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A Week In The Life of a Medical Photographer

What is a Medical Photographer?

When I tell people I’m a medical photographer I quite often get the same response, usually something along the lines of either ‘what’s one of those’ or ‘what x-rays and things?’ or even just a general confused expression. Many people don’t know we exist unless they work in healthcare or have actually been photographed in a hospital before. The role is varied, sometimes not for the squeamish and, at least I believe, very interesting.

Having worked as a Medical Photographer for over 10 years both in the NHS and for private pharmaceutical companies I’ve photographed a wide range of interesting subjects ranging from post mortems to intricate heart surgery, clinical trial subjects and also a few local celebrities. Generally no two days are ever the same.

At Illingworth Research I work as one of their Senior Medical Photographers and carry out a wide range of tasks including the set-up of photography equipment for new clinical trials, the submission of proposals to new clients, medical photography in our studio and at external sites, image monitoring or analysis, training of nurses and doctors in clinical trial photography, photography for company websites or promotional material etc. etc. etc! I also enjoy graphic design too and often have the opportunity to produce brochures, leaflets and posters relating to patient recruitment in clinical trials, marketing medical products or companies.

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Today’s goal was to finalize a mole mapping presentation due for Wednesday; the majority could be written from scratch but as the client was supplying the camera system, it’s optimum settings would need to be investigated and documented, then pictures of the system in use –along with example images- would need to be taken for the presentation.

The morning was taken up photographing a medico-legal case in the studio at head office; this always requires extra attention to detail, both during the photography and subsequently when completing the paperwork, if all is not correct and perfectly clear the court will want to know why. The afternoon was taken-up drafting the imaging section of a quote to setup and monitor a pan European study with approximately 15 sites, followed by a last read-through of tomorrow’s presentation.
A final check of all the equipment was made at head office prior to setting off for the large practice in Birmingham. The mole mapping presentation and laminated user guides, to a group of ten nurses, was well received and the practical hands on demonstration which followed identified those who had (or had not) understood the processes involved. With positive feedback from all and a safe trip home, the day was judged a success all-round.
Reviewed images and provided feedback to three sites in Germany which are taking images as part of a clinical trial managed by Illingworth Research. The feedback identifies which images have been taken in accordance with the protocol and procedures, whilst ensuring consistency across sites as the images will be analysed centrally at the end of the study. The functionality options of the image analysis software package was then explored, in relation to drawing objective measurements from these 2D images and examples sent to the sponsor for discussion.
Once a month Friday mornings are spent at a plastic surgery clinic in Manchester photographing the standardized before and after images from a range of reconstructive procedures. Having caught up with paperwork and emails in the afternoon, free time was spent in the studio capturing more creative images for the Illingworth Research and ResearchNurses.co websites. I really enjoy what I do, I like the fact that the job can be varied and challenging and I particularly like meeting and chatting with people, whether they are new clients or patients. Working for Illingworth Research enables me to carry out a much wider range of work with greater responsibility than was possible within the NHS and it’s great to be part of such a close-knit team.