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Smithtown Central School District
Smithtown Central
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High School science students visited by forensics expert

November 29, 2023

Students in the PLTW biomedical science pathway received a firsthand look at what it’s like to be a forensic pathologist Wednesday morning.

Dr. Amy Rapkiewicz, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for The Suffolk County Police Department, presented to all PLTW Principles in Biomedical Science students at both High School East and West.

Dr. Rapkiewicz led students through a “virtual autopsy” and toxicology reports to determine the cause of death of various patients. She also discussed how the manner of death is determined on the death certificate.

“When we’re filling out death certificates we’re really trying to be an accurate storyteller.” Dr. Rapkiewicz told the students.

Students asked questions such as “How do you maintain good mental health in such a difficult profession” and “Do you follow the cases if they go to court to see what the verdict was?”

In response to students asking about the most common causes of death in Suffolk County, Dr. Rapkiewicz explained, sadly, approximately 35% were due to cocaine and fentanyl drug overdoses.

The educational pathway to becoming a forensic pathologist as well as potential pathways to careers that work in collaboration with the medical examiner were discussed.

Dr. Rapkiewicz speaking to students

Dr. Rapkiewicz speaking to students

forensics presentation

Dr. Rapkiewicz speaking to students