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BCA News: Summer 2019

Member Profile: Joanne Deithorn

Joanne has been taking photos since she was 5 years old. Her high school biology teacher encouraged her to research how photography and science might be a career after winning the 1st place Eastman Kodak award for scientific photography during a national science fair. This research opened her eyes to the field of Biomedical Photography.

Joanne Deithorn as student intern

Joanne Deithorn is the chief of Medical Media Production Service at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center. She is an Alumnus of Rochester Institute of Technology (1989) with a bachelors degree in Biomedical Communications. She started her professional career with Department of Veteran Affairs in 1986 as an un-paid intern in Philadelphia, PA. She continued working at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center through 1993 and held positions in Medical Photography and AV Production. During this time she played an active role in the design of a 300 seat multimedia auditorium and the renovation of Medical Media Production Service. For two years she chaired the local Southeastern Chapter of the Biomedical Photography Association (1991-1992).

One of Joanne's most gratifying biomedical photography projects was working with Frederick S. Kaplan, MD at the University of Pennsylvania with his work on Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), a rare and disabling disorder in which the body forms a second skeleton of heterotopic bone. In 1996 her photographs were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


Clinical appearance and skeleton of a man with Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva. Photo by Joanne Deithorn.

In 1993, Joanne was hired as the Assistant Chief of Medical Media at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center. This was a brand new VA Medical Center which included opening the Medical Media Department and the design and automation of multiple conference rooms. Medical Media is soon to become a section within the new Communications Service at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center which will now include Public Affairs, Marketing and Outreach.

Joanne is recognized for being the first to bring electronic signage design and hospital-wide guest wireless Internet into a VA Medical Center. She graduated from VA's Leadership program and has mentored and coached 10 VA employees. She chaired the Department of Veterans Affairs Media Development Network for two years and is presently on the council as and AD HOC member.

If you are looking for a job in the Federal Government, Joanne suggests you go to USAJobs.gov and use the following when searching: Visual Information Specialist, AV Production Specialist, Medical Photographer, Medical Illustrator, Communications Specialist, and Public Affairs Specialist. If you are still in school make sure to look for "pathway" student or internship positions in your search. She encourages prospective bio communicators to be diverse with knowledge of photography, graphic design, AV production, public relations, marketing and outreach.


Queen Angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris) This photo was taken at Looe Key with a Nikon 7100 using an underwater housing at a depth of around 35 feet.

Joanne has always had the passion to be like Jacques Cousteau and recently started to take underwater photographs during her vacations in the Keys where she is proud of her photo of a Queen Angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris).

Joanne has been awarded with several honours including the VA Silent Hero Award, Volunteerism Award (Knights of Columbus), has been nominated for Federal Employee of the Year and she received a Presidential Letter from the President of the United States.

Memorial Day 2019 South Florida National Cemetery

Joanne finds her daily inspiration and motivation through the Veterans and heroes who she has dedicated her service to for over 32 years. Joanne's commitment to caring for people ranges from Veteran's to the homeless.

In Joanne's spare time she volunteers as a photographer for her church. Joanne and her husband John Springer have been happily married since 1997 and they have one child, three step-children and two grandchildren.

Joanne continues to volunteer not only in her personal life but also in her professional life, she is currently BCA's JBC board member. If you wish to contribute to the journal, please get in touch with Joanne, she is always eager to be of assistance.


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