Answering the Call
Banerjee left the Rhode Island Office of the Medical Examiner in 2021. She contracts part time for the Clark County medical examiner in Las Vegas, and has been a contract forensic pathologist for the states of Maine and New Hampshire. That’s in part because there is a “critical” workforce shortage, according to the US Department of Justice’s 2019 Report to Congress: Needs Assessment of Forensic Laboratories and Medical Examiner/Coroner Offices. The National Association of Medical Examiners reports there are fewer than 500 board-certified forensic pathologists in this country, with fewer than 50 being trained each year—a shortfall that the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated.
This comes as no surprise to Banerjee. She cites the many years of training required (four years of medical school followed by three years of pathology residency followed by a year of fellowship) and the relatively modest salaries for a publicly employed ME, noting wryly that forensic pathology is “the only pathology specialty where you earn less money by doing a fellowship.” But she is quick to add: “You do this work because you love it. I truly believe it’s my calling.”