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Med Teach. 2018 Apr;40(4):395-399. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2017.1408897. Epub 2017 Dec 21.

Medical students and professionalism - Do the hidden curriculum and current role models fail our future doctors?

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a Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care , The Chinese University of Hong Kong , Shatin , Hong Kong , China.
b Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care , Prince of Wales Hospital , Shatin, New Territories , Hong Kong , China.



Formal medical curricula aim to promote professionalism through learning from lectures, interactive tutorials and simulations. We report an exploratory voting exercise, conducted within a new integrated professional teaching module, examining the likely influence on students' knowledge and perceptions of truth telling.


Responses were collected from cohorts of final year students over a six-year period. Students were asked to pick between two responses to a standardized clinical vignette, firstly the response that they personally thought was the more desirable action, and subsequently the response they believed would most likely result in the context of everyday real-life clinical practice.


The difference (proportional change) in voting for "avoid full disclosure" from vote 1 (more desirable action) to vote 2 (likely real-life response) was 50% (95% CI: 36-64%, pā€‰<ā€‰0.001) favoring avoidance of full disclosure.


This finding highlights a substantial inconsistency between the knowledge taught by the formal curriculum, and the perception generated by the hidden curriculum. Medical Schools should develop strategies to manage the hidden curriculum, prepare clinical teachers to be good role models, and prepare students to be discerning about the hidden curriculum and when choosing role models.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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