Moulage: Medical Makeup

Medical training is quite a broad field complete with many different ways to instructing up-and-coming doctors and nurses. To name a few, you have written books describing anatomy and procedures, illustrations (which would include diagrams and photos) to give familiarization, manikins that allow for actual hands-on practice without the need for an actual patient present, and of course apprenticing under professional doctors. All of these methods combine to help give a well-rounded education to future doctors.

But there is another method that is useful in the training of one of the most important skills any MD could have: diagnosis. Doctors need to be able to quickly identify symptoms and render a correct diagnosis, and a great way for them to practice that is through moulage.

Moulage is the applying of makeup and props (see what it looks like here: to an actor to simulate injuries and conditions. The actor can complain of varying symptoms and the moulage allows for other indicators to be present as well, such as yellowing of the skin, contusions and others. These actors will be presented to medical students who then attempt a diagnosis based on what they see and what the patient tells them. It is actually invaluable practice.

While moulage isn’t used today as much as it once was, it still is a very valuable training tool in medicine. It would be great to see a revival of this art (as getting the makeup right really does take a bit of artistic flair) in the medical training scene again. While there are further advancements being made all the time (such as virtual patients for doctors to practice on), the closer to can be to dealing with a live person in front of you, the better.