ken explains the hidden curriculum - we don't believe you. you need more people.

I had a friend that once asked me, "What's the biggest problem facing humanity?" His answer was overpopulation. My answer was that we are becoming less and less awesome. Think about it. How many truly awesome people do you know? We're drifting farther and farther away from awesome as we lose what makes us human - believing, loving, caring. Our society acknowledges this, yet it continues to pump out boring adults that don't believe, love, or care. 
closer than you think

If I had to label our generation I'd go with overly-sensitive. Being sensitive to other humans is certainly a sign of maturity, but did we go too far? Now we're so hyper-sensitive that we won't ever talk about what we believe because god forbid we come across as self-righteous. Which, in a counterintuitive way makes us look better, so we're actually being selfish by not talking about ourselves. Confusing, but here's my take-away: the less we talk about what makes us awesome, the less awesome we become.

What does this have to do with medicine? More and more doctors enter their practicing years burned out with little energy left to care for patients, and we're left with hospitals staffed by robots. As Dr. Kern would say, this is not the fault of individual doctors. It's the fault of the medical system at large, breaking down the humanity of doctors. 

Our transformation into robots starts in med school, where the hidden curriculum is at work. Per wikipedia - the hidden curriculum is a side effect of the education system that teaches lessons that were not intended. Example - med students are encouraged to ask for help, yet anatomy lab professors chastise us every week by pimping us on the origin of obscure nerves. If they make us look like fools for not knowing every small detail, why would we dare to ask any stupid questions? And if we can't ask questions, we're left on an island to fend for ourselves. Coupled with having zero free time, the hidden curriculum leaves us too burned out to believe, love, care. Here's a diagram for you visual learners. 

If you don't believe me, hit up pubmed. There are studies that document a decrease in empathy during med school. sidenote - before I go on, I'd like to make one thing clear. This is not me vs MUSC administration. I love MUSC. I really do. I sincerely respect the work the higher ups have done to keep MUSC on the upward trajectory. MUSC is the #5 most popular medical school, 75% of students offered an invitation to attend decide to accept. That is really great. Working in academia is thankless, and I am in deep admiration. What I hate is the hidden curriculum. This is a curriculum that reaches every med school from Harvard to the Caribbean.

You might be thinking, "So what? That's the system. It's too big to change." 

Please don't believe that. 

I wish I could tell you to look up to the role models in the older generation, but Ben Carsons and Paul Farmers are few and far between. And frankly, I've heard enough about Farmer and Carson. I get it - they're great - but they're past their prime. I want to hear about how we are changing medicine. 

Throughout history, old people have dominated what young people think. They hold leadership positions, their faces run on television, they write newspaper columns. But not today. The media that modern med students consume are twitter, the blogosphere, and youtube. Conveniently, anyone can publish on those platforms. This is a time when young people can broadcast their beliefs loud and clear to anyone who will listen. This is a revolution. For the first time in history - naive, idealistic, young people have control over the propaganda. 

We are the young generation. We leave high paying jobs to pursue a life with meaning because Christopher Wallace taught us that mo money mo problems. We spend our free mornings building relationships with poor kids at local high schools. We care about 'us' instead of obsess over how to get 'mine' because we know getting 'mine' is empty. If we band together, no one can beat us. 

we don't believe you
you need more people
And that's exactly how the hidden curriculum is taking us down - the hardest part about med school is being so isolated. They want us to believe that it's 'normal' to bottle up our emotions and power through every struggle. They teach that 'humble' is doing good deeds without talking about it. They want us to prioritize our own grades over relationships. And the more we stay quiet, the more they win. Well, fuck they

We need med students coming together and talking about life. I'm not saying don't study. I'm just saying, don't let them take over. We need to get together and talk, respectfully disagree, and figure out how we're going to fix this mess that they left us. If we stop talking about it, we'll forget it ever mattered. And then, shit. We'll just be they.

Fellow med students. If you are still resisting the robot transformation, get at me. Keep talking. I know you are out there. Maybe we could broadcast what you believe to the world. We need you on our side. 

You know where to find me. 

see you on the other side,

from ken

enjoy sidenote in less than 140 characters @kensidenotelife


  1. I agree with communication with peers is a good thing. There are many voices to be heard and through that more questions, ideas, problems and solutions to come to the forefront. Yet, I foresee some potential hazards developing with this modern system of communication. The transformation of media is flowing in such a direction, as you mention, in which people seek out their peers on the internet. Young people to twitter, facebook, youtube, but the old geezers are still reading the wall street journal and watching cable news.

    One problem that I see in this development is the further propagation of the “us-versus-them” dynamic. I mention this as a further propagation of the dynamic, because it is a well-entrenched mode of interaction that makes perfect sense on the human level; we tend to listen and interact with people of our own similar interests and development level. The problem arises when there is limited to no cross interaction accept on a superficial level. The young people and the old people get so caught up in themselves that each fails to try to understand the other side and therefore are treated to misconceptions about the other and have a tendency to place blame on the other for the problems that exist. Each side has its own point of view and the further and further that they pull away from each other, the less each side understands about the other.

    Therefore, while communication is great, it can’t be overloaded on one side; cross-fertilization coupled with mutual respect must occur for productive changes to come to fruition.

    1. Yeah it's a good point. If I had to tackle the problem, I'd start by getting peer groups to communicate and then grow the peer group to encompass more people, rather than grouping a bunch of random people together from the beginning and then trying to get them to talk.

      from ken

    2. Yeah agree, nothing better than people with similar ideas to get things going in a guided direction. Hardest part is to get people of dissimilar backgrounds and ideas to come together, especially when they have no intention of trying to work with each other. Congress and politics in general is a good example now-a-days.

      My solution, more people should listen to the Rolling Stones song "You Can't Always Get What You Want":

    3. Yeah, or "Stand by me."

  2. My contribution is Us V Them:

    Yeah I'm with Tom on this Ken. I love love love the sentiment of constantly pushing for a better system, but I think the best changes come when people of dissimilar opinions grapple with each other with mutual respect. Perhaps the most revolutionary ideas of our country were born out of a room in Philadelphia filled with men who vehemently disagreed with each other on important issues.

    1. What are the best changes that have happened?