Examining the Hidden Curriculum of Medical School From a First-Generation Student Perspective

Fokas & Coukos / Neurology / March 2023

With the incorporation of pass/fail outcomes into the curricula of many medical schools, a greater premium is being placed on leadership, research, and other extracurricular pursuits. These activities, as well as the cultivation of social capital, represent a “hidden curriculum” which offers significant benefits to career development that are not often explicitly stated. The hidden curriculum benefits students with generational knowledge of the medical school infrastructure and harms first-generation and/or low-income (FGLI) students, who take longer to integrate into the professional environment and experience more challenges along the way. FGLI students show increased persistence, and they offer diverse perspectives, but poor representation and lack of a clear pathway narrow their entry into several medical specialties, including neurology. As neurologists and educators, we play a role during a critical time of medical student professional development and can help bring the hidden curriculum into the light.