"From our experience, medical illustrators grow out of students who start their college years interested in both life sciences and art"


02.22.2016 - by  Jim Moore

Welcome to Educational Resources’ new website and blog, which, of course, is where you are now. A lot has changed in our little building over the past 36 months. We weren’t among the chosen ones who moved out to the beautiful new veterinary teaching hospital in March, 2015, but have continued to work in the same location. In the next few blog posts, we’ll share with you some of our most recent projects, our newest technological additions, and a few of our plans for the future.


The purpose of this blog post is to introduce you to our Certificate in Comparative Medical Illustration Program. To do so, you’ll first need to understand a bit about medical illustrators and their education. We’ll take care of this by answering a few questions that tend to arise whenever we talk with someone about our program.


Who becomes a medical illustrator?


From our experience, medical illustrators grow out of students who start their college years interested in both life sciences and art. Very often, they’re the students who sketch the mitochondrion when learning about the Kreb’s cycle or create a series of simple illustrations when planning for the next laboratory assignment in chemistry. At some point, they learn about a career in which they could combine their skills and interests, and set their sights on becoming a medical illustrator.


Where are they trained?


Currently, there are only four accredited two-year graduate programs in medical illustration in North America. We are fortunate that one of these programs, the Medical Illustration Program at Augusta University, is only 90 miles away, and that two of our staff members, Kip Carter and Brad Gilleland, are graduates of that program. The other accredited programs are at Johns Hopkins, University of Illinois – Chicago, and University of Toronto. Each program is relatively small, most accepting fewer than 10 students per year.


What do they learn?


Medical illustrators start their programs studying human anatomy side-by-side with medical students. They also have courses on cell physiology and comparative pathobiology, as well as learning how to fully develop their skills in illustration, graphic design, 2D animation, 3D modeling and animation, surgical illustration and designing instructional materials and programs. To complete their degree, each student must complete a thesis project that typically involves creating materials for a university faculty member or outreach program.


How many have participated in the certificate program?


To date, we have had five graduate medical illustrators participate in our one-year certificate program. Tasha Obrin and Will McAbee were the first graduate assistants in the program, having joined us from the program in Augusta; Tasha now works as a medical animator at Harvard Medical School and Will has a freelance company in the Boston area. Ellen Davis, Katie Yost and Russell Weekes currently are in the program. Ellen and Russell are graduates of the program in Augusta, and Katie joined us from the program in Chicago.