Medical Photography

So my end goal is to become a Medical Photographer / Medical Illustrator.  NHS Job description

“Medical Photographer

Medical Photographers are classified by the NHS as a Medical Illustrators and are a key part of a healthcare team. Medical Photographers produce accurate and objective images that truthfully record injuries and diseases, as well as the progress of operations and medical procedures. Their work can be both technically and emotionally engaging with images used for measurement and analysis, as well as to accompany medical or scientific reports, articles or research papers. They are also used for educational purposes, and to demonstrate the effects of a range of diseases and/or medical conditions.

Medical Photographers are usually full-time employees and should have a good understanding of the medical environment, a critical appreciation of the applications of their images and a vocational calling for this kind of work.

What is the job?
Medical Photographers record the work of healthcare professionals in hospitals and clinics, as well as producing detailed images of patients’ injuries and diseases for use in treatment and education. The work requires a dedication and care that is not always necessary in other less objective – and less sensitive – areas of photography.

Most Medical Photographers work in small medical illustration departments in hospitals or medical schools. They normally use digital cameras and flash (or 35mm equivalent) to photograph patients on the wards and in the operating theatre during surgery, as well as bodies in the post mortem room. They employ a variety of specialist photo imaging techniques and equipment for more complex situations, including micro- and macrography, thermal imaging, time-lapse cinematography, endoscopy (to photograph internal organs), and photography outside the visible spectrum. On occasion, Medical Photographers may also be required to take PR or Commercial style photographs of people and facilities for more general hospital use, as well as medico-legal photographs for solicitors’ reports, industrial accidents or insurance claims.

The work is interesting and varied, and the vast majority of Medical Photographers are employees rather than self-employed. This means they enjoy the benefits of a salaried post, though rates of pay are moderate.

Typical career routes
Since the work of Medical Photographers has a direct impact on people’s lives and health, applicants often have a degree-level scientific or medical qualification, a formal photographic education (or vocational qualification), and a specialised medical photographic qualification (see Training and qualifications below).

Medical Photographers may later choose to specialise in more technical forms of photography, such as Ophthalmic, Surgical or Pathological photography.

Essential knowledge and skills
Medical Photographers must be able to select and use the best equipment and techniques for each individual case. They need a very thorough grasp of photographic principles and specific techniques used in the medical setting.

Medical Photographers need a basic knowledge of anatomy, physiology and the origins and manifestations of diseases. A genuine interest in science and medicine is as necessary as the ability to take photographs. The photographer must be able to communicate in medical terminology with doctors, consultants and teaching staff, and must also have the tact and personality to put patients at their ease. Other key skills include a close attention to detail, a meticulous approach to image and data recording and knowledge of the laws relating to confidentiality and copyright.

There are National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Photo Imaging. These give a detailed breakdown of the knowledge, awareness and skills needed to effectively carry out a particular job role. The NOS relevant to this job are listed at the end of this profile.

Training and qualifications
There are two main entry routes into Medical Photography. Both require academic qualifications in photography. The first requires an HND level course in Photography, followed by a trainee post at a teaching hospital and then after a year take a Post Experience Certificate in Medical Illustration or the BIPP (British Institute of Professional Photographers) Qualifying Examination in Medical Photography. The second option is to complete a full-time HND, MSc or BSc course in Medical Illustration, and subsequently to seek employment. Several colleges and universities offer specialist courses, details of which can be found at Institute of Medical Illustrators website (see below). Trainee medical photographers will not be considered for work within the NHS without these qualifications. The syllabus for this examination includes modules in anatomy, physiology, disease entities, as well as aspects of medical photographic practice.

Some employers may also support work-based courses, such as NVQ/SVQs.

Employers may support work-based qualifications, such as Apprenticeships and NVQ/SVQs. Photo Imaging NVQ/SVQs are currently available at levels 2, 3 and 4.”

For my professional Practice module, I have contacted a number of Medical Photographers but i am most hopeful for getting a reply from a Jerry Nayler who is in charge of Education and training at the Institute of Medical Photographers.


About jenjenmarie

Creating images through photography!
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