The Profession of Medical Illustration
Medical Illustrators are specially trained artists who communicate complex medical and scientific information and concepts in a meaningful, aesthetic, and understandable manner. This fascinating and unique profession requires not only a love of art but an affinity for science as well.
The demands placed upon the contemporary medical illustrator are varied and numerous. Medical illustrators may illustrate innovative surgical procedures for medical journals, design multimedia websites, produce 3D animated films of cellular processes, or hand craft prosthetic appliances for patients. Many medical illustrators are employed by medical schools, urban medical centers, large hospitals, and specialty clinics. They may work in single-artist studios or in large production departments. Advertising agencies and publishers as well as pharmaceutical and medical product companies often use the services of private-practice medical illustrators. Attorneys may commission medical illustrators to produce art to be admitted as educational exhibits and demonstrative evidence in complex legal cases.
The Medical Illustration Program at GRU
The Medical Illustration Graduate Program within the College of Allied Health Sciences at Georgia Regents University is one of only four such programs in the country. Completion of the twenty-one-month curriculum in Medical Illustration results in a Master of Science in Medical Illustration degree granted through the College of Graduate Studies. GRU is part of the University System of Georgia.
Our program is accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.The program was the very first to be granted accreditation, in 1967, and has maintained continuous accreditation ever since. Our accreditation was renewed in 2010, for the full term of 8 years. For more than 35 years, the program has been meeting or exceeding the high standards for graduate education in medical illustration and biomedical communications. Use this link to review our program credentials.
In addition to being skilled artists, medical illustrators must be knowledgeable in anatomy and the health sciences. This is because an illustrator's work, unlike a photograph, must often show what cannot be directly observed in order to best communicate an idea or complex concept. Therefore, an understanding of basic medical subjects is essential. In addition to studying communication theory and illustration techniques, our students also take graduate-level science courses, such as gross anatomy and cell biology, with the medical students.
Visual problem-solving is a crucial skill for the professional medical illustrator. Throughout the curriculum, the faculty work with the students to develop their problem-solving abilities.
In addition to formal classes, seminars and lectures, our students learn by hands-on performance, by participating in project critiques, and by cultivating creative thinking in peer-to-peer interactions. To better prepare our students to be productive in the rapidly evolving world of communications, class assignments are designed to give them not only theoretical knowledge but practical experience as well.
"Medical Illustration," featuring artwork by the faculty and students of the GRU Medical Illustration Graduate Program. Graphic design by Andrew Swift. © 2003 Georgia Health Sciences University. All rights reserved.