Say I wanted to become a medical illustrator...
August 30, 2009 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Say I wanted to attend graduate school for a degree in Medical Illustration... what should I start doing now, as a freshman in undergrad, to insure that happens?

I'm interested in the Johns Hopkins program, which only accepts 4-6 students a year.

I know I have four years to think about this, but I firmly believe that I need to plan early for graduate school, regardless of what path I take.

I've read over the admission requirements, but I want to know what really makes an applicant stand out. Does volunteer work matter? How about research? Internships at a graphic design company? Do they care if your graphic design classes were over the summer at the local community college?

I won't be taking drawing classes until next semester, and I'll be starting graphic design next year or over the summer. Will I be putting myself at a disadvantage to those who took them all 4 years? It isn't too late to switch classes, but I'm wary of dropping the pre-med requirements because if I change my mind I'm automatically a year behind.

Note: I'll take any advice, it doesn't have to be geared toward JH's program.
posted by biochemist to Education (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
That sounds like a very specialized program. Unless someone in that department writes here, your best shot at learning about this program is to contact the department directly.

You should send out emails to the current graduate students which every prospective graduate student should do I think. If you can meet face to face, that's even better. Some people actually prefer to meet face to face instead of writing a long email. Ask them about their own undergraduate course path. Which courses they took, did they work as a research assistant when they were an undergraduate student? Things like this.

Having more contacts never hurt :) Good luck!
posted by caelumluna at 8:35 AM on August 30, 2009

Draw! draw, draw, draw, and keep drawing. Draw anything you see and everything you see. And then do it again.

In "Chuck Amuck" Chuck Jones said that the best art teacher he ever studied under began his first class by saying, "Every one of you has a hundred thousand bad drawings inside of you. The sooner you get them out, the better."
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:43 AM on August 30, 2009

If you're really, really sure that you want to do the Hopkins program, I would actually suggest transferring to Hopkins for sophomore year onwards if you can.


- Like many schools, Hopkins tends to favor its undergrads for its grad programs, particularly in medicine and related fields.

- If you do decide to be pre-med, not a bad place to be.

- Hopkins has decent studio art classes. More importantly, you can cross-register at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

- You can, with some finagling, even take some classes at the medical school itself as an undergraduate. If become a public health major, most of your senior year will be spent at the School of Public Health.

MeMail me if you want more information about Hopkins in general.
posted by charmcityblues at 9:07 AM on August 30, 2009

Best answer: I know somebody who works and teaches in that department. Email me through my profile (not my MefiMail), and I will see if I can get this question answered from someone in the department.
posted by OmieWise at 9:26 AM on August 30, 2009

I'm a physician and occasionally dabble in some clinical research (alright, to be honest, I mostly ride the coattails of my residents doing research - as it should be done) and I would almost drop dead if someone offered to do some illustrations for some of my papers or posters. I would suggest contacting the medicine, surgery, or pathology departments at JHU and offer to do this. This will buy you two very important things: experience (portfolio, I suppose) which is a good thing, but also contacts (and likely very well-respected, well-published, well-known contacts) who could probably write very nice letters of recommendation.
[Of course, this is my totally uneducated, yet solicited, opinion.]
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:37 AM on August 30, 2009

ensure, not insure
posted by blue_beetle at 1:47 PM on August 30, 2009

Best answer: I had a friend who thought about doing it. She had sketchbooks full of bone shadings, all sorts of anatomy drawings and cutaways, etc.. she ended up doing something different, but really hauled on it for a while. I know she got most of her practice working through the anthropology dept (specifically on archeology stuff) since they often needed very, very accurate drawings of bones highlighting specific features on demand. Might be a good place to get some work on that aspect of it.
posted by devilsbrigade at 6:46 PM on August 30, 2009

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