Real life drama
Position: Medicolegal Death Investigator for Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner
Job description: Collecting pertinent and vital information to assist the pathologist in determining the cause and manner of death.
Time on the job: Three years with Office of the Medical Examiner.
Résumé highlight: Took and passed the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigation exam in 2007. It is a 250-question test that takes 4 hours to complete.
Life lessons learned on the job: “I have learned to look at life in a different manner. There are many things that I used to take for granted and have had to re-evaluate. I deal with families at their worst moments in their lives. With that being said comes the many different phases of emotions. Sometimes they are hysterical, sometimes emotionless, sometimes in denial, sometimes at peace with it, and many times they are very angry and upset. They will cry and ask you why, or ask if you can bring them back and save them. A lot of times they will yell at you – especially when you’re taking their loved one away. The one thing that I have to keep in mind is that they aren’t angry with me and that I can’t take things that are said personally. But most importantly when I hear a family say thank you it reminds me of why I do the job that I do.”
Most important skills to possess in your field: “In this field you must be very detail oriented, know how to multi-task, have patience, have a strong stomach, be able to separate work from personal life, and most importantly have compassion.”
How did you select this career field: “I worked in a jail for almost 14 years and in an emergency room for 7 years. After working in those fields I knew I couldn’t work at a regular 9 to 5 job. In this field I have the best of both worlds.”
Mentors/role models: “My parents are my role models. My dad worked construction all his life and my mom stayed at home and raised me, my sister and my brother who has cerebral palsy. Looking back sometimes things were tough but they did the best they could possibly do. I have told my mom if I could be just a fourth of the woman that she is I’d be one heck of a woman.”
Closing quote: “I am the beginning piece of a puzzle being put together. I am an extension of the eyes, ears, and hands for the medical examiners in our office. Without field work, needed evidence would be lost or just not collected. We are one of the last voices heard.”
Do medical examiners solve
a murder in 60 minutes?
“Unfortunately, TV has given a lot of people a misconception of what our office does. No, cases do not get solved that fast. Sometimes it takes months. Our office covers all of Maricopa County, which is approximately 9,200 square miles. We have 20 investigators and our office averages about 7,200 cases a year. Maricopa County is one of the fastest growing counties in the United States. It is not possible for us to solve cases in 60 minutes. TV is all about glamour but the reality is that I don’t wear high heels and skirts to work. Instead it’s steel-toed boots, BDU (utility) pants, and polo shirts with our county logo, my name and title.”
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.