Medical Illustration Undergraduate Graduate Degree Programs

In this article, we’ve covered the basics of medical illustration programs. This information will be highly informative if you want to join such a program.

We’ve also discussed the program options, skills learned, what you can do with a medical illustration degree, and several other things.

Medical Illustration Programs

Medical illustration is an essential specialization within the medical field that serves several needs.

These professionals help translate complex medical and scientific information into an easy-to-understand and engaging manner using images and other tools.

  • Schools Offering Medical Illustrations

Before getting into medical illustration programs, let’s first mention a few schools offering medical illustration at undergraduate and graduate levels.

Some of the best schools at undergraduate levels include Iowa State University and Lamar Dodd School of Art.

It’s offered as a scientific illustration at Arcadia University and Life Sciences Illustration at Cleveland Institute of Art. Medical illustration is also offered at the Rochester Institute of Technology undergraduate level, while Zurich University of Arts provides a BA in design and scientific visualization.

At the graduate level, California State University offers it as a scientific illustration, while it remains in medical illustration at Rochester Institute of Technology.

The Medical Artist’s Education Trust offers it as medical art. The same goes for the University of Dundee.

At the University of Toronto, this course is offered at the graduate level as biomedical communications. At Augusta University, it’s called medical illustration.

At this point, we move on to other aspects of our discussion to give you a more detailed or rounded idea of the discussed topic.

Medical Illustration Degree

As suggested by the name, medical illustration degree programs train and prepare students to pursue careers as illustrators and animators.

Using scientific medical knowledge and artistic skills, complex medical information is interpreted or translated into visual images.

As a medical illustration student, you work as an illustrator and animator.

The complex medical information you transform into visual images proves highly useful to physicians, medical specialists, and researchers.

Patients aren’t left out as they can better understand the body and nature of the illness or medical condition affecting them.

This program involves computer graphics and imagery, including creating detailed animations to clarify medical information.

Medical Illustration Program Options

To achieve your objective of pursuing a medical illustration career, you’ll need to understand what’s involved. Education is at different levels that can be divided into bachelor’s and graduate programs.

Bachelor’s students will mostly need to concentrate on biology and art.

Specific art and science courses are also covered. Art courses include life drawing, color theory, illustration, graphic design, and computer graphics.

More specifically, graphic design includes image & typography layouts and visual communication projects.

On the other hand, general drawing consists of light on form, form in space, drafting, surface textures, plant & animal studies, and still life.

Digital media is another component of art courses that deals with imaging applications, 2D animations, 3D animations, and web design. Color media consists of oil paint, landscape & still life subject matter in watercolor, colored pencil, and acrylic paint.

Science courses include vertebrate anatomy, general biology or zoology, cell biology, developmental biology, chemistry, and physiology.

Others include general chemistry, embryology, immunology, molecular biology, human anatomy & physiology, and histology.

i. Master’s Degree

A master’s degree in medical illustration spans two years. You’ll need to be careful in choosing only accredited medical illustration programs.

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is the accreditation body for such programs.

A master’s thesis based on original research with explanatory illustrations will need to be completed here. Video, digital & physical models, and animation may be included as part of the thesis.

The medical illustration master’s program covers courses like graphic design, biological illustration, medical sculpture, illustrating anatomy, and medical photography.

Others include digital imaging-2D animation, digital imaging-3D modeling & animation, and digital imaging –vector & raster illustration.

More graduate courses include web animation & interactivity, pen & ink illustration, instructional program design, and editorial & conceptual illustration.

Business practices, operating room sketching, and endoscopic (nonsurgical) illustration are more courses.

Surgical illustration, scientific communication, opthalmological illustration, web development, and independent research, advanced projects & portfolio are additional courses.

  • Science Coursework

The master’s degree in medical illustration also consists of science coursework.

Such coursework includes patient prosthetics, human anatomy & embryology, pathology, molecular & cellular visualization, neuroanatomy for the medical illustrator, and scientific writing.

ii. Doctoral Degree

Regarding medical illustration, study at the doctoral level is pursued chiefly by professionals interested in earning a degree in education or a science field.

There are lots of such programs available to choose from. You only need to research the more reputable ones.

In North America, reputable graduate programs will be those accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

These programs are accredited by the Accreditation Review Committee for the Medical Illustrator (ARC-MI) recommendation.

It’s a bit different for graduate medical illustration programs in Europe, as the Institute of Medical Illustrators (IMI) has a separate accreditation program.

IMI introduced the first diploma in medical illustration in collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University.

The IMI serves as the code of professional conduct and a continuing professional development scheme to help churn out a highly-qualified and up-to-date workforce.

Where Can I work as a Medical Illustrator?

Having satisfactorily attended and completed a medical illustration program, there are lots of places you can work as a medical illustrator.

These include research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, medical schools, academic medical centers or universities, and publishing companies.

You can also work in law firms (medicolegal), creative services agencies or businesses, web, multimedia, animation firms, hospitals or clinics, or as part of public or private healthcare services.

Advertising agencies and other non-profits are places you can also work in.

Now you have some basic idea or background information on medical illustration programs. These set you in the right direction to make informed decisions.