Medical Illustration and Medical Education

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  • LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

    Medical Illustration and Medical Education

    I read Browns viewpoint with great interest, and particu-

    larly two statements: first, that this profession has

    diversified so much over the last decade, that we are in

    the danger of becoming jacks of all trades and masters of

    none; secondly, that it is too easy and tempting to take

    on more and more areas of work to the detriment of core

    skills.1 On the other hand, Morton has argued that the

    strength of medical illustration departments is the fact that

    they undertake such a wide variety of activities.2

    No doubt in medical illustration we are in a state of

    confusion because we have failed to define clearly and

    explain our role in medicine to the public at large and more

    particularly to clients, employers and other users of our

    services. For half a century our profession has been

    evolving but we still have not actively participated in the

    effective utilization of our products. We need to broaden

    our thinking and demonstrate the true value of our

    profession to medicine, rather than just produce images

    with the wow!-factor to surprise and delight clients. We

    do not make a direct contribution towards the diagnostic

    and/or therapeutic aspects of patient care, but we do play

    an important role in the effective utilization of multimedia

    Journal of Audiovisual Media in Medicine, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 161162

    ISSN 0140-511X printed/ISSN 1465-3494 online/03/040161-02 # 2003 Institute of Medical Illustrators

    DOI: 10.1080/01405110310001636729

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  • to support medical education at all levels, and we do need

    to develop our skills to understand better the needs,

    processes and mechanisms of medical education. We have

    concentrated on the production of illustrative materials for

    far too long and have neglected to participate in the use of

    such materials.

    In the area of education, medical illustration has

    immense scope which medical illustrators have not

    exploited.3 Engel has argued that a central department

    would be concerned with educational aspects that are

    becoming more diverse and complex from year to year ...

    Medical illustration will thus be faced with a galaxy of new

    tasksif it is prepared to accept the challenge.4 Likewise

    Hansell has suggested that we have seen visual aids give

    way to audiovisual aids only to be successively ousted

    by educational technology and communication in

    medical and biological education.5 The traditional teach-

    ing of clinical medicine to medical students is already

    being replaced by interactive multimedia and web-based

    courseware.6 We are getting more involved in medical

    education as communications and multimedia specialists

    and as computer-based systems of all kinds are applied to

    education and documentation in medicine and related

    fields, the medical communications specialist has to be the

    master of multiple media.7 The current and potential role

    of medical illustration in medical education has been

    described by Ansary and El Nahas,8 while Morton et al.

    have highlighted the changing role of the medical

    illustrator.9

    So I would plead that we should not concentrate on the

    wow!-factor, but on participating actively as multimedia

    experts in teams with our medical colleagues. Both Engel

    and Williams have warned of the need to change our

    emphasis from activity in its own right to the purpose it

    should serve.10,11 Since our services are not of diagnostic

    or therapeutic nature, we should work closely in partner-

    ship with educators in medical education.

    AFZAL ANSARY

    References

    1. Brown S. Whither Medical Illustration? J Audiov Media Med2003; 26(2): 679.

    2. Morton R. Communication in medical education: The futurefor specialist services. J Biocommun 1995; 22(3): 811.

    3. Cattell W. Medical illustration in the new health serviceaconsumers eye view. Med Biol Illustr 1971; 24: 49.

    4. Engel CE. Medical illustration in the new health service,broadening the base. Med Biol Illustr 1974; 24: 1746.

    5. Hansell P. Editorial. From the first editor (19501958). MedBiol Illustr 1975; 25: 6.

    6. Duguid KP. The team approach to the design of computer-assisted learning packages in medicine. J Audiov Media Med1995; 18(2): 538.

    7. Morton R. Editorial. J Audiov Media Med 1997; 20(3):1001.

    8. Ansary A, El Nahas AM. Medical Illustration in the UK: itscurrent and potential role in medical education. J AudiovMedia Med 2000; 23(2): 6972.

    9. Morton et al. The changing role of the medical illustrator.J Audiov Media Med 2000; 23(2): 658.

    10. Engel CE. Editorial. From the second editor (19591964).Med Biol Illustr 1975; 25: 78.

    11. Williams AR. Viewpoint, a forward look. J Audiov MediaMed 1980; 3: 278.

    162 Letters to the Editor

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