Stunting professionalism: The potency and durability of the hidden curriculum within medical education

Barret Michaleca, Frederic W. Hafferty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Despite an extensive literature within medical education touting the necessity in developing professionalism among future physicians, there is little evidence these 'calls' have thus far had an appreciable effect. Although various researchers have suggested that the hidden curriculum within medical education has a prominent role in stunting the development of professionalism among future physicians, there has been minimal discussion of how the content of the hidden curriculum actually function to this end. In this article, we explore: (i) how the hidden curriculum may function within medical education as a countervailing force to medicine's push for professionalism and (ii) why the hidden curriculum continues to persist within medical training and particular aspects so difficult to dilute. We conclude by proposing mechanisms to assuage elements of the hidden curriculum, which may, in turn, allow the principles of professionalism to blossom among medical students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-406
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Theory and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
At the practice level, various medical specialty bodies have developed professionalism codes and charters. For example, the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, the American College of Physicians, the American Society of Internal Medicine Foundation and the European Federation of Internal Medicine have created a physician professionalism charter, now endorsed by over 125 medical organizations worldwide (ABIM Foundation, ACP-ASIM Foundation, and European Federation of Internal Medicine, 2002). Furthermore, the American Board of Medical Specialties, the organization that sets standards


  • Hidden curriculum
  • Medical education
  • Professionalism


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