Hidden Curricula, Ethics, and Professionalism: Optimizing Clinical Learning Environments in Becoming and Being a Physician: A Position Paper of the American College of Physicians

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Abstract

Much of what is formally taught in medicine is about the knowledge, skills, and behaviors required of a physician, including how to express compassion and respect for patients at the bedside. What is learned, however, includes not only admirable qualities but also behaviors and qualities that are inconsistent with ethics and professionalism. Positive role models may reinforce the character and values the profession seeks to cultivate; negative ones directly contradict classroom lessons and expectations of patients, society, and medical educators. These positive and negative lessons, which are embedded in organizational structure and culture, are the hidden curricula conveyed in medical schools, residency programs, hospitals, and clinics. This position paper from the American College of Physicians focuses on ethics, professionalism, and the hidden curriculum. It provides strategies for revealing what is hidden to foster the development of reflective and resilient lifelong learners who embody professionalism and clinicians who are, and are perceived as, positive role models. Making the hidden visible and the implicit explicit helps to create a culture reflecting medicine's core values.

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