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BCA News: Fall 2014

BCA to Update Total Body Mapping Certification Program

The BioCommunications Association is currently in the process of updating its Total Body Mapping Certification Program, which has three parts: a written exam, a demonstration of competency and a practical exam  (an image evaluation portion.) The updates will include revising the written exam and writing a study guide that better reflects what is involved in total body mapping, said Keith Bullis, Chair of the Certification Committee. The BCA hopes to have the updated program in place by January 2015.

"Total body mapping is a very specific series of photographs used by dermatologists in order to follow the growth of dysplastic nevus on a patient's skin, " said Bullis, Media Services Manager for the Eastman Institute for Oral Health in Rochester, New York. "It is a way to document the patient from head to toe  over  time and have sets of images that can be compared to see what changes have occurred."

The updates to the written exam will include developing a wider number of questions to intersperse when someone takes the test more than once so that the test is different each time, he said. They also want to be able to provide a different test when two people are taking the test at the same location.

The study guide is being written by Gale Spring, an Adjunct Associate Professor of Scientific Photography in the School of Applied Sciences at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. There is currently no resource available about how to do total body mapping, said Bullis, and the BCA website only includes resources on how to study for the photography portion of the exam.

BCA's Total Body Mapping Certification serves as a "stamp of approval" for those who are certified in the program, said Bullis. "It sets the bar that the quality has to be at a certain level to produce effective photographs—they should be at the same magnification, and be comparable and repeatable," he said. "The certification process also teaches how to treat patients with respect, and how to work quickly and consistently. It's about creating quality usable photographs."

In addition to the written exam, students must undergo a demonstration of competency exam in which they demonstrate, using a model patient, how to work with the  patient, set up the studio and lighting, and how to take the photographs. "This portion was always done last,'" said Bullis. "Because we have only a few committee members (evaluators) spread across the world, this portion was historically done at the annual meeting. First, I am changing the order so that the demonstration will be done before the actual set of final images is completed in order to make sure the candidate understands how to take the photos before actually taking them! I am experimenting with using Skype to do this portion of the exam. I have done one and it went very well. This will expand the number of participants able to do the certification program."

The practical exam-image portion of the certification requires the student to submit a complete set of patient photographs for evaluation by the certification committee. They either pass or fail. If they fail, they are told which areas to work on and are allowed to submit new images.

The updates won't affect those currently in the program unless they haven't taken the written exam, said Bullis. Eight people have been certified since 2009, four since June 2013. It is a self-directed program, so it is up to those in the program to decide the pace at which they complete the certification. Two of those certified this year started in July 2013 and finished in September 2013. Others have taken up to 2.5 years. "Most of the people seeking the certification are already doing some kind of patient related photography," he said. "They have a specific need for it, for example, they work for a plastic surgeon, or they want to add the certification to their resume to improve their job prospects."

Eventually the certification committee would like to expand into other areas of certification. If you have any ideas about an area of competency in the medical photography field that could have a certification program set up for it, please contact Keith Bullis.


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Fall 2014 Issue

2014 Louis Schmidt Laureate Paul Crompton

BioImages Awards

Dr. Lawrence Stack receives EFFE grant

BCA Members Awarded for Service

Total Body Mapping Certification Update

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