Bursting the Hidden Curriculum Bubble: A Surgical Near-Peer Mentorship Pilot Program for URM Medical Students

J Surg Educ. 2021 Jul 24;S1931-7204(21)00185-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2021.07.003. Online ahead of print.


The hidden curriculum of unspoken professional expectations negatively impacts medical student interest in surgery. Medical student mentorship and early surgical exposure have been shown to demystify the hidden curriculum. Although residents and faculty play a vital role, near-peer mentorship may aid in uncovering the hidden curriculum and promoting medical student interest in surgery, especially for those learners who are underrepresented in medicine. We developed and implemented a formalized near-peer mentorship program composed of quarterly small group Surgical Peer Teacher led lessons and one-on-one Surgical Support Team mentorship meetings covering surgical curriculum topics for medical students at an academic medical school. This structured near-peer mentorship model provides a mechanism to demystify surgical culture, increase early access to surgical mentorship, and develop mentorship skills amongst students. This program aims to uncover the surgical hidden curriculum to improve surgical career support and interest among medical students with less exposure and access to physician role models. This longitudinal mentorship model is student-run and can be easily adapted to enhance existing support models at medical schools. Future studies will evaluate utilization, impact on surgical specialty interest, and efficacy in demystifying the surgical hidden curriculum.

Keywords: Near-peer; hidden curriculum; medical education; mentorship; surgical education; underrepresented in medicine.