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2024 Changes to ABMDI Certification Process

Tue Apr, 23 2024
The ABMDI was formed in 1996 when the first working group for Medicolegal Death Investigators started to work on the NIJ “Guidelines for Death Investigation” which was published in 1999. The guide was updated once in 2011 and the NIJ anticipates the second update to be available in June 2024. ABMDI leadership has been involved in all revisions of the guidelines and continues to update our certification to assure that the ABMDI is staying consistent with national recommendations and guidelines.

As with any organization, our policies and procedures have changed over time to accommodate changes in the field. Changes have also been made based on information relayed to the ABMDI office in regard to application and testing processes. The ABMDI is also accredited by the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board which is ISO 17011 compliant and requires each of their accredited organizations to follow specific guidelines. Some of the most significant changes to ABMDI certification have to do directly with FSAB requirements. The following are all changes made to the ABMDI in order to remain accredited:

2006 – Require 45 hours of approved continuing education hours in a five-year certification cycle.

2007 – Require current employment with a medical examiner/ coroner office with a minimum of 640 hours of experience and at least a high school diploma.

2008 – All retests completed online to improve exam security.

2013 – All examinations are to be administered at college or university testing centers by testing center staff, which is a non-invested third party.

2014 – Time between testing changed from 21 days to 60 days. Recertification examination offered in lieu of current employment at time of recertification for a one-time extension.

2020 – Time between testing changed from 60 days to 30 days.

Along with the changes implemented to maintain FSAB accreditation, there were other policies set into place as a result of complaints made by applicants and certificants about parts of the certification process that were difficult to complete, as well as alleged unethical conduct that occurred during the application and recertification process. Below are changes that started January 1, 2024 and changes that will take effect June 1, 2024.

Effective January 1, 2024:

• Registry Certification has been divided into two tracks: Associate and Diplomate. Associate certification was developed to accommodate rural areas that do not have a large enough population to meet the minimum number of hours of death scene investigation. It is intended to also accommodate the offices that do not have jurisdiction to respond to scenes, but do complete medicolegal death investigations over the phone. All Registry employment verification forms will ask if the applicant has the required 100 hours of on-scene medicolegal death investigation experience in order to determine for which track the applicant is eligible.

• An electronic version of the application packet and recertification packet is now available via DocuSign eliminating unnecessary shipping costs, the chance of the document being lost in the mail, and the need to have the document notarized.

• The electronic version of the “Fundamental Tasks of Medicolegal Death Investigation” replaced the previously used “Performance Training Guidebook Checklist.” This helps to further eliminate any need to send in original documents that may be lost or damaged. Existing examination questions were re-categorized into the updated sections of the “Fundamental Tasks of Medicolegal Death Investigation.”

• New testing platform was implemented from January to March 2024. This platform is a high-stakes examination platform with added security features to improve the security of examination questions and keep the examination scores reliable, valid, and safe.

Effective June 1, 2024:

• Applicants will be required to have met all of the application requirements AT THE TIME OF requesting an application for certification. The updated electronic application process has cut the length of the application process dramatically. It is suggested to print a copy of the “Fundamental Tasks of Medicolegal Death Investigation” to use a template prior to applying. This will ensure that the applicant and trainer are aware of what they will be signing. There is an additional fee if trainers need to be changed after the application request is submitted.

• Applications will be valid for 12 months, no longer 18 months.

• Virtual proctoring will be utilized for ABMDI examinations. Examinations will be proctored through MonitorEdu which requires the applicant/ certificant have a webcam and a mobile phone with a functioning camera. This eliminates the need for the applicant to find a testing center or proctor and will also allow for those that work evening, night, or weekend shifts to take the examination at a time that works best for them. This also guarantees that the proctor is a disinterested third party. This allows for testing immediately after being approved to sit for the examination. 30 days between testing and retesting will remain as it is a FSAB standard.

• Examination fees will be increased by $50 to include virtual proctoring. The ABMDI has not raised examination fees since 2010 and has made business decisions to keep fees as low as possible knowing that many medicolegal death investigators must pay for the examination on their own. The updated examination fees eliminate the additional cost to a college or university testing center for proctoring. The examination prices as of June 1, 2024 are below:
Registry Examination (to include proctor): $400

Registry Retest (to include proctor): One section – $150
Two sections – $250
Three or more sections – $350
Board Certification Examination (to include proctor): $450

Board Certification Retest (to include proctor): One section – $150
Two sections – $250
Three or more sections – $350

Recertification Examination (to include proctor): $250

Recertification Retest (to include proctor): One section – $100
Two sections – $150
Three or more sections – $200