Nova Scotia’s chief medical examiner says the hiring pool for medical examiners is shallow

One of the beds in the autopsy room.
One of the beds in the autopsy room. Tom Vernon, Global News

Becoming a medical examiner is no easy feat and Dr. Matt Bowes, Nova Scotia’s chief medical examiner, knows that.

“I have a bachelor of science degree from U of T and then I went to medical school at Queen’s. So that’s eight years right out of the gate and you’re only about half-way there at that point. You have to do another five years of anatomical pathology training, which I did at Dalhousie. And then you have to do a forensic pathology fellowship, I did mine in Miami but there’s a lot of great programs out there. So that’s about 14 years of training after high school,” he said in a phone interview with 770 CHQR.

11 Canadian post-secondary schools offer postgraduate programs in pathology.

He noted that because it’s such a specialized field that requires a lengthy post-secondary career, the hiring pool is usually very shallow and recruiting for jobs can be very problematic.

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READ MORE: Calgary MLA calls for investigation of medical examiner’s office after fourth resignation

“There’s a shortage in the States actually, so drawing from the United States – although that had been kind of the mainstay for Canadian jurisdictions in the past – is kind of not the fertile ground that it used to be.”

Hiring a medical examiner can also be a slow process, he said.

READ MORE: 3 Calgary medical examiners set to resign in 2018

“Whoever you’re going to recruit is going to have to give some kind of notice to their employer before they move. I have to give six months notice to my employer – if I quit today I couldn’t leave for six months – so that could be potentially problematic.”

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