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A day in the life of a Forensic scientist

Forensic Medicine is many exciting things if you can get over the sight of blood and the fear of dead bodies. It is about justice, about truth and the satisfaction of turning frowns into smiles. If you are a fan of forensic and investigation shows such as Cold Case, CIS and Mystery Detectives, then you already have one-foot in. All you need now is to build that interest with the right qualifications to set you on a thrilling and sought after journey.

Step 1: Score grade ‘A’ in your Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education

Step 2: Join a university that offers a degree in Medicine or Dentistry. During this period, you will acquire a deeper understanding of human biology, disease processes, medical solutions, dental examinations and how to take a medical history amongst others.

Step 3: Graduate with a degree in Medicine or Dentistry after 5-6 years of study.

Step 4: Undertake your medical internship to equip you with the practical skills for your career. This usually takes 1 year and should be done in medical institutions that have been approved by the Ministry of Health and the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board.

Step 4: Pursue a Masters in Forensic Medicine (1-2 years)

Step 5: Undertake additional courses to buffer your qualifications in line with the demands of the forensic science industry. You may take 15 or more years to specialize as a forensic scientist.  

There are a few, if any, local universities that are adequately providing tuition in forensic sciences. Those who have chosen this career path often recommend studying abroad (through scholarships or self-sponsorship) and coming back to work in Kenya. It is nevertheless a rewarding academic and professional choice to make.

Career opportunities in Forensic Medicine

As a forensic pathologist you can work privately or for a government agency such as the police, military or at the Ministry of Health.

Soft skills

Self-confidence- This cuts across your studies and interactions with others within the field. You must believe in yourself for others to believe in you. 

Self-motivation- if you have to be reminded to study and make good of your gifts and talents, then maybe this is not for you. As an aspiring forensic scientist you must always be curious and go beyond the expected.  

Team work- You will meet people with real lives and real stories. You must be approachable and ready to work with others. Also given how dynamic the profession is, you will need to interact with different institutions to get to the truth and find justice for your clients.

Perseverance – 5 or more years of study is not easy. The working environment can also be physically and emotionally draining given the cases you are presented with. You must have loads of patience and a positive attitude.

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