CEU’s: 0.1 Business


Drew Danielle Belsky 

As a small and highly specialized field, medical illustrators must often explain their role and defend the boundaries of their own expertise in the course of their work with other experts. This process of defining and explaining the unique skills and roles of medical illustrators also takes place in professional communications, during graduate training, and at professional gatherings. This talk will present findings from my doctoral research on the professionalization of medical illustrators in North America. Drawing on archival materials, interviews, and over a year of participant observation in three North American graduate programs, I explore the steps that medical illustrators have taken to cement themselves as experts and professionals over the last century. I explore the role of story-telling not just in the production of biomedical visual materials, but in the training and professionalization of medical illustrators themselves. What accomplishments and skills are celebrated in the stories medical illustrators tell about themselves? What values are imparted to the next generation? Which stories are missing? This talk will explore how the stories medical illustrators tell shape the roles and possibilities of biomedical visualization as a profession and situate their unique skills and knowledge within the wider medical and scientific community.


[Keywords for this session: History, professionalization, story-telling, diversity] 

Speaker Bio

Drew Danielle Belsky is a doctoral candidate in Science and Technology Studies at York University in Toronto. She also holds a Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies from York and a degree in studio art from the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg (ESAD, now called HEAR). Her dissertation explores the professionalization of medical illustration and visual communications in the twentieth century, drawing on archival materials, interviews, and participant observation in three North American graduate programs. This work will contribute to broader understanding of the social, political, historical, and economic contexts in which biomedical visual communications are produced, as well as considering implications for the training of medical professionals and the experiences of patients and people with disabilities in the medical system.