Back To The Drawing Board

Posted by in Healthcare

Have you ever sat in the doctor’s exam room and looked at those drawings on the walls? You know, the ones that show what the intestines look like or how your heart works? Did you ever wonder about where they came from? They come from the field of Medical Illustration. A medical illustrator is a professional artist who works strictly in the medical field. They draw the illustrations in medical books, journals, magazines and educational films. Sometimes they are used to make models and create artificial body parts, like ears and noses, for patients that are deformed or are going to have reconstructive surgery.

If you’re interested in a career in this medical field, you should be proficient in a number of mediums. Your skills should range from advanced drawing, painting and sculpture techniques to concepts and techniques in the production of commercial and graphic art. You should also have up-to-date computer graphic skills in still and motion media. Some medical illustrious specialize in different fields such as forensic reconstruction or the making of prostheses. You should take college prep in high school that is strong in art and science. In college you should major in either art and minor in science or major in science and minor in art. Undergraduate science classes are the same as required for the medical school. You will need a master’s degree from a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs.

A lot of medical illustrators choose to enhance their careers by becoming board certified. If you chose to do this, you will require a graduate degree in medial illustration, a portfolio review and completion of a national examination This is a program endorsed by the Association of Medical Illustrators. When you are board certified, it shows that you have passed examinations dealing with business practices, ethics, biomedical science and drawing skills. This certificate isn’t a requirement but it does show your current competency in your chosen profession .

You should enjoy working alone and in teams during problem solving sessions and be able to work closely with clients. You should be able to not only understand the project you’re undertaking but be able to meet the client’s unspoken needs as well. Other illustrators become part of a medical research team, some become content experts or computer modeling, animation and interactive design. It also helps if you have an eye for detail, enjoy and have a natural ability in both art and science. Having a strong foundation in biological and medical science is also necessary to be able to visualize and then draw what you are seeing

Medical illustrators work in a variety of places, some which are surprising. Here’s a list of some of the places you can find jobs:

-University, medical center, hospital clinic, or health care institution
-Publishing company
-Corporation, small business
-Web, multimedia, or animation firm
-Veterinary school

The employment outlook for medical illustrators is good due to the specialized nature of the work and the limited number of medical illustrious graduating each year. Patients growing demand to better understand what is going on with their bodies and medical options has increased the demand for medical illustration to explain them to the public. Is this a career that appeals to you? The field is wide open and the choice is yours.

by Linda Lee Ruzicka

Linda Lee Ruzicka lives in the mountains of Western PA , happily married and with her 8 cats and three dogs. She has been published in Twilight Times, Dark Krypt, Fables, Writing Village, June Cotner anthology, The Grit, Reminisce , the book, Haunted Encounters: Friends and Family. She also does freelances work for Nexxt, for She also has other blogs at


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