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Med Teach. 2011;33(12):989-96. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2011.577467.

How Italian students learn to become physicians: a qualitative study of the hidden curriculum.

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1
Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy. giulia.lamiani@unimi.it

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

A great deal of what medical students learn in terms of behaviors, values, and attitudes related to their profession is conveyed by the hidden curriculum.

AIM:

To explore the messages conveyed by the hidden curriculum as perceived by third-year students of the Milan School of Medicine, Italy, following their first clinical internship.

METHOD:

Three group interviews were conducted. Students were asked to reflect on values, attitudes, and implicit rules they noticed during their internship experiences. Verbatim transcripts of the group interviews were analyzed through content analysis using Nvivo8.

RESULTS:

Of the 81 students, 57 (70%) participated in the group interviews. Six themes were identified within the hidden curriculum: Physicians reassure and protect patients; power differential between physicians and patients; variable respect for patients; disease-centered medicine; respect for hierarchies; and delegation of patients' emotional needs to nurses.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our findings suggest that the hidden curriculum has a strong cultural component. In our students' experience, the hidden curriculum conveyed a paternalistic model of physician-patient relationships. Some of the messages conveyed by the actual hidden curriculum may compromise the standards formally taught in medical schools about doctor-patient relationships. Organizational culture change and student empowerment could be fostered to counteract the negative effects of the hidden curriculum.

PMID:
22225437
DOI:
10.3109/0142159X.2011.577467
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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