The medical field is home to a huge amount of employment opportunities, and along with them some great benefits for you to enjoy. From excellent wages to solid job stability, it makes a lot of sense to pursue a job in the healthcare field. And when you have mastered your field, you can move into additional areas of employment. While teaching or entering a research position are two valid options, another one that can be filled with financial rewards and personal satisfaction is to become a medical expert.
It’s worth noting that many medical experts continue working in their field while also serving as a medical expert, using it as a kind of side profession that brings extra income and allows them to broaden their area of practice. If you’re curious about what a medical expert does or how you can become one, keep reading to learn more.
What Is a Medical Expert?
The chances are good that you’ve at least seen a fictionalized version of a medical expert in action. They’re the people who take the stand during criminal or civil trials and provide expert testimony to the court. The most common example is a psychiatrist who delivers their opinion on whether or not a defendant is competent to stand trial, but there are numerous other examples that fall into the category as well.
A medical expert will have a few basic duties, including the following.
- Examine the medical evidence related to the trial
- Perform any needed examinations related to health or medicine
- Review toxicology reports
- Review emergency room reports
- Develop an unbiased opinion concerning the medical facts of the case
- Arrive in court on the appropriate date and time, then deliver testimony about the findings you have made
In short, you’ll review the information and evidence and form a medical opinion. You won’t report on your thoughts about the case or about guilt or innocence, but instead deliver very clear, concise, and unbiased information about any medical issues related to the case.
There are numerous reasons that a medical expert may take the stand, including providing an opinion about how a person died, how injuries on a person could have been caused, and more.
Nature of the Work
The job combines office work with one or more appearances in court. A medical expert may need to meet with attorneys or with a judge, or even examine a patient in person. They’ll gather available medical evidence and then review it, usually in their office or the office of an attorney. Then, they’ll form their opinion and attend the trial where they will give their opinion.
The job will often involve travel, since the medical expert must go to the courtroom in order to deliver their testimony.
It’s important to note that medical experts do get paid for their efforts, and many of them act in a kind of consultant role. They’ll usually continue operating their practice or working in their position, but will work to deliver their services to the court as needed also. As such, the job is fairly flexible and something that is easy for most medical professionals to fit into their schedules.
Education and Training
There are no set ‘requirements’ for becoming a medical expert. However, you’ll need to be just that – an expert – in order to assume duties as one. This generally means that you must be practicing or have practiced medicine in the appropriate field for an extended period of time. Many states or courtrooms will have their own interpretation of what an expert is, but you will need to have completed medical school and practiced medicine for several years before most will accept your testimony.
With that in mind, it’s also important for those who are tapped to be a medical expert to spend some time learning a few basic principles related to the process. You’ll need to learn more about legal requirements, for example, and ensure that you follow all appropriate protocols.
The pay for medical experts varies greatly from state to state, case to case. You’ll most likely be paid on a per-case or per-testimony basis, although this could vary as well. The demand for these professionals is expected to grow at a rate that is on par with the national average.