A Medical Expert From a Morgue Talks About His Job and Gives Tips on How to Avoid Ending Up on His Table

The job of a medical expert is traditionally on the list of the most unwanted jobs in the world. But many people don’t even know much about this occupation — everything they know is based on movie stereotypes. We know very little about this job because frankly, we’re afraid of thinking about death. But we shouldn’t be because death, as strange as it sounds, is a part of life.

Bright Side asked a medical expert with 30 years of experience to tell us about his profession. Aleksey Kupryishin was the head of a regional forensic morgue. Today, he’s a pathologist and a forensic medical expert. Kupryishin also provides non-governmental medical forensic expertise. Recently, Kupryishin started his own blog where he refers to his job as “lively and interesting”. And we can’t exactly disagree with him.

Choosing this profession

  • The main reason why I became a medical expert is the investigative aspect. It’s like a drug. It’s boring to live without it.
  • A Medical Expert From a Morgue Talks About His Job and Gives Tips on How to Avoid Ending Up on His Table
  • What’s the point? Nobody except you knows what there is behind the appearance, the skin, and bones of a specific person. Only you know that. Often, only you know why a person died.
  • Sometimes, medical experts are people who were not able to become other doctors. I, for instance, can’t imagine myself as a surgeon. It is completely impossible for me to mess with something alive. All I can do to a living person is give them an injection.
  • People often confuse forensic medical experts with pathologists but they’re not the same thing. They are different specialties but they have a lot in common. They have the same object of research — a corpse. The general autopsy technique is the same, just the details are different. The goals are also different: pathologists are part of the treatment and diagnostic process while forensic medical experts work for justice.
  • It is really hard to find nurses. People often come, work for a month, realize they can’t do it and leave even though they’ve received a stable and pretty high salary. Once, we spent an entire month looking for a nurse. My wife (she used to be a pathologist) was in a taxi once and talked to the driver. It must have been the way she talked about the morgue that made the guy want to come and try the job out. In order to become a nurse in a morgue, you don’t need a special education, you simply learn when you get the job. The taxi driver came and stayed. He still works here.

About his routine

  • One medical expert performs 300-400 autopsies per year in a city with 1,000,000 inhabitants. Sometimes, even 500. This is way too many: the normal number should be around 100 but it is never achieved. This is terrible. There is too much work for people to take the time to learn and develop. There are not enough medical experts, and medical students are not really eager to work in morgues.
  • A medical expert spends far more time in their office than in the room with bodies. The research of bodies is not the only way to receive information. In my practice, I’ve had cases when a study lasted for several hours, and the analysis along with any conclusions took several days.
  • A good sense of smell gives medical experts certain advantages when the job is to determine what poison was used to kill a victim. During the research period, there are a lot of different smells. If a person was poisoned with ammonia, there is a smell of carbolic acid; dichloroethane gives a smell of rotten dry mushrooms; hydrogen cyanide or nitrobenzene smells like bitter almonds; amyl alcohol smells like fusel alcohol; butyl alcohol smells like fruit; and metrifonate smells like garlic.