The hidden curriculum in health care academia: An exploratory study for the development of an action plan for the inclusion of diverse trainees

Felicity T. Enders, Elizabeth H. Golembiewski, Minerva Orellana, Carmen J. Silvano, Jeff Sloan, Joyce Balls-Berry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The hidden curriculum encompasses the norms, values, and behaviors within a learning environment. Navigating the hidden curricula of academia is crucial for doctoral trainees, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. Faculty mentors have an important role in helping trainees uncover and cope with the hidden curriculum. The purpose of this paper is to explore perceptions of the hidden curriculum among diverse doctoral trainees and mentors. Methods: Following a presentation on the hidden curriculum at the Association for Clinical and Translational Science annual meeting in March 2021, attendees were asked to brainstorm ideas for diverse trainees and their mentors. Breakout room discussions were held for specific hidden curriculum topics; participants voted on which topics to discuss from a list of topics defined during the presentation. Ideas from these discussions were presented to the larger group to upvote. Results: Participants (n = 116) voted to discuss the following hidden curriculum topics: coping with bias, assertive communication, knowing how things work, and developing a career. Many suggestions emphasized the role of institutions in empowering mentors to help diverse trainees and, more generally, to meaningfully support policies and programs that facilitate the career success of trainees and faculty from underrepresented backgrounds. Conclusions: This work generated a list of suggested action items for trainees, mentors, and institutions to ameliorate the hidden curricula of academia, especially for diverse trainees. However, institutions need to support changes that will facilitate these discussions as well as more broadly enable the success of faculty and students from diverse backgrounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere203
JournalJournal of Clinical and Translational Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 8 2021


  • Hidden curriculum
  • diversity
  • doctoral education
  • equity
  • inclusion
  • mentorship
  • professional development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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