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Program Description

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), in conjunction with UNC Hospitals and the UNC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, offers a one-year fellowship in forensic pathology. The program is fully accredited by the ACGME and is under the direction of the Chief Medical Examiner of the State of North Carolina. The OCME is located in Raleigh and is a branch of the North Carolina Division of Public Health, Department of Health and Human Services. The OCME also functions as the Division of Forensic Pathology in the UNC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. The trainee performs 200–250 forensic autopsies during the one-year fellowship. These cases represent a wide spectrum of natural and traumatic causes of death. All autopsy examinations are performed under the supervision of board-certified forensic pathologists. The fellow is expected to manage his/her own cases and to seek assistance as needed. The fellow participates fully in all duties of the central office of a state-wide medical examiner system, including medical examiner training, quality assurance by review of all medical examiner cases submitted to the OCME, scene investigations, and court appearances. Consultations in subspecialty areas, including neuropathology, pediatric pathology, forensic odontology, and forensic radiology, are readily available within the UNC Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. Forensic anthropology services are provided by a board-certified Forensic Anthropologist at NC State University. Ancillary laboratory studies, including clinical chemistry, microbiology, and special histology, are also available through WakeMed Hospital.

The OCME is the central administrative office for the state-wide medical examiner system in North Carolina. The system investigates about 12,000 deaths in North Carolina each year. Approximately 40% of these deaths are autopsied, with one-third of the autopsies being performed by the OCME staff and two-thirds by contract with pathologists located throughout the state. The trainee will also serve as a county medical examiner, perform external examinations, and make decisions about the disposition of case calls. All investigative reports and autopsy reports from the entire state are reviewed by the OCME staff. The trainee fully participates in this review process. The trainee receives OCME support to attend a national forensic pathology meeting (National Association of Medical Examiners or American Academy of Forensic Sciences) and a forensic anthropology course during the course of the fellowship.

Program Requirements

Applicants must have an MD or DO degree and APCP-4 or AP-3 training. The applicant must also be eligible for medical licensure in North Carolina and have a NC medical license by the beginning of the training year.


The fellowship salary is competitive, and the benefits are those extended to other state employees, including health insurance, annual leave, sick leave, and retirement.

Program Director

Craig Nelson, M.D.


The Standardized Application for Pathology Fellowships from the College of American Pathologists, 3 current letters of recommendation (one of which must be from your Program Director), and ECFMG certification should be submitted to the PROGRAM DIRECTOR and PROGRAM COORDINATOR  at the same time. UNC Hospitals’ Housestaff Policies are available for review on the Graduate Medical Education website

Along with the majority of US forensic pathology fellowship programs, the NC OCME participates in the National Resident Matching Program (The Match) in forensic pathology:

Applications are accepted beginning July 15, and complete applications including letters of recommendation are due by December 15 of the year prior to the next spring Match.

The program director will contact applicants upon receipt of a complete application. If an application has been submitted and no response has been received (and you confirmed your letters of recommendation were sent), please inquire with the program director as to the status. However, the program director will not contact you to alert you that your application is incomplete by the deadline.

Interviews will be conducted remotely by Microsoft Teams from October 1 through February 28. A limited number of interview dates is available.

After ranking closes and the rank list has been submitted, OCME will offer an open house to applicants interested in a site visit. However, no other in-person visits (other than scheduled rotations) are available.

For additional information, please contact…

For further information and to submit the completed application and additional required documents (see application coversheet) contact:

Michelle Hewlings
Program Coordinator, GME in Anatomic Pathology
303 Brinkhous-Bullitt Bldg CB 7525
Chapel Hill NC 27514-7525
Telephone: 984-974-9132

At the same time, alert the Program Director ( of your interest.