Success: Megan Rausch

A double major in criminal justice and nursing may seem like an unusual educational pairing, but it was the perfect combination for Megan Rausch ’07.

Today, Rausch is a Medicolegal Death Investigator, analyzing any death that falls under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner or coroner.

“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.”

“My time at MMU prepared me for a challenging professional career and gave me the ability to be flexible and problem solve.”

Megan Rausch ’07
RN, Medicolegal Death Investigator
Polk County Medical Examiner
Ankeny, IA

After graduating from Mount Mercy University (MMU), Rausch experimented with a few different career opportunities, including two stints in oncology. She found that she loved the cancer patients and the medicine behind oncology, but she 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; it required a nursing degree. She immediately applied and received a call for an interview.

“I was in awe and ecstatic! 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.”

Today, she is a senior investigator and trains/educates new employees and colleagues (police, EMS, and medical staff) about the Medical Examiner’s Office and how to improve death investigation. She also works part-time as an oncology nurse, continuing to hone her nursing skills.  

“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.”

Rausch came to Mount Mercy specifically to attend its well-known nursing program. Her aunt and uncle, MMU graduates Tom Erceg ’79 and Char Erceg ’71, had also given high praise about the benefits of an MMU education.

What Rausch recalls most about her time in college is studying real-life topics and applying real-life scenarios to 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. 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.”

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. 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.”

One of the most important tenets that Rausch has carried forward from MMU in her work is to be open to a holistic, balanced lifestyle. In addition to her work as a Medicolegal Death Investigator, 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. 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.”

Be a Mustang. Success Follows.