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Royal Stories - a pathologist's tale
Marie Smith's job is not one you hear about every day - she is the hospital's Mortuary Manager.
Marie has been working in Derby's hospital for 19 years and she now has what she would she would probably describe as the world's most fascinating job - though it isn't to everyone's taste. When she tells people what she does, it often prompts some to say 'My goodness how could you do such a job?!'
Marie is the manager of the mortuary - officially, she is an anatomical pathology technician: "The bulk of our work is performing post mortem examinations to find the cause of death. In doing that we give families closure.
"We also conduct viewings - so if relatives want to come to the mortuary to say goodbye to their loved ones they have the facility to do that and they can spend as much time as they want to here."
Marie has worked in the mortuary for 19 years
Marie believes that you need a love of anatomy and physiology to do her job - and it was a chance application which led to her working in the mortuary: "Prior to this I was nursing - and I've always been interested in anatomy and physiology... but you don't really see a great deal of that on the ward. When I saw the job advertised for a trainee position in the mortuary I applied, not expecting to get it."
But get it she did and has been there ever since.
One of the other qualities Marie believes is essential to the job is a good sense of humour: "You can understand that it isn't the easiest job to do and you do have to have some sort of outlet and we all have a very good sense of humour.
"I'm very lucky because I have a good team here who are very dedicated to the job."
That team includes ten pathologists who perform up to eight post mortems a day in what is a very busy mortuary.
The job also entails liasing with the coroner's office and the police, including scenes of crime officers as it is also their job to investigate, for example, sudden deaths in the community.
last updated: 03/07/2009 at 16:53