A blog about scientific and medical visualization and all that’s involved.

Being a Grad Student…

Posted by Janet on September 16, 2008

You may be wondering what it’s like to be a medical illustrator. I can’t answer that because 1. all medical illustrators are different, and 2. I have not yet worked as a medical illustrator. However, as a grad student in a medical illustration program, I have to say that it’s not that different from being any grad student. The elements are the same–classes and exams, research, and lots of readings. The main difference is that you are expected to be good in BOTH art and science. You’ll never hear “will you be grading on the quality of the drawings?” like you’ll hear in some bio and math classes, when you have to draw under the microscope or plot functions. You also won’t hear things like “I’m good at art but I’m not smart enough to handle science classes” (I heard that one a lot when I was in high school and undergrad) because everyone thinks you’re smart and if you don’t have the mentality to handle it, maybe you shouldn’t be here.

Because we’re expected to be good at a broader spectrum of subjects, I tend to think that we have to work harder to survive grad school. Whereas most grad students talk 9 credit hours and call it a full load, we easily take up to 16 hours. Multitasking becomes really important when we are juggling various tasks such as observing surgery in the OR, designing magazine covers, making storyboards, and studying for a physiology exam.

I needed to take a week off from blogging and just let my mind cool off. Why are we here? Are all grad students the same? This question may be best answered by Jorge Cham, author of PHD comics–a comic about grad students which I read religiously. I do think that deep down, all grad students are connected by the endless tunnel of works, the “why am I here? am I doing the right thing?” mid-grad-life crisis, and of course, the question of “will I ever graduate?”


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