Train to become a medical examiner

What do medical examiners do?

Medical examiner offices review medical records and interact with qualified attending practitioners and the bereaved to address three key questions:

  • What did the person die from? (ensuring accuracy of the medical certificate of cause of death)
  • Does the death need to be reported to a coroner? (ensuring timely and accurate referral – there are national requirements)
  • Are there any clinical governance concerns? (ensuring the relevant notification is made where appropriate).

To become a medical examiner, you first need to ensure you have the right knowledge and qualifications, before completing both online and face-to-face training.

Who can be a medical examiner? 

You can apply to become a medical examiner if you: 

  • have at least five years’ experience as a fully registered medical practitioner
  • are currently practising in England, Wales, Northern Ireland or Gibraltar 
  • hold a licence to practise with the General Medical Council (GMC). 

In addition, you’ll need to demonstrate: 

  • up-to-date knowledge of medical conditions, treatments and causes of death
  • knowledge of relevant legislation and processes
  • knowledge of local and national clinical governance systems
  • strong communication skills that enable them to deliver their role in a compassionate, professional and discreet manner
  • ability to work in a multidisciplinary team.

Any practising, or recently retired (within the last five years) medical practitioner who has been fully registered for at least five years and has a licence to practise with the GMC can apply to become a medical examiner. The National Medical Examiner recommends that medical examiners should be consultant grade doctors or other senior doctors from a range of disciplines or GPs with an equivalent level of experience. Non-medics cannot perform the role of the medical examiner.

The majority of current medical examiners are hospital consultants and GPs. Experienced SAS doctors and senior trainees are also eligible to work as medical examiners, subject to the requirements of their employing organisation. Medical examiners should have at least five years post-qualification experience before taking on the role. While completion of training is mandatory for all medical examiners, there is no automatic entitlement to work as a medical examiner after completing the training. Most organisations will appoint following competitive interviews to identify the individuals best suited to providing the service locally. 

What requirements should be in a medical examiner’s job description?

A model job description for medical examiners is available on the College website

Medical examiner offices will generally be hosted at acute hospital sites in England and Wales. Acute hospitals should incorporate the medical examiner role into job plans for doctors employed as medical examiners. The medical examiner role is classified as an additional responsibility and either replaces a direct clinical care programmed activity or is an addition to this in an existing job plan, depending on what is feasible for the individual. The role should not be undertaken in supporting programmes activity time.

Take the next step and train to become a medical examiner

Training for medical examiners has 2 components; e-learning and face-to-face training.


All Medical Examiners should complete the 26 core e-learning modules before starting work in their role. There is no minimum time requirement but most people take 8-10 hours to complete the modules.

Once appointed, medical examiners should undertake continuing professional development (CPD) activities relevant to their role. This should include the remaining modules in the e-learning programme.

Complete your medical examiner core e-learning modules

Face-to-face learning 

Medical examiners should also attend a face-to-face training day within 6 months of starting the role. Attendance is only possible once the 26 core e-learning modules have been completed. Training days are held either online via Zoom, or in person at the College in London.

This essential training will include short presentations and small group discussions of case scenarios that medical examiners are likely to come across. The scenarios will be sent to delegates in advance so that they can consider how they would deal with each one. Model answers will be circulated following the event.

Find medical examiner training dates in our calendar