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Megan Rausch '07 Headshot

Undergraduate Program

Megan Rausch '07

Criminal Justice & Nursing

Creating her own Program

While people don’t typically think of pairing criminal justice and nursing, it was the perfect fit for Megan Rausch ’07.

Now, Rausch serves as the medicolegal death investigator, analyzing any death that falls under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner or coroner.

Her experience in both nursing and criminal justice degree helped her achieve this position.

“Early on, I was unaware that this profession even existed for nurses,” says Rausch. “I was hired for it because of my criminal justice degree and nursing experience, both of which originated at Mount Mercy University. Looking back, this is what I was meant to do—I just didn’t know it at the time. When I tell people what I do, they often say that I have a ‘CSI’ kind of job."

Looking back, this is what I was meant to do—I just didn’t know it at the time. When I tell people what I do, they often say that I have a ‘CSI’ kind of job.

Megan Rausch '07
Criminal Justice & Nursing

Rausch came to MMU because of its well-known nursing program. Her aunt and uncle, MMU graduates Tom Erceg ’7 and Char Erceg ’71, also gave high praise about the benefits of a Mount Mercy education.

Crossover with criminal justice

Rausch was able to study real-life topics and scenarios, while applying them to what she was studying and learning.

“I especially loved Mock Trial with Deb Brydon. It was the best of both worlds for me—nursing and criminal justice.”

Coincidentally, she played the role of the Medical Examiner several times.

“I had (and still have) a bit of a rebellious spirit, and was constantly challenging our nursing faculty," said Rausch. "My advisor, Kathy Swift, kept me moving forward and kept me focused on my goals throughout the trials of going to college. She helped me get through the program. It’s kind of ironic how my job with the Medical Examiner’s Office requires me to question all things.”

"My advisor, Kathy Swift, kept me moving forward and kept me focused on my goals throughout the trials of going to college. She helped me get through the program."

Finding the right fit

After graduating from Mount Mercy, Rausch tried a few different career opportunities. She tried two different experiences in oncology, and found that she loved the cancer patients and the medicine behind oncology, but knew she wanted to pursue something different.

In 2010, she stumbled upon a posting for an open medicolegal death investigator position on Polk County’s job website that required a nursing degree. She applied and received a call for an interview.

“I was in awe and ecstatic!" said Rausch. "I had read books, and watched TV and movies about autopsy, death investigation, and medical examiners, but never thought it was something that was available to me.”

"I had read books, and watched TV and movies about autopsy, death investigation, and medical examiners, but never thought it was something that was available to me.”

Passing on her knowledge

As part of her job, she is a senior investigator and trains and educates new employees and colleagues (police, EMS, and medical staff) about the medical examiner’s office and how to improve death investigation. She also continues to hone her nursing skills by working part-time as an oncology nurse.

“I really have the best of both worlds, and feel like I’ve found where I belong professionally. That begins with quality education and experiences. My time at MMU prepared me for a challenging professional career and gave me the ability to be flexible and problem solve.”

Giving care and dignity to the forgotten

Rausch is most proud of being recognized among colleagues as someone who cares about the job they do and treats the deceased and their family members with care and dignity.

“I am honored to serve them by being able to find next-of-kin on cases where others have given up or the decedent is homeless or transient," said Rausch. "I also work on cold cases in an effort to identify the decedent and/or notify next-of-kin. This is the part of my job that I love the most. When someone can no longer be their advocate, I try my best to advocate for them. I have a special spot in my heart for that population."

When someone can no longer be their advocate, I try my best to advocate for them. I have a special spot in my heart for that population.

Megan Rausch '07
Criminal Justice & Nursing

Open to opportunities

One of the most impactful lessons Rausch carried with her from Mount Mercy is to be open to a holistic, balanced lifestyle. In addition to her work, she loves working out, playing with her cats, reading, yardwork, softball, kickball, gardening, home renovation, and listening to podcasts—especially true crime.

“If I had my experience at Mount Mercy to do over again, I would have participated in even more experiences that college had to offer," said Rausch. "I focused on my academics and didn’t participate in as many activities or social engagements as I would have liked. I advise Mount Mercy students to do it all! Focus on experiences, no matter how big or small. When you look back someday, it will all make sense. You will end up right where you meant to be—you just might not know it at the time.”

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