Life imitating art: Depictions of the hidden curriculum in medical television programs

Title: Life imitating art: Depictions of the hidden curriculum in medical television programs
Authors: Stanek, Agatha
Clarkin, Chantalle
Bould, M D
Writer, Hilary
Doja, Asif
Date: 2015-09-26
Abstract: Abstract Background The hidden curriculum represents influences occurring within the culture of medicine that indirectly alter medical professionals’ interactions, beliefs and clinical practices throughout their training. One approach to increase medical student awareness of the hidden curriculum is to provide them with readily available examples of how it is enacted in medicine; as such the purpose of this study was to examine depictions of the hidden curriculum in popular medical television programs. Methods One full season of ER, Grey’s Anatomy and Scrubs were selected for review. A summative content analysis was performed to ascertain the presence of depictions of the hidden curriculum, as well as to record the type, frequency and quality of examples. A second reviewer also viewed a random selection of episodes from each series to establish coding reliability. Results The most prevalent themes across all television programs were: the hierarchical nature of medicine; challenges during transitional stages in medicine; the importance of role modeling; patient dehumanization; faking or overstating one’s capabilities; unprofessionalism; the loss of idealism; and difficulties with work-life balance. Conclusions The hidden curriculum is frequently depicted in popular medical television shows. These examples of the hidden curriculum could serve as a valuable teaching resource in undergraduate medical programs.
CollectionLibre accès - Publications // Open Access - Publications