Equal opportunities for clinical learning: is there any dust under the rug?

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Background: The power and influence of the hidden curriculum - culturally situated norms and values - on
learning opportunities is a growing concern in medical education. However, while medical schools produce
diversity and equal treatment policies, efforts towards surfacing and addressing equal opportunities in the
clinical learning environment trail behind.
Summary of Work: To better understand how students perceive equal opportunities and inclusion in the
clinical workplace we conducted a mixed method study. We distributed a learning climate questionnaire
(the UCEEM) to medical students in clinical rotations in a Portuguese medical program and followed up
results in a focus group interview with student representatives from all clinical years.
Summary of Results: Relatively high scores on the 'Equal treatment-scale' gave the impression that
students perceived that people in general were treated with equal respect and dignity in the workplace.
However, lower scores on the 'student inclusion- scale' and focus group data indicated that students not
always felt welcome or included in teams and some less than others. Narratives revealed discrimination
based on race, gender and weight influencing patient treatment and student learning opportunities.
Discussion and Conclusions: The investigation of how students perceived the learning climate in some
clinical workplaces suggest that equal opportunities and inclusion may be a blind spot. Less problematic on
the surface but a lot of dust under the rug. To broaden engagement and better understand where there
truly are issues and how to respond to them, a first step could be to create spaces for reflection and
dialogue among students and teachers.
Take-home Messages: Evaluations on learning climate should include questions on equal opportunities
and inclusion. Mixed methods are necessary to make sense of the data. Addressing the hidden curriculum
and power-structures in the clinical environment is complex and privilege is less visible to those who have
it. Nevertheless, these issues must be surfaced and addressed in student curricula as well as in faculty
development if policies are to be realized in practice.


External organisations
  • University of Beira Interior
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Medical and Health Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Aug 26
Publication categoryResearch
EventAMEE an international Association for Medical Education in Europe 2019 - Austria Center Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Duration: 2019 Aug 242019 Aug 28


ConferenceAMEE an international Association for Medical Education in Europe 2019
Abbreviated titleAMEE
Internet address