Become a Local Medical Examiner

Thank you for your interest in being appointed as a local medical examiner. You will be joining an organization that has gained world-wide respect for its scientific thoroughness, legal preciseness and human compassion. As a local medical examiner you will play a critical role in Virginia’s medicolegal system. Your decisions will set in motion a chain of events that can dramatically affect families, law enforcement officials and the state’s judicial system.

Many of our local medical examiners serve out of a sense of community responsibility.   Others enjoy the interaction they have with their community’s first responders and law enforcement officials. These intangible aspects of the job are added incentives to the pay they receive for their services. Whatever your reasons for serving may be, we are sure you will gain a new sense of fulfillment as a local medical examiner. Our system simply would not function if it weren’t for the compassionate, community minded physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants like you throughout the Commonwealth who choose to become local medical examiners.

Qualifications of a Local Medical Examiner

The minimum requirements to be a local medical examiner in Virginia include:

  • A valid Virginia license as a doctor of medicine or osteopathy, Nurse Practitioner, or Physician Assistant
  • An appointment by Virginia’s chief medical examiner
  • A valid United States driver’s license

Once appointed, the statutory term for a local medical examiner is three years beginning on October 1 of the year of appointment. The Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. William Gormley, can make interim appointments between official appointment dates. Therefore, appointments as a local medical examiner may occur any time of the year and re-reappointments at official appointment times.

A Virginia city or county medical examiner is a physician (doctor of medicine or osteopathic medicine), a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant appointed by law to determine the cause and manner of death of persons who die under specific circumstances spelled out by law. For some background information on the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the types of deaths investigated by the medical examiner system please click here.

Although it is impossible to place a monetary value on the services the medical examiner offers to his or her community, the local medical examiners are compensated on a case-by-case basis. Payment is $150 per case that falls under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner and an additional $50 if a scene visit is conducted. Another service local medical examiners provide is cremation authorizations for funeral homes and crematories. This authorization is required for cremation of any decedent who died in Virginia. The authorization entails external examination of the remains and review of the death certificate to assure that any necessary forensic investigation of the death is complete. Funeral homes pay the local medical examiner $100 for each cremation authorized.

Please send a letter of interest requesting appointment as a local medical examiner along with a copy of your curriculum vitae, driver’s license, and Virginia professional license to:

William T. Gormley, M.D., Chief Medical Examiner
Virginia Department of Health
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
400 East Jackson Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-3694

Submit questions about becoming a local medical examiner here.