist.

A. ME offices are (in most cases) state or local governmental entities so any moonlighting contract will have to go through governmental approval channels.

B. ME offices generally start the day around 0600 with cutting starting at 0700 and done by 1200. The rest of the day for the FPs is admin, report dictating, slide work (if necessary), scene investigations (if necessary), odds and ends (depositions, trial prep with prosecutors, meeting with families to explain how 6-MAM was found in their daughter's blood even though she was an angel and would never touch drugs, etc.), and tying up loose ends. Thus there's no way to pop over to the ME office after the duty day to do a little moonlighting. Weekend moonlighting would be feasible for the FPs stationed at Dover as long as they're not on call, but it's a different story for the FPs stationed away from Dover. Those military FPs are generally expected to be on call (including weekends) whenever not on leave to cover regional forensic autopsies so that Dover doesn't have to fly a team out to NAS Whidbey Island for a forensic autopsy on a Saturday morning when that autopsy could be done by the military FP stationed at Fort Lewis. Kind of tough to cover a weekend for a local ME office when you could be getting a call from OAFME expecting you to do a forensic autopsy on the Olympic Pennisula on Saturday morning.

C. The services between them generally try to have an FP stationed in the pacific rim and Europe to serve as a regional FP so that a team from Dover doesn't have to fly out every time a LCpl decides to play chicken with a lamppost while doing 100+ on his new Hayabusa. Not many opportunities for the Navy FP stationed at Oki or the Army FP stationed at Landstuhl to moonlight.

D. As mentioned above. You never know as an FP which case is going to go to trial. ME offices are loath hire a military FP to cover for the weekend when there's the possibility that if the case goes to trial the FP who signed out the autopsy wouldn't be able to take the stand because he couldn't take leave or was deployed.

The one military FP I knew who did moonlight was a go-getter who was not staying in the military past his commitment and was very aware of how the low numbers of forensic autopsies for military FPs were perceived on the outside. He found a small (3 man) ME office that was desperate for coverage about 500 miles from where we were stationed and would use leave to take a 4 day once a month to cover for that office. He flew in Thursday evening and cut Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with the understanding that one of the FPs would be in town and able to be called in for any homicides. Subsequently the office would FedEx tox results and other required studies to him so he could write his final report which he FedEx'd back to the ME office. If a case ever went to trial, he was on the hook to testify. The whole process was obviously a huge pain for him, but it allowed him to keep his numbers up and he had no problems getting an FP job when he ETS'd.
 
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Ziehl-Neelsen

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Yah. No prob.

Forensic pathology is a unique field. Virtually nobody falls in love with FP during residency. FPs know that they want to enter the field before residency--most know before even going to medical school. Conversely, pathology is full of pathologists who were dead set on FP before residency and found out on their first FP rotation that they hated it.

Good luck in the match.
 
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caribstud

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I'm AP FP and Pedi Path boarded. I'm looking into reserves and doing my 2 weeks a year at the medical examiners office. From what I've been told it's possible and there is a need. I have a good private practice job, just looking to serve and have a change of pace. From what everyone is saying I'm not eligible without cp but that's not what I've been told thus far.
 

Ziehl-Neelsen

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I'm AP FP and Pedi Path boarded. I'm looking into reserves and doing my 2 weeks a year at the medical examiners office. From what I've been told it's possible and there is a need. I have a good private practice job, just looking to serve and have a change of pace. From what everyone is saying I'm not eligible without cp but that's not what I've been told thus far.
Reserves are a horse of a different color. If you are just filling in at OAFME during your 2 weeks there probably isn't a need for CP boards and I could see them relaxing that restriction. You need to make sure that it's in stone that when you are activated, however, that it will only be to serve with OAFME in Dover.

The reservists who have rotated with me have all been AP/CP (with varying abilities to help out in certain areas based on what they commonly do in their civilian practices) but every once in a while we'll get somebody who really only confines himself to a subspecialty in a larger civilian group practice like hemepath or transfusion medicine, and its a big pain that they can't safely help with the general workload (even if it is nice to have a subspecialist to run things by for those 2 weeks). If you get sent to an MTF (not Dover) for your 2 weeks, the department will absolutely expect that you sign out general surgical pathology as that is the majority of the day to day workload in most departments, and pathologists in small departments schedule leave for when the reservist will be in the department (because we know there will be coverage). Be prepared that if big Army screws up and sends you to Fort Campbell for 2 weeks instead of Dover that the pathologists are going to be a bit miffed that you can't cover call or help with the general surgical pathology workload.. Same goes if you are ever activated for a long period of time. Reservist pathologists are generally activated to cover a department at a military MTF that is short-staffed due to deployments and the like. If you go to Dover everything will be hunky dory, but if they send you to an MTF you'll be responsible for general anatomic pathology duties (as that's what you'll be credentialed for).
 
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Homunculus

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true story. I was bitten by the forensic path bug after doing a rotation with the state medical examiner's office ("none of this is the CSI bull**** on TV like juries expect it to be"-- direct quote) as a medical student. went to scenes, assisted with autopsies, "viewers", tracked bullet and fragment paths, trying to work out time of death/mechanism of death of decomps, looked at histology and tox resports, and even went to a federal murder trial. I was enamored. i even did an ADT at WR in path. fortunately one of the residents clued me in to the above, and as much as i loved FP i couldn't handle CP/AP and after a period of mourning went back to the "clinical world" where i am still pretty happy with my decision but do occasionally get a case of the "what ifs."

--your friendly neighborhood FP = biology vs physics caveman
 

Ziehl-Neelsen

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true story. I was bitten by the forensic path bug after doing a rotation with the state medical examiner's office ("none of this is the CSI bull**** on TV like juries expect it to be"-- direct quote) as a medical student. went to scenes, assisted with autopsies, "viewers", tracked bullet and fragment paths, trying to work out time of death/mechanism of death of decomps, looked at histology and tox resports, and even went to a federal murder trial. I was enamored. i even did an ADT at WR in path. fortunately one of the residents clued me in to the above, and as much as i loved FP i couldn't handle CP/AP and after a period of mourning went back to the "clinical world" where i am still pretty happy with my decision but do occasionally get a case of the "what ifs."

--your friendly neighborhood FP = biology vs physics caveman
Funny that a pediatrician would have considered Forensic Pathology his first love.

I wasn't particularly drawn to FP, but I didn't hate it. I had no problem dealing with man's inhumanity to man. Man's inhumanity to children on the other hand...

Nothing sadder than hearing about somebody pulling a murder-suicide with his four kids on the nightly news, and knowing that you'll be cutting on the kiddos the next day.
 

HighPriest

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I dug the FP rotation I did in med school until we had a corpse that had been through a house fire. I can still smell that overcooked barbecue smell. Smells seem to have directed my education fairly significantly. The same thing happened after I smelled c. diff. for the first time, now I avoid that as well. I was able to ignore throat cancer smell and trach slime, so here I am.