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RMJ. 2015; 40(3): 253-254

The Hidden Curriculum

Fawad Kaiser.

There has been general consensus emanating from medical fraternity and general public alike to increase the formal teaching of ethics within the medical school curriculum. In particular, it challenges a prevailing belief within the culture of medicine that while it may be possible to teach skills in recognizing the presence of common ethical problems, skills in ethical reasoning, or improved understanding of the language and concepts of ethics, an entire curriculum can in no way predominantly influence a student's personality or ensure ethical conduct. Mountains of biomedical knowledge must be acquired to achieve the “modeling of” and “learning how to be” a caregiver and health professional. Role modeling remains a crucial area in the development of professionalism in medical students and doctors.

Medical institutions worldwide have recognized the importance of teaching medical ethics to their students. Since 1993, UK undergraduate medical education curricula have been required to include medical ethics1 and in 1999, the World Medical Association recommended that medical ethics be taught in all medical schools.2 Unfortunately the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) does not require medical schools to teach bioethics as an independent subject.3 In Pakistan, some physicians still believe that medical students do not need a formal bioethics course during medical school. These physicians believe that students can learn ethical principles and behavior by “osmosis” namely, by working alongside their physician-teachers in clinics. The PMDC advises colleges offering MBBS and BDS courses as well as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan to, at a minimum, incorporate medical ethics as part of the curriculum.4 Interestingly, PMDC suggests that ethics be taught within the forensic medicine course.5

Key words: Medical education, medical students, medical ethics.

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