The pursuit of medical knowledge and the potential consequences of the hidden curriculum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


This study explores how preclinical medical students experience particular elements of their training, specifically their pursuit for medical knowledge and how this may impact their attributes as well as their relations with those outside of the realm of medicine. Ten first-year and 10 second-year students of a US medical school were interviewed regarding their experiences with and perceptions of their medical training. The students reported a cognitive and emotional distance from non-medical students that appears to be accentuated not only by their strenuous academic responsibilities but also elements of the hidden curriculum nested within medical training. Furthermore, students discuss experiencing disapproval, mistrust, and negative judgment toward laypersons thereby suggesting that this distancing may lend to deleterious effects on students' ability and willingness to connect with others. A Parsonian lens is utilized to examine the notion of a 'Knowledge Gap' as well as aspects of the hidden curriculum in medical education and their role in professionalizing medical students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-281
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Talcott Parsons
  • communication skills
  • hidden curriculum
  • medical school
  • preclinical medical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)


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