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Coroner

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Summary

Authorize autopsies to establish a victim's identity and cause of death.

What does a Coroner do?

When trying to imagine the job of a Coroner, just think of the latest CSI episode or crime drama movie. The Coroner is the person called in by Police Officers after a body is discovered. They determine the victim’s identity and the cause of death, and they sign the death certificate. They’re also tasked with the difficult job of contacting the deceased person’s family and returning all personal items.

The title of Coroner can be a confusing one, mainly because it occasionally gets used interchangeably with Medical Investigator. The biggest differences between the two jobs are the amount of education required and the way you get hired. Medical Investigators are Physicians, and often Forensic Pathologists, specially trained to handle dead bodies. They’re the ones who can perform autopsies and get into their positions by appointment only.

As a Coroner you can be a Physician, or you can just as easily be a Chef or an English Professor. The point is you don’t need any specific training for this role; the one thing you do need, though, is to be elected. Once selected for this role you’ll then go through a basic training about how to fill out the proper forms and handle grieving relatives.

The reason for the lack of previous experience for this role is that much of this job is handling paperwork. You keep and file records and make sure all deaths are handled correctly, especially if that means getting the police involved for suspicious deaths. If you aren’t able to determine how a person died on your own, you’re in charge of calling in a trained Medical Investigator in order to carry out an autopsy or perform further tests.

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