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FY21 Broward County Medical Examiner Fellowship

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Past Project Period End Date
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $163,055)

The United States is experiencing a severe shortage of board-certified forensic pathologists.  Currently, there is an estimated 500 board-certified forensic pathologists working compared to the recommended range of 1,100-1,200. This critical shortage may undermine the local, state, and federal criminal justice systems with the lack of forensic pathologists to perform examinations in a timely manner.   


The Broward County Office of Medical Examiner & Trauma Services (BCOMETS) requests funding to train one full-time Forensic Pathology Fellow to help offset the critical shortage of forensic pathologists. BCOMETS is one of 25 medical examiner districts within Florida. The office investigates all violent, suspicious, unnatural and unattended deaths to determine cause and manner of death, which aids law enforcement investigations and unmasks trends that aid in public health and safety. BCOMETS finds itself overwhelmed with a significant increase in drug overdoses (up 44% from 2019; 26.5% from the height of the Opioid epidemic), homicides (up 22% from 2019), and even as the pandemic subsides, we still have a number of COVID19 cases that meet BCOMETS jurisdiction. Persons living in low income neighborhoods have been affected disproportionately with higher rates of drug related deaths, homicides, and COVID19. Broward County’s in-house forensic toxicology laboratory consistently ranks within the top three medical examiner districts in terms of annual workload.  


The fellow will be provided a comprehensive educational experience at an ACGME and NAME accredited medical examiner office which includes an onsite toxicology laboratory. The forensic pathology program director and seven board-certified forensic pathologists will share their vast, and varied expertise through closely guided mentoring, thus, preparing the fellow to become an exceedingly capable forensic pathologist. The fellow will have access to a board-certified Neuropathologist and a cardiac pathologist when a case warrants their expertise.


BCOMETS is one of the few medical examiner offices in the country that uses Lodox®, a full body imaging scanner, that helps triage cases before examinations. In addition to performing over 200 autopsies, the fellow will respond to death scenes, participate in crime scene investigations, courtroom and deposition testimonies, and monthly countywide trauma services meetings, opioid fatality review, domestic violence review, and child death review.  The Medicolegal Death Investigation community will be enriched by the contributions of the fellow upon completion of this invaluable training experience.


This will help BCOMETS to produce qualified, highly trained, forensic pathologists. It will continue to help increase BCOMETS visibility nationwide, which will attract top candidates.  BCOMETS will do its part in acquiring more fellowship positions in the future, hence decreasing the overall national shortage of forensic pathologists.

Date Created: November 4, 2021