A morgue assistant supports a morgue pathologist in the preparation and examination of bodies. A morgue assistant job description requires some background knowledge of anatomy and physiology, as well as the willingness to handle organs and take samples from the deceased.
A morgue assistant performs a number of different duties that help to expedite the identification and autopsy process, including setting up and cleaning up the morgue area, transporting bodies, and preparing sample slides.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities of a Morgue Assistant
- Assists pathologist in identifying bodies via fingerprint and tooth analysis.
- Cleans and prepares bodies for autopsy.
- Sterilizes autopsy equipment and sets out all necessary instruments for the pathologist.
- Assists pathologist during the autopsy, providing him or her with the necessary medical instruments.
- Offers second opinion or interpretation of forensic evidence as needed.
- Cleans up morgue area following autopsy process.
- Washes and sterilizes all instruments after autopsy.
- Places and stores bodies in morgue trays.
- Ensures that all bodies are properly stored in their assigned locations.
- Takes skin and fluid samples from bodies and prepares slides for further analysis.
- Manages and organizes morgue records on each deceased person being examined.
- Helps write up and log autopsy reports.
- Takes photographs of bodies.
- Releases body to family or other authorized party after examination.
- Speaks to family and friends to provide them with updates on the autopsy ifs necessary.
- Provides additional assistance and support to pathologist and coroner as needed.
- Monitors morgue and signs in visitors, law enforcement and government officials, and legal personnel.
Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
- Demonstrates familiarity with anatomy and physiology.
- Exhibits ability to work calmly and professionally with gruesome or unidentifiable bodies.
- Demonstrates strong organizational skills.
- Possesses the strength necessary to transport and lift bodies.
- Pays close attention to detail.
- Possesses the dexterity needed to handle sensitive organs and instruments.
- Communicates well with others, particularly the attending pathologist or coroner.
- Demonstrates empathy and sensitivity when working with families of the deceased.
- Must be willing to work odd hours and/or overnight shifts.
Education and Experience
- High school diploma or GED required.
- Previous work experience in health care or health services preferred.
- Associate’s Degree or some post-high school coursework in a health sciences field preferred.
- The majority of working hours will be spent in the temperature-controlled morgue and in exam rooms.
- Time will also be spent interacting with families, funeral homes, and other pathologists in the lab.
- Much of the workday will be spent on one’s feet, with a significant amount of walking and lifting.
- May be required to work night shifts.
- The average salary of a morgue assistant is approximately $30,000.
- Starting salaries for the lowest paid, entry-level positions can be as low as $17,000.
- The most experienced assistants can make up to $45,000.