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Table 1 Major and minor themes of the hidden curriculum as depicted in television dramas

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

Theme Definition Example
Major themes
Hierarchical nature of medicine
Discipline This centers around the primacy put on certain specialties and sub specialties. Perceived “superiority” of some specialties over others
Position in the hierarchy The reinforcement of junior-senior interprofessional relations and positions within the medical hierarchy. A staff physician belittling a junior resident
Patient perspective Patients reinforcing hierarchy among medical trainees. Patient refuses the services of a younger-looking professional over an older professional
Unprofessionalism This refers to an individual’s behavior that demonstrates a lack of integrity or responsibility from others Unprofessionalism from a staff physician
Evidence of tolerance of unprofessional behavior
Patient dehumanization A broad term that demonstrates a lack of empathy or respect for patients from medical professionals. Treating patients as objects/ data sources
Not referring to patients by name but by diagnosis
Life balance This encompasses the challenges experienced by all medical professionals in keeping an equilibrium between hours worked and the demands of personal/ family life. Putting aside personal time to stay beyond the time needed for a shift
Role modeling How medical students “model” exemplary behavior of staff doctors Trainees modeling/ tailoring behaviors to meet needs of staff doctors
Discussions regarding behaviors they ‘have to model’ but will not continue when they are independent
Minor themes
Consequences of the hidden curriculum This refers to the loss of idealism among medical students as they progress from their first year into their residency and beyond. Loss of idealism of trainees
Emotional neutralization/ suppression
Adoption of a “ritualized” professional identity
Change in ethical integrity
Shift from focus on patient care to medical technology or nature of procedure
Staging Challenges during transitional stages in medicine Discrepancy between what is seen in theory and on the wards
Faking it Reflects dishonest behavior for personal gain regarding prestige, competition, and favoritism. Overstating capabilities