by Julia Kakish
Do you ever flip through your biology textbook and see a very detailed illustration of the heart or a cross section of the brain and wonder who does that for a living? Well that would be a medical illustrator.
Being a medical illustrator is not a career a lot of people know about, but can be extremely important. The reason it is such an interesting career is because besides having to be a great artist you also have to have a thorough understanding of medical terminology and human anatomy. These illustrators usually work for large medical centres working on textbooks, and closely with physicians. Having tangible pieces of artwork help patients understand their disease, or to help clarify medical information in a courtroom. There are countless situations where the work of a medical illustrator would be needed.
Students interested in the career usually start with a undergrad in science or fine art, preparing their portfolio in their final year. Becoming an professional medical illustrator usually takes a 2 year master program, which are extremely difficult to come by. There are only 4 programs in North America each accepting about 20 people each year. Within the program students learn about human anatomy, biomedical communications technology, and medical visualization.
This field of work is great for anyone who wants to combine fine art and science. The career has a lot of opportunity for change. These means it would be great for someone who wants a job that is always progressing.