Rochester Institute of Technology

Academic Program Overviews

Student Skills & Capabilities, Salary Data, Career Information 

Medical Illustration BFA

Program Overview

By combining drawing and science, the Medical Illustration major teaches students to translate anatomical and surgical sketches into instructional illustrations to visually support the allied health and medical educational fields. The major spans the full range of artistic media to produce a wide variety of images. Through our collaboration with area hospitals, students are able to obtain first-hand experience in real-life medical situations, in addition to their on-campus access to a state-of-the-art human anatomy laboratory. Computers and other digital technology are integrated into the studio environment to facilitate the creation of sophisticated images along with well-designed, interactive educational media displays. This major is one of a very few undergraduate medical illustration majors offered in the country that prepare students to join the medical team as an allied health professional.
 
RIT’s graduate program in Medical Illustration is one of only five such programs in North America and the only program in the Northeastern U.S. The two-year program combines training in human anatomy (with complete cadaver dissection), histology (the cellular structure of organs), and pathophysiology (the study of disease) with extensive training in 2D and 3D digital graphics, interactive media, and animation. Illustration projects are designed for use in print, projection, broadcast media, and distribution via the web and mobile devices. The program emphasizes visual problem solving, determining the best approach to communicate a difficult concept. Students also gain real world experience collaborating with medical researchers and observing live surgery in the operating room. The program culminates with the production of a thesis project, which requires extensive background research and an original body of artwork on a complex medical topic.

Degrees Awarded

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts; Master of Fine Arts

Enrollment

  • Approximately 30 undergraduate students enrolled; approximately 5 masters students enrolled.

Cooperative Education & Experiential Education Component

  • Optional co-op or internship. Students are available summer term.

Salary Information

Co-op:     Insufficient Data
BFA:        Insufficient Data

Student Skills & Capabilities

  • Art and science are equally important elements of medical illustration, a specialized form of artistry that combines drawing with biomedical training.
  • Students may take advantage of courses throughout the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, studying photography, multimedia presentations, drawing and medical sciences.
  • Illustration projects are designed for use in print, broadcast media, and distribution via the web and mobile devices.
  • The opportunity to observe doctors at work helps student to comprehend, simplify, organize and communicate medical procedures.
  • Medical illustration students gain an understanding of composition, design, and layout as well as extensive experience in technical and mechanical lettering.
  • By senior year, students are able to combine original images with typography to develop multi-screen slide shows with script, music and titles and will have prepared a portfolio for prospective clients.
  • Illustrator, Photoshop, ActionScript, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Maya, 3ds Max, Flash

Equipment & Facilities

Several art production studios and digital labs. The computer lab facilities offer the latest equipment, software and support devices. Juniors and Seniors have access to individual studio spaces.

Comprehensive education includes viewing operating room procedures, the study of gross anatomy at the nearby University of Rochester School of Medicine and the dissection of a cadaver.
 
Lab sessions scheduled in operating room facilities (jointly sponsored by RIT and the University of Rochester).

Nature of Work

Medical illustrators create illustrations for use in print, projection, broadcast media, and distribution via the web and mobile devices.

Training / Qualifications

Most artists and designers often need at least a bachelor of science degree and a strong portfolio of work.

Job Outlook

Currently, the employment outlook for medical illustrators is good due to the highly specialized nature of our work and the relatively limited number of medical illustrators graduating each year. The profession remains very viable due to growth in medical research that continually reveals new treatments and technologies that require medical illustrations and animations to explain them.
 
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, demand for multimedia artists and animators will increase as consumers continue to demand more realistic video games, movie and television special effects, and 3D animated movies. Additional job openings will arise from an increasing need for computer graphics in the growing number of mobile technologies. The demand for animators is also increasing in alternative areas such as scientific research and design services.”
 
Medical illustrators are also employed as research faculty within healthcare institutions where their unique aptitude is valuable in visualizing, interpreting and summarizing data as well as creating effective, testable patient education tools. Lastly, emerging technologies in informational media delivery systems such as mobile devices (iPads and cell phones), health gaming, and digital medical imaging systems require an expanding array of specially designed digital images and thus, the need for newer, more cutting-edge medical illustrations and animations to populate these devices. Source: Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI)

Job Titles

Multimedia Artist, Medical Illustrator, Exhibitor, Freelance Medical Illustrator, 2D Medical Animator, 3D Computer Modeler/Animator, Medical Interactive/Interface Designer, Medical Web Designer, Medical Legal Illustrator/Litigation Support Specialist, Medical Book/Texts Illustrator, Information Graphics Illustrator, Medical Editorial Illustrator, Medical Model Designer, Prosthesis Designer/Anaplastologist, Forensics Illustrator, Ophthalmologic Illustrator, Medical Illustration Educator.

Employment

Graduates find work with hospitals, medical schools, research centers, museums, medical publishers, advertising agencies, web design firms, animation studios, law firms, and a variety of other creative agencies.
 
Since the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is considered the terminal degree in the arts, graduates may also find employment in academia, teaching in computer graphics or scientific illustration programs.

Significant Points

  • This major is one of a very few undergraduate medical illustration majors offered in the country that prepare students to join the medical team as an allied health professional.
  • RIT’s graduate program in Medical Illustration is one of only five such programs in North America and the only program in the Northeastern U.S.

Selected Employer Hiring Partners

Advanced Practice Strategies, Anatomical Justice, Bryan Christie Design, Cell Press, Current Medicine Group/Springer Health-care Communications, Custom Learning Designs, Dartmouth Publishing, Dept. of Neurobiology and Anatomy-University of Rochester Medical Center, Dept. of Imaging Sciences-University of Rochester Medical Center, Dragonfly Media Group, Electronic Publishing Services, Emmi Solutions, Jespersen & Associates, Legal Art Works, National Capital Area Medical Simulation Lab, National Museum of Natural History-Smithsonian Institution, New England Journal of Medicine, The New York Botanical Garden, Precision Graphics, Inc., Science Magazine, Second Avenue, Smithsonian Institute, Springer Healthcare Communications, The Presentation Group, Visible Body/Argosy Medical Publishing.

Contact Us

We appreciate your interest in your career and we will make every effort to help you succeed. Feel free to contact James Bondi, the career services coordinator who works with the Medical Illustration program. You can access information about services through our web site at www.rit.edu/careerservices.
 
James T. Bondi, Associate Director, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Rochester Institute of Technology . Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education
Bausch & Lomb Center
57 Lomb Memorial Drive . Rochester NY  14623-5603
585.475.2301