The Clark County Coroner/Medical Examiner’s Office in collaboration with the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV has received approval to begin a forensic fellowship program for medical students entering their fifth year of residency. It will be the first program of its kind in the state of Nevada.
There is a nationwide shortage of forensic pathologists, medical doctors trained to conduct death investigations for coroner and medical examiner offices. The new program will be one of about 40 active programs in the United States that has received approval through the Accreditation Counsel for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Medical doctors that conduct autopsies are required to be board certified in forensic pathology as well as anatomical and clinical pathology.
“This is a significant accomplishment for both the Clark County Coroner’s Office and the Kerkorian School of Medicine,” said Clark County Commission Chairman Jim Gibson. “The application process took more than a year to complete and we appreciate the efforts of our staff and UNLV’s medical school to create a program that has earned national accreditation and will help fill an important void in the medical community both locally and nationwide.”
At this time, there are only about 500 forensic pathologists actively working for coroner/medical examiner offices in the United States. There are now about 100 vacancies in the field. UNLV’s medical school and the Clark County Coroner Office program is approved for two graduate fellows each year. The first student is expected to begin training in the program in July 2024.
“We are very excited to be able to offer this program to medical students interested in forensic pathology and to build upon our partnership with the Kerkorian School of Medicine,” said Clark County Coroner Melanie Rouse. “Given the shortage of forensic pathologists nationwide, our program will help recruit and retain physician staff within our community and within this critical profession. Medical students who have completed rotations in our office for up to four weeks will now have the opportunity to return to Clark County following residency for this year-long program to pursue specialization in forensic pathology.”
"The Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV is proud to work with the Clark County Coroner to provide opportunity for our trainees, while also serving our community,” said Marc Kahn, dean of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine. “These types of partnerships are helping transform healthcare in Southern Nevada."
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 11th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to 2.3 million citizens and 45.6 million visitors a year (2019). Included are the nation’s 8th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The County also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to 1 million residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.