Forensic Pathology

Forensic Pathology Residency Training Program Overview

Program Length: One year
Session Dates: July 1 – June 30
Program Structure: Series of mandatory and elective rotations as well as weekly didactic sessions
Evaluation Methods: Direct Observation, Written and Practice Exams, Resident Portfolio
Program Director: M. Pollanen
Accreditation: Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Canada



Program Structure

The residency is 12-months in duration divided into rotations as follows:

  • Six months of core general forensic pathology, including pediatric forensic pathology (July-December) at the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit
  • Five months additional training in general forensic pathology at the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit
  • One month elective rotation.

The program consists of four major educational components:

  • performing autopsies and scene visits
  • observation of autopsies and court testimony
  • academic half-days
  • seminars and special events.

Performing Autopsies: Residents will perform ~150 medicolegal autopsies across the age spectrum under the supervision of a forensic pathologist on the faculty of the residency program. The main daily teaching event for forensic pathology is the morning round, which has a case management and an educational component. Residents will be responsible for all aspects of the case including prosection and reporting.

The core of the residency is the first six months which will consist of a concentrated autopsy and didactic component. The academic half-days are weighted to the first six months of the residency year.

Observation and Dissection Skill Development: Residents will observe and assist in other autopsies to which they are not assigned as the main prosector. There is no specific number of cases set for observation. In addition, the program director will provide specific instruction for performing special forensic dissections. The resident will also observe forensic pathologists giving expert testimony in court.

Medical Expert Content: The program consists of detailed exposure to:

  • General forensic pathology
  • Forensic pathology administration and quality assurance
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Forensic neuropathology
  • Pediatric forensic pathology

General Forensic Pathology: The core rotation will be an immersion into the evidence-based approach to forensic pathology using medicolegal autopsies and didactic methods as the foundation. Skills developed during this rotation:

  • Daily autopsy
  • Special forensic dissection
  • Autopsy report writing
  • Determination and communication of the cause of death

The five additional months of general forensic pathology will be directed to further development of autopsy skills and the development of the evidenced-based approach to homicide and criminally suspicious cases.

Pediatric Forensic Pathology: In the daily practice of forensic pathology, there will be an immersion into the evidence-based approach to forensic pathology of infancy and childhood. The resident will perform autopsies regularly and learn the autopsy methods applicable to child abuse and sudden death in infancy.

Forensic Pathology Administration: Job shadow the Chief Forensic Pathologist at administrative meetings, court, committee meetings (government and university), and gain exposure to administration of the regional Forensic Pathology Units in Ontario. In addition, all quality assurance issues and cases will be discussed with the residents.

Forensic Anthropology: Resident will have a concentrated exposure to forensic anthropology including examination of skeletal remains and in-depth analysis of the human identification, including antemortem-postmortem comparisons from missing persons databases.

Forensic Neuropathology: Residents will have a concentrated exposure to forensic neuropathology, including examination of fixed brains with a neuropathologist.

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Applying to the Program

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants to this program must have completed residency training in an RCPSC-accredited program in General Pathology or Anatomical pathology. 

Application Procedure

Along with the Application Form, the following documents (at a minimum) will be required; applicants should anticipate that further documentation will be needed based on individual circumstances.

ALL documentation is to be submitted to:
Forensic Pathology Residency Training Program
Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology
Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
1 King's College Circle, Rm 6231, Toronto ON, M5S 1A8
Fax: 416-978-7361    Email: pathology.residency@utoronto.ca

  1. Cover Letter/Personal Statement
  2. Curriculum Vitae
  3. Three Reference Letters from your postgraduate training program or recent employment to be sent directly to the LMP Postgraduate Office.
  4. Specialty Certificate from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in General Pathology or Anatomical Pathology. If you plan on completing your Specialty training before the session start date of July 1 in the year you are applying, please have a letter of good standing with your expected completion date sent to the LMP Postgraduate Office from your Program Director.

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