As science communications have grown increasingly complex and convoluted, the world needs those who can communicate science, medicine and health concepts effectively and accurately in ways audiences can understand.
The UBC Certificate in Biomedical Visualization and Communication is an integrated skills program that blends art, science, critical thinking, co-creativity, teamwork and communication skills. The one-of-a-kind curriculum was developed by the UBC Faculty of Medicine Hackspace for Innovation and Visualization in Education (HIVE) and the Centre for Digital Media.
You’ll come away from the program with a unique set of biomedical visualization and communication skills, and prepared to create engaging and informative biomedical communications as a member of a cross-functional team.
- Program Format: 100% online instructor supported with real-time classes, workshops, labs and project team working sessions
- Duration: 11 months, part-time, totalling 180 hours of online learning
- Cost: $11,000
- Next program start date: January 2023
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The program provides you a skill set that combines scientific knowledge and critical thinking, creative approaches to design, and teamwork and communication. The unique curriculum is built in part on the lived experiences and collaborations of teams at the Centre for Digital Media and at the Hackspace for Innovation and Visualization in Education (HIVE).
You’ll complete the program ready to contribute confidently and creatively to biomedical communications projects for healthcare clients, in a variety of roles and capacities depending on your experience and education.
Who is This Program For?
While our students come from a variety of backgrounds, what we are looking for is a passion for clear communication, an appreciation for creativity and design, and a desire to help people learn and understand.
Our students include:
- graphic designers and illustrators
- healthcare professionals
- medical writers and communicators
- health educators
- researchers and research assistants
- healthcare professionals, e.g. nurse, physiotherapist, pharmacist
Some of the companies and industries that hire biomedical visualization professionals include:
- advertising and digital agencies specializing in medical and pharmaceutical clients
- animation studios
- health gaming
- mobile applications development
- patient education
- publishing (e.g. textbooks, journals, ebooks)
- biomedical technology start-ups
Read the stories of two recent graduates from the program:
- Milo Ira Applejohn, illustrator and graphic novelist
- Katie Woodford, RN, certified perioperative nurse and clinical nurse educator
Are you interested in becoming a certified medical illustrator?
The UBC Certificate in Biomedical Visualization is not an accredited medical illustrator graduate program. These types of accredited programs are full-time and take two years to complete, and typically require an undergraduate degree, a portfolio, a letter of intent, references and your transcript(s).
The UBC Certificate in Biomedical Visualization and Communication is an 11-month, part-time 100% online instructor supported program with real-time classes, virtual labs, workshops and project team working sessions. Live virtual classes are held Mondays and Wednesdays from 4pm to 6pm Pacific (Vancouver) Time in terms 1 and 2, and Wednesdays from 4pm to 6pm in term 3.
You progress through all courses with a single group of peers (a cohort). Cohort numbers can vary but will be no more than 25 students. The program is designed to promote peer learning, and offers you an opportunity to grow, learn and build relationships with a consistent group of people throughout the program.
Modular Online Learning
Courses are made up of online learning modules released weekly that combine recorded lectures, readings, videos, multimedia materials, exercises, assignments and quizzes. Foundations of Human Structure and Function includes 3D and virtual labs. Each week, you complete a new module before progressing to the next.
For the final project in term 3, you will also need to log on at various times to collaborate with your classmates, and check-in with your instructor and client.
During the week, you keep a visual and written journal about your learning, and participate in online group discussions.
Throughout the year, there will also be optional live and virtual peer critiques, tutorials, and professional and technical workshops. These will be held on Friday afternoons during terms 1, 2 and 3, and on Mondays and Wednesdays during the term breaks if needed, from 4pm to 6pm Pacific (Vancouver) Time.
Final Capstone Project
For the final capstone project in term 3, students work on a multidisciplinary team with a client to create a design proposal and prototype for a biomedical communication need.
This capstone course offers you an opportunity to apply all of your learning from the previous courses, and bring your unique talents, experience and perspective to the team. You not only come away with a portfolio-worthy example of your work, you gain hands-on industry experience in a realistic client scenario.
Portfolio Mentorship Opportunities
For students who want to create a portfolio for future job or freelance opportunities, or to prepare to enter a master’s program, we offer mentorship and guidance. You’re encouraged to communicate with your instructional team about this opportunity.
In terms 1 and 2, you should set aside a minimum of 10-15 hours per week to participate in online classes and to complete online learning requirements, exercises, quizzes and assignments.
For the capstone project in term 3, you can expect to participate in daily online working group sessions and scrums, and a weekly video check-in with your instructor and client. Projects are presented at the end of the term.
View a sample week-at-a-glance schedule for class times, optional workshops, and a weekly homework, readings and pre-class exercises schedule.
You’re provided with a version of Adobe® Creative Suite if you do not own an edition. Please visit Adobe Creative Cloud for system requirements to run Adobe applications.
Your program fees include professional art supplies, including notebooks, pigments, watercolour paints and pencils.
The program is offered over three terms, each approximately 13 weeks in length, including breaks. You take two courses in term 1 and one course in term 2. The capstone project course is offered in term 3.
The program’s vision is founded on the idea that creative teams can yield effective biomedical communications if they speak the same medical language, and have the listening, visualization and science literacy skills to engage with one another. These skills include:
Scientific knowledge and critical thinking
- Understand the basic structures and functions of the human body
- Gain foundational skills to research, source materials and disseminate medical information
- Use medical language comfortably and confidently, and increase your science literacy
- Recognize and apply the values of diversity and inclusion to biomedical communications
Teamwork and communication
- Practise communication techniques that build trust and understanding on teams, with clients and with audiences
- Advocate for diversity and inclusion to create anti-racist, anti-oppressive, accessible and human-centered communications
- Hone your skills in empathetic listening and responding
- Discover how to frame problems and gather different perspectives
- Form collaborative habits to improve communication, listening and adaptability
- Communicate rationale for solutions
- Learn how to pitch and secure a successful project
- Understand collaborative processes teams use such as Agile sprints and scrums
Creative approaches to design
- Understand the essential tools needed to communicate with diverse audiences
- Practise the visual modalities used for problem solving in biomedical communications
- Develop strategies to make information relevant and memorable
- Develop a personal and effective communication style
- Practise improvisation skills to spark creativity
- Explain human-centered design methodology
- Use prototyping, visual maps and user testing to guide a project
- Understand and apply user experience principles to design products and services
A unique aspect of the curriculum is a focus on diversity and inclusivity in biomedical communications. Throughout the program, you learn how to recognize and address the needs of diverse communities, including Indigenous, racialized and other groups that face barriers to healthcare information.
|Jan 10 – Apr 8, 2022||Foundations in Biomedical Visualization - Seeing, Listening, Communicating||More|
|Jan 10 – Apr 8, 2022||Managing Creativity||More|
|May 2 – July 29, 2022||Foundations of Human Structure and Function||More|
|Sept 12 – Dec 9, 2022||Final Group Project||More|
How am I Assessed?
Courses are graded as pass/fail. The work you hand in is assessed using rubrics, and some work might be evaluated by your peers. You’re also assessed on participation. Deliverables might include:
- lab assignments (individual and group work)
- sketchbook and discussion board reflections (individual)
- biomedical visualizations (individual).
Our instructors include specialists, educators and pioneers in biomedical visualization and communication, interactive and human-centered design, journalism, and graphic and visual arts. All hold master’s degrees or higher, and are experienced in adult education.
The total program fee is $11,000.
|Application fee (non-refundable)||Upon applying||$100|
|Deposit (non-refundable)||Following acceptance into the program
(secures your spot)
|Instalment 1||November 30, 2021||$5,000|
|Instalment 2||April 15, 2022||$5,000|
All fees are in Canadian dollars and are subject to change. Fees can be paid by Visa®, Mastercard®, cash, money order or certified cheque. The fee includes all courses, Adobe® software, professional art supplies, and access to eResources @ UBC Library.
Applications for the 2022 program are now closed. Please subscribe to our email list to receive news, updates and information about the 2023 program.
The program is open to applicants of all nationalities, regardless of residency or citizenship status in Canada. We recommend applicants who live outside of Canada live in a time zone in which they can ensure they can join live online discussions and video chats to facilitate group work.
To accommodate learners from a variety of backgrounds, admission requirements for the UBC Certificate in Biomedical Visualization and Communication are broad. You must:
- have a minimum of two years of post-secondary education
- be motivated to enrol in this program by relevant professional or personal experience or interest.
Follow These Steps to Apply
Before applying to this program, please read and understand the program handbook. The handbook contains detailed information about the program curriculum as well as important policies, terms and conditions that you should understand.
To ensure you can participate fully in the program, you need to be able to read, write and speak comfortably in English. While you don’t need to prove English language proficiency, we recommend a minimum International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 6.0, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) internet-based score of 80, or equivalent.
We would be happy to discuss your eligibility, prior experience and the relevance of the program to your goals. and encourage you to contact us.
To apply, please follow these steps:
- Write a letter of intent (maximum 500 words) that outlines your motivation and interests for pursuing the program, your current experience, what you feel you will gain from the program, what strengths you bring and how the program contributes to your future personal and/or professional goals.
- Pay the $100 non-refundable application fee. Please note the invoice number found on the fee receipt as you will need it for the application form.
- Complete the online application form. You will need to include your letter of intent, along with a copy (official or unofficial) of your diploma, degree or certificate, with this form.
After You Apply
When you submit your application and pay the non-refundable application fee, you’ll receive an email confirming these have been received. All applicants will be notified whether or not they’ve been accepted into the program within 10 business days after the application deadline.
If you're accepted into the program, you’re required to pay the non-refundable deposit within 10 business days to secure a place in the program.