Calling all Medical Illustrators – now is the time

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  • 19th June 2020

As the country slowly comes to terms with the Covid-19 pandemic, we can see life is going to be different. People talk about the “new normal”, and how some things may never go back to how they were – what if that includes medical illustration?

At the outset of the pandemic, entire hospitals were reconfigured to cope with demands, with many of our services and staff being called upon to support the almost daily changes. Advanced technology systems and remote working were introduced at break-neck speed, which would have been nigh on impossible pre-Covid. For some, the donning and doffing of PPE has become the norm, with clinical activity continuing, albeit it reduced; for others, the focus has been on design and video production for both staff and patient communication and education. Some staff have been redeployed outside of medical illustration, and rather worryingly, some departments have been closed throughout.

As hospitals continue to adapt to the changing needs of the pandemic, it is imperative that we do too. This will be challenging, amidst the anticipated significant economic recession that will follow. We need to take the lead in the changes for our profession, not to survive, but to thrive as a core part of the wider healthcare team.

Professional registration with the AHCS is essential to this. Our nursing, medical and AHP colleagues, as well as many other HCS colleagues are registered. The work and effort to become a qualified medical illustration practitioner should also be recognised, and registration embodies that.

IMI has supported the registration of our profession for years, principally to protect patients, but also to raise our profile and to ensure that medical illustrators are recognised and respected. Registration is inbuilt as part of our qualification structure and indeed our Institute’s professional membership route. We have written about it in our journal and newsletter and on our social media platforms; we paid your registration fees in the first year and negotiated reduced rates thereafter (your registration fee is the lowest in the UK); we embed it in conference material, presentations, publications, issued press releases; we wrote to every employing Trust and Health Board in the UK; we challenge every inappropriate or incorrectly banded job advertisement; and we will continue to maintain the drive towards statutory (or equivalent) registration.

But we need those working in the profession to play their part, as the sad fact is the number of registrants has dropped for the last two years running. We need you to join the register. We need you to show your commitment in maintaining competency and high standards of conduct, to provide that assurance to your employer, your patients and the general public, and to help strengthen the profession as a whole.

This is a critical time for the NHS and our profession. Registration helps us be recognised and be counted:

Now is the time.