Development of a model medical illustration curriculum from a competency-based perspective



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The field of medical illustration is experiencing fundamental changes which demand that new knowledge bases be incorporated into existing academic curricula. Students admitted into medical illustration programs come with diverse backgrounds, skills, knowledge, and experiences. This necessitates a comprehensive list of competencies for medical illustrators. However, no such list currently exists. The purpose of this study was to (1) identify all of the tasks (competencies) required of a professional medical illustrator; (2) analyze the necessary level of achievement assigned to each competency by practicing, professional medical illustrators; and (3) organize competencies into curricular themes for the development of a competency-based academic curriculum. A Medical Illustration Competency-Based Process Model (MICBPM) was developed as a methodological tool to establish a competency-based curriculum and was followed to address the research objectives. A panel of experts identified the competencies; a survey was designed consisting of 89 competencies. The survey was sent to 678 medical illustrators from the Association of Medical Illustrators' (AMI) 2002-2003 membership database who had addresses in the United States. Respondents were asked to rate these competencies on their perceived level of achievement necessary. One hundred-forty-two surveys were returned representing a 20.9% response rate. Frequency distributions for demographic characteristics were calculated. ANOVAs were used to investigate differences among average scores for competencies within demographic groups. Demographic characteristics, such as gender, age, time in the field, school affiliation and levels of freelance were analyzed. Factor Analysis determined 21 dimensions of highly correlated competencies. Findings indicated that demographic characteristics did not generally influence the perceived level of achievement needed for medical illustration competencies. Factors were organized into curricular themes; three broad subject headings. This study has provided a structure for a list of important competencies, provided by medical illustrators themselves. Educational administrators will have information with which to restructure their curricula. Governing bodies for medical illustration program accreditation can use the competencies developed in this study.