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Grim glamour: what is forensic pathology like as a career?

Rob Chapman is one of the few full time Home Office accredited forensic pathologists in practice in England and Wales. He agreed to be interviewed by Richard Jones via mobile phone, having just finished a postmortem examination after a suspicious death

  • By: Richard Jones
  • Published: 01 April 2002
  • DOI: 10.1136/sbmj.0204111
  • Cite this as: Student BMJ 2002;10:89–130

In 13 years in his career, Rob Chapman estimates that he has carried out approximately 12 000 autopsies. He has joined together with several colleagues to provide forensic pathology services in the south east of England. All the team members have a background in academic forensic pathology at Charing Cross, Guy's, and, most recently, St George's medical schools. The group covers much of the metropolitan police area, where the homicide rate this year is running at a depressing one each day.

I really started my career in forensic pathology by accident: I was working as an senior house officer in pathology, in which I rotated throughout various pathology specialties. The opportunity arose for me to obtain a lectureship in histopathology in the Charing Cross Department of Forensic Pathology, under Professor David Bowen. I thought I would try it out and have never looked back.

I have been asked by various

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