Forensic Pathology Training | Print |

(A Description of the FCMEO/Emory Program is Included on This Page)


Forensic Pathology is a subspecialty that requires specific training after completion of basic pathology training. Trainees who enroll in such training are physicians who usually spend a year in what is often called a "Forensic Pathology Fellowship." The Fulton County Medical Examiner Center (FCMEC) has an accredited training program in forensic pathology in conjunction with Emory University School of Medicine's Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Doctors who successfully complete the training may then become qualified to sit for the Forensic Pathology Board Certification Examination offered by the American Board of Pathology. Once the pathologist passes the examination, he/she is referred to as a Board Certified Forensic Pathologist. For further information on our Forensic Pathology Fellowship Program, contact Mary Lou Mojonnier, Emory Pathology Residency Coordinator, at 404-727-4283 or send her an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Her address is Department of Pathology Room H189, Emory University Hospital, 1364 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322.

The people below have acquired training in forensic pathology (or are currently training) at the FCMEC. Current location of practice is also indicated. Note that a number of the trainees have remained in Georgia to carry out their professional practice of Forensic Pathology. Most work as Medical Examiners, and many have gone on to become board certified in Forensic Pathology.

James Metcalfe, MD, Signal Mountain, TN (1979-80)
Randy Hanzlick, MD, Atlanta, Georgia (1982-1983)
Larisa Reifman, MD (1983-84)
Wayne Ross, MD, Bethlehem, PA (1985)
Beyla Galanter, MD (1985)
Donna Franco Jove, MD
Gerald Gowitt, MD, Atlanta, GA (1986)
Janet Pillow, MD, Leesburg, FL (1987)
Keith Norton, MD, Columbus, OH (1987)
David Rydzewski, MD, Carrolton, GA (1988)
Thomas Young, MD, Kansas City, MO (1988)
Steven Dunton, MD, Atlanta, GA (1989)
Mark Koponen, MD, Atlanta, GA (1990)
Anthony Clark, MD, Moultrie, GA (1991-92)
Brenda Reames, MD, Bossier City, LA (1991-92), (Deceased 1999)
Cliff Nelson, MD, Portland, OR (1993-94)
Tom Parsons,MD, Washington, DC (1994-95)
Carol Terry, MD, Atlanta, GA (1995-96)
Geoffrey Smith, MD, Atlanta, GA (1995-96)
Delbert Van Deusen, MD, Houston, TX (1996-97)
Cameron Snider, MD, LaFayette, LA (1997-98)
Mario Mosunjac, MD, Atlanta, GA (1998-99)
Keith Lehman, MD, Atlanta, GA (1998-99)
Joyce deJong, DO, Grand Rapids, MI (1998-99)
Kris Podjaski, MD, Atlanta, (GA) (1999-2000)
John Younes, MD, Winnipeg, Canada (1999-2000)
Kay Fellows (2000-2001), Palatka, Florida
Allan Bennett (2000-2001), Charleston, South Carolina
Christie Elliott (2001-2001), Reno, Nevada
Michele Stauffenberg (2001-2002), Remained on staff at FCME
Steve Sgan (2002-2003), Tallahassee, FL
Karen Sullivan (2002-2003), Atlanta, GA
Eric Eason (started July 2003), GBI-Decatur
Susan Lee Anne Martin, MD (Started August 2004), Birmingham, AL
Jason K. Graham, MD (2005-2006), New York, NY
Stacey L. Smith, MD, (2006-2007), Atlanta, GA
Steven P. Atkinson, MD (2007-2008), Atlanta, GA
Stacey Tate, MD (2008-2009), Atlanta, GA
Kelly Rose, MD (2009-2010), Newberry, SC
Rhome Hughes, MD (2010-2011), San Antonio, TX
Anindita Issa, MD (2010-2011), Atlanta, GA
Jennifer Gardetto, MD (2011-2012)
Emily Gorman, MD (2012-2013)
Christy Cunningham, DO (July 2015 thru June 2016)
Colin Hebert, MD (July 2015 thrr June 2016)
Ryan McCormick (July 2016 thru June 2017)
Rachel Geller (July 2017 thru June 2018)

 



FORENSIC PATHOLOGY RESIDENCY PROGRAM

Emory School of Medicine and Fulton County Medical Examiner

THE GEOGRAPHICAL JURISDICTION:

The Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office serves the whole of Fulton County which has a population of approximately 816,000 persons. Approximately 95% of the incorporated City of Atlanta is located within Fulton County, and the County also contains North and South Precincts which are more suburban with some rural areas. The surrounding multi-county, metropolitan statistical area has a population of several million people. Ten separate police agencies are located in the various cities and municipalities within Fulton County. A broad spectrum of socioeconomic living and working conditions exist in the area, providing a heterogeneous population quite appropriate for the study of death and its many presentations.

THE DEATH INVESTIGATION SYSTEM:

The elected Office of Coroner has been abolished since the 1960s in Fulton County. The County government (Commission) appoints the Chief Medical Examiner for a renewable six-year term which promotes continuity and long term experience in death investigation.

The Georgia Death Investigation Act outlines the duties and responsibilities of the Medical Examiner. The Office investigates deaths which are thought to be the result of violence, suicide, or casualty (accidents). In addition, sudden deaths which occur while in apparent good health, deaths which occur within 24 hours of admission to a hospital in which the patient was never conscious, and deaths of inmates of state,county, or city institutions located in Fulton County are investigated. In essence, any death which is sudden and unexplained with reasonable certainty, or due to external causes (injury or poisoning) must be reported to the Medical Examiner.

It is the sole responsibility of the Medical Examiner to determine the degree of investigation in a given case; it is also the Medical Examiner's sole responsibility to determine the cause, manner, and circumstances of death. The Medical Examiner must take all available information into consideration, arrive at his/her own opinion, and be able to individually support and defend that opinion as well.

The Medical Examiner is assisted by a group of in-house Investigators. These Investigators are responsible for responding to and screening incoming reports of death. The Investigators prepare a written report containing investigative information and details of relevant medical history. The Medical Examiner uses such preliminary reports to make decisions about further disposition of each case. Investigators make initial decisions concerning the need for scene investigation and conduct a scene investigation, if appropriate. The Medical Examiners attend scene investigations by choice or when his or her presence is requested, desired, or necessary.

Autopsies are performed in the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Center. Bodies are transported from death scenes to the morgue by Medical Examiner or contracted transport vehicles. Autopsies are generally conducted seven days a week between the hours of 8 am and 4:30 pm unless specific circumstances require otherwise. Most bodies are released within 24 hours of the original death report. An in-house clerical and technical assistance staff provide invaluable assistance in the disposition of cases, including autopsy technicians who are experienced and capable at providing organ removal, dissection assistance, and preparation of the body for transport to funeral homes. In-house photographers and a photo lab facilitate the collection of documentary photographic evidence.

A full time Chief Medical Examiner and three full time Associate or Deputy Medical Examiners are charged with the responsibility of conducting medicolegal death investigations and determining the cause, manner, and circumstances of death. The Medical Examiners operate on a flexible, rotating call schedule.

THE FULTON COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER'S BUILDING:

The Fulton County Medical Examiner`s Center is financially maintained by the Fulton County Government. The operations of the Office are carried out in a 33,000 square foot complex consisting of three buildings-- one administrative, one for routine autopsies, and the third for decomposed remains. The Center opened in April 1999, and is one of the most modern and attractive in the Country. A medicolegal investigator staff is also maintained and consists of 12 full time investigators who provide around-the-clock in-house coverage. The professional, clerical, technical, administrative, and custodial staff consists of approximately 40 employees, all of whom work in the physical facility itself.

PERSONNEL:

Chief Medical Examiner........................... 1

Associate/Deputy Medical Examiners....... 4

Deputy Director....................................... 1  

Operations Manager................................ 1

Administrative Coordinator...................... 1

Investigators........................................... 12

Histologist................................................ 1

Autopsy Technicians/Photographers......... 7

Adm/Clerical........................................... 6

Morgue Attendants.................................. 2

Custodial................................................. 2

TOTAL SQUARE FOOTAGE............................. 33,000

OTHER FEATURES:

a) Multiple in-house conference rooms with AV systems

b) 8 station autopsy room.

c) In-house x-ray machines

d) In-house histology lab and histologist

e) In-house photocopier, FAX, and computers

f) In-house photographer and photo lab.

g) Free, adequate on site parking.

 

CASE LOAD DESCRIPTION:

Each year, more than 2000 deaths are reported to the Office. On average, 1300 to 1500 deaths are investigated per year and include approximately 200 homicides, 100 suicides, 200 non-traffic related accidents, and 150 traffic related deaths. The remainder consist of natural deaths. Approximately 900 autopsies, 400 external examinations (external exam and lab work only), and approximately 900 scene investigations are performed annually. Over 1000 cases per year are investigated toxicologically.

PROCESSING OF EVIDENCE:

The Georgia State Crime Laboratory, built in 1984, located about 15 minutes from the FCME office, is one of the finest of its kind in the country and provides services in ballistics, serology, latent prints, questioned documents, drug identification, toxicology, and trace evidence/criminalistics. Rotations through these divisions are available to the Forensic Pathology Fellow. Evidence collected by the Medical Examiner at crime scenes or during autopsy is transmitted to the Crime Lab for processing by experts in the various forensic science disciplines. The clinical laboratory at nearby Grady Memorial Hospital also performs clinical lab tests and microbiology as needed.

COMPUTERIZATION AND TEACHING MATERIALS:

The Office has a computerized data storage system which provides for easy access to case data. Hundreds of relevant scientific articles from the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, the Journal of Forensic Sciences, and other relevant Journals are present on the premises, at nearby Grady Hospital, at the Grady Hospital Library, and at the Emory Medical and Law Libraries.

Kodachrome slides of specific cases and various check samples are available in-house for teaching/learning. Videotapes are available at the Videotape Library of the Emory School of Medicine and are easily obtainable through the Medical Library at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Standard textbooks of Forensic Pathology and forensic science are available on site in the FCME Library, and an excellent reference library for other medical disciplines is located several blocks away at the Grady Hospital Medical Library, a branch of the Emory Medical Library.

The Office participates in ongoing research projects and surveillance with agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also located in Atlanta.

THE FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM:

The training program is tailored to the candidate. Emphasis is placed on performing autopsies in different types of medicolegal cases, not on high numbers of cases. Trainees are expected to perform about 250 complete autopsies per year. The trainee is expected to participate in at least 75 scene investigations, consult with attorneys and police agencies, interact with the media, and proffer testimony in the courtroom and other settings such as depositions if the opportunity arises. After initial orientation and guidance the trainee is responsible for completion of cases from beginning to end, ultimately functioning as an "independent" Medical Examiner supervised by the staff.

Being in a subspecialty of Pathology, the trainee is expected to be self motivated. Learning occurs through a case by case method in which the trainee is expected to initiate discussions, questions, and literature reviews of pertinent topics. Formal and informal conferences will be held on the premises or nearby Grady Hospital, and the trainee will be expected to participate in conferences, including those regularly scheduled at Grady Hospital's Pathology Department, such as gross autopsy conference.

 

The Residency Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The program is geared toward providing experience and opportunity to establish competence in Forensic Pathology; it is also geared toward preparation for the Forensic Pathology Board Examination. Residents in this training program have an excellent record in passing the FP board examination.

The Program is available as a 1-year program to those who meet the pre-requisite requirements outlined on page 9 of this document. 2 positions are usually available. The Office and Program are affiliated with Emory University's Department of Pathology; Emory`s general pathology residents are required to rotate through the office for a one month introduction to Forensic Pathology. The Forensic Resident will have some teaching responsibility with the general pathology residents rotating in the office.

Atlanta offers a fine climate and environment in which to live and work; it is a clean, culture conscious city, with mountains, lakes, and Southern coastal beaches within easy driving distances of the city.

OBJECTIVES:

The main objective of this training program is to provide the trainee with a broad exposure to the practice of Forensic Pathology from which he may gain solid, wide, wholesome knowledge, with the necessary skills and attitudes for this discipline. Evaluation of the trainee with the purpose of achieving these objectives will be made continually. The resident will be involved in assessing jurisdiction on reported cases after an initial seminar-type orientation. This program covers the history of the Medical Examiner's system, the systems in various jurisdictions in Georgia and other areas, statistical data of death in our jurisdiction, types of cases reported, requirements for a Medical Examiner case under the Georgia statutes, scene investigation, purposes of the medical-legal autopsy with special comparison to the hospital autopsy, and the proper completion of the death certificate. The resident will be assigned to, and supervised by a member of the professional staff with whom he/she will work closely.

Residents will work with each of the on-duty professional staff but will work most closely with the program co-director. The resident will accompany the pathologist and or medical investigator to death scenes, violent or natural. He/she will observe, assist and conduct death scene investigation under supervision. He/she will participate in estimating the time of death, gathering trace evidence on the death scene, photography, and collection of data from the scene together with historical and circumstantial data relevant to the manner and circumstances of death.

The resident is expected during a year to be involved in approximately 75 scene investigations. He/she will assist and perform external examinations and autopsies under supervision with gradual independence. Emphasis on systematic, detailed problem solving autopsies will be required. He or she will collect and retain body fluids, tissues and other materials including trace evidence and missiles for further toxicologic, serologic, histologic, bacteriologic, ballistics and other investigations. The trainee will be required to record and maintain adequate and legally acceptable chain of evidence procedures in handling materials. The resident will interpret and discuss the autopsy and other findings with the supervising pathologist and will use radiographs and photography appropriately. Emphasis on mechanisms and patterns of injuries will be required. He/she will collect data for identification with special reference to documenting, interpreting and comparing dental records and using anthropological, serologic, and other methods for identification. The trainee will examine and interpret histologic preparations including tissue histology, smears and other mounts. He/she will be required to write and submit autopsy protocols that are not only detailed and oriented towards giving answers to anticipated questions but are also helpful in court.

The Resident will be expected to perform, under supervision, approximately 250 autopsies during a year, of which roughly 60% will be violent deaths including accidents, homicides and suicides. He/she will participate in the decision making of the cause and manner of death as well as the completion of death certificates. The Resident is to attend and prepare for conferences with the staff pathologists, and will participate in teaching of rotating pathology residents, the medical investigators, and other groups as needed. Periodic in-house conferences include case review conference which allows the resident to correlate scene investigation, autopsy findings and final disposition of cases reported to the office. The resident is encouraged to attend several additional conferences that are regularly held in the department of pathology at Grady Memorial Hospital.

The resident will participate in the preparation of cases for court and will attend court proceedings where a pathologist is an expert witness. The resident will be expected to testify in court regarding the cases in which he or she participated, with appropriate guidance or supervision. These include criminal, civil, workmen's compensation and other cases. The resident will be encouraged to participate in ongoing research by the staff and to conduct his or her own investigative work where feasible within the office and within the Emory University Department of Pathology both at Grady Memorial Hospital and Emory University Hospital. The resident will be encouraged to answer death related inquiries from families, treating physicians, law enforcement agencies, insurance agencies, district attorney's office, attorneys, news media, and other interested parties, to develop necessary communication skills and circumspection.

The resident will rotate through the various forensic science sections at the GBI crime lab and will have instruction in physical anthropology and forensic odontology. Rotations with the district attorney, public defender, and homicide squad are also available. Experts are also available for odontological, entomological, legal, engineering and other needs.

SCIENTIFIC MEETINGS:

The resident will be encouraged to attend an out of state medico-legal center and/or national meeting or forensic pathology workshop, i.e., the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the annual meeting of the National Association of Medical Examiners, meetings of the American Society of Clinical Pathology, or Forensic Pathology specialty courses offered in various centers such as the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. Monies to pay for such trips are the responsibility of the Forensic resident, but some funds are usually provided by the Emory Pathology Department to attend one meeting.

 

EVALUATION:

The resident will be evaluated quarterly by members of the professional staff. Results of the evaluation will be shared with the resident along with suggestions and/or advice. The resident will also have the opportunity to make comments or suggestions about the program and faculty, and must complete a program evaluation survey at the end of the training year.

VACATION:

The Fellow will be allowed three weeks vacation. The time may be taken a day at a time or in blocks of days or weeks. Additional time free of autopsy duty is provided for Board preparation.

STRUCTURAL ASPECTS OF THE PROGRAM:

The program is governed by the residency training program committee of Emory University Department of Pathology that consists of members of the resident staff and faculty representatives from major sections of the department. The committee is responsible for administrative and educational aspects of pathology residency programs in general, in conjunction with the Forensic Pathology Residency Director in regard to this training program.

 

SALARY:

One position is funded by Emory and the fellow is an Emory employee. The other is funded by Fulton County and the fellow is a Fulton County Employee. The annual salary is usually at the PGY-5 level of the Emory University School of Medicine. Presently, the salary approximates 48,000 dollars annually. Checks are paid monthly at Emory and biweekly at Fulton County. Benefits including insurance are available from both employers. Consultation and coverage opportunities sometimes allow for additional income.

 

PROFESSIONAL STAFF:

Randy L. Hanzlick, MD, Chief Medical Examiner, Program Director

Michele T. Stauffenberg, MD, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, Program Co-Director and Associate Medical Examiner

Geoffrey P. Smith, MD, Associate Medical Examiner

Michael Heninger, MD Associate Medical Examiner

Karen Sullivan, MD, Associate Medical Examiner

 

PREREQUISITES

Pre-requisites for consideration:

1) Board certified in AP or AP/CP

or

2) Have completed necessary AP training to be considered qualified for Board Examination in AP

or

3) Have completed two full years of approved training in AP and at least one year of additional approved training in

AP, clinical medicine, or a specialty area of pathology.

 

NOTE: Under exceptional circumstances, a candidate may be considered for forensic residency after completion of two years of approved AP training with the understanding that additional, subsequent training in FP, a credentialing year, or other specialty area would be required for board qualification.