Learning professionalism through hidden curriculum: Iranian medical students’ perspective

  • Sajjad Azmand Department of Medical Ethics, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
  • Sedigheh Ebrahimi Department of Medical Ethics, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.
  • Mohammadtaghi Iman Department of Sociology, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran.
  • Omid Asemani Department of Medical Ethics, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.
Keywords: Hidden curriculum, Professionalism, Undergraduate medical student, Content analysis, In-depth interview


Learning professionalism is a central topic in medical education. While many factors could affect the educational process of professionalism, hidden curriculum is considered one of the most important ones. As the working components of a hidden curriculum might be specific to the settings, this study explored its components in terms of professionalism and ethical conduct from the viewpoint of Iranian undergraduate medical trainees. Semi-structured and in-depth interviews were used to collect medical students' experiences and viewpoints, which were then analyzed through simple content analysis and the codes and categories were extracted. Finally, themes were derived as the central organizing concepts. Saturation occurred after 17 interviews. Seven main themes were extracted as the working components of hidden curriculum regarding professionalism in the setting: ‘convenient patients’, ‘evaluate me’, ‘trust as the base of team interactions’, ‘perceiving encouragement’, ‘relationship satisfaction and authenticity’, ‘workload and students’ well-being’ and ‘role modeling at the heart of professionalism’. Students' perception and experiences are a rich source of gaining a deeper understanding of the working hidden curriculum. In this study, two groups of human-related and environment-related elements were extracted. They were effective in the formation of the current 'ethical climate', which shaped the professional and ethical identity of medical trainees. Moreover, specific plans regarding the condition of the settings may provide opportunities for medical educators to enhance professionalism in their institutions.

Author Biographies

Sajjad Azmand, Department of Medical Ethics, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
PhD Candidate of Medical Ethics
Sedigheh Ebrahimi, Department of Medical Ethics, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.
Associate Professor
Mohammadtaghi Iman, Department of Sociology, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran.
Omid Asemani, Department of Medical Ethics, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.
Assistant Professor  


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How to Cite
Azmand S, Ebrahimi S, Iman M, Asemani O. Learning professionalism through hidden curriculum: Iranian medical students’ perspective. jmehm. 11.
Original Article(s)