Department of Pathology Residency Program

Autopsy / Forensics Rotation

Length: Two 3-month rotations

OMI website:

As a junior and senior resident, you will spend a total of six months at the Office of the Medical Investigator. The first rotation will concentrate on performing hospital-based autopsies, which include those from University Hospital, the VA, and community hospitals from around the state. These cases allow for a focus on the pathophysiology of disease processes and gross and histologic autopsy pathology. The patient population at these various medical centers provides a diverse spectrum of disease processes, including infectious diseases, neoplasms, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, intra-uterine fetal demises, natural infant deaths, and postoperative and procedural-related deaths. These are consented autopsies, and the residents are expected to provide accurate and timely documentation and communications with the family members and clinicians involved in the case.

The second autopsy rotation will introduce a spectrum of forensic cases. These vary somewhat depending on the resident’s interests and ability but may include unexpected natural deaths, drug and alcohol-related deaths, suicidal hangings, suicidal gunshot wounds, and motor vehicle accidents. In these cases, the residents are expected to gather death scene information from OMI investigators as a component of the autopsy report and are the contact person for families, law enforcement, and medical providers who may seek information regarding the death.

Most residents will complete between 50-70 autopsies prior to graduation. We have enough volume for residents to complete their own autopsies with little sharing of cases. Some highlights of this rotation include a busy teaching service with a wide diversity of cases; numerous forensic conferences including neuropathology, cardiovascular pathology, consensus conference; and microscopic unknowns; an electronic report and charting system with digital photography and digital radiography. The OMI also supports four fellows in Forensic Pathology each year, which increases the resident’s exposure to teaching opportunities, such as specialists in Forensic Odontology, and Radiology, and allows many residents to stay in NM for fellowship training. The high daily case volume provides ample opportunities for residents and fellows to select appropriate cases and to gain exposure to a wide variety of topics in autopsy and forensic medicine.

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