Kathy receives prestigious medical award in USA

Rachel McNabb


Rachel McNabb

A Ballymena woman has been named this year's Louis Schmidt Laureate for her outstanding contribution to the progress of medical illustration (biocommunications).

Kathy McFall, whose career in medical photography, video and teaching spans some 25 years, recently travelled to Georgia in America to receive the prestigious accolade.

Kathy, who serves as Head of Medical Illustration Services at the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, was selected for the award by the The Louis Schmidt Committee of the BioCommunications Association (BCA).

The Association is an international professional association of photographers, designers, illustrators, and videographers working in visual communications for the life sciences.

The Louis Schmidt Award is the highest given in the BCA and the selection of the recipient each year is made by a committee composed of the nine most recent winners.

Symbols of the award include an engraved BCA key with a diamond inset personalized with the Laureate’s name. A framed certificate is also presented to the newly elected Laureate and one year custodianship of the BCA gold-headed cane, a traditional symbol in medicine of high achievement and honor.

Medical Illustration is a specialist profession supporting other healthcare professions within a medical environment. The area of expertise is made up of professionals called Healthcare Scientists who specialise in photography, graphic design, medical art or videography. Using their skills they produce resource materials such as photography and other graphic images for use in patient care, education and teaching.

Working as part of the healthcare team, medical illustrators spend their time working with doctors, nurses, scientists and other professionals involved in delivering patient care.

On being selected as this year’ s Louis Schmidt Laureate Kathy, said: “I am honoured to receive such an award as I look at the names of those that have received it before me, and there is so many that inspired me in my early career. I never thought I would be one of them.”

Kathy first studied for a BSc in Photographic and Electronic Imaging Sciences at the Polytechnic of Central London, then went on to do a Masters degree in Medical Illustration (photography and video) at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

She left Ballymena at the age of 16, when her parents moved with work to the South of England, however, she still returns a few times a year.

Kathy said: “I have lived in London and Cardiff, but I settled in Scotland in the mid 1990s.

“I currently lead up the team in NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, one of the largest health authorities in the UK.

“I visit Ballymena a few times a year as my mum, brothers, extended family and many friends still live there. Sadly my father passed away in 2012, however, I know he would have been immensely proud of this award - of course, as is my mum. I still call it home; I think of Glasgow as just a bigger version of Ballymena!”

Kathy is married to Dr Bill Manley, an eygptologist, and they have a son Harry aged 13.

She also lectures on behalf of the Medical Humanities Unit at the University of Glasgow, and has tutored students undertaking the BSc in Medical Illustration at Glasgow Caledonian University and is the Chairman of the Institute of Medical Illustrators and a Fellow of the Institute of Medical Illustrators.

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