You know what the hidden curriculum means. If you've ever heard something like, "Now that you've finished your training, we'll teach you what it's really like to do this job," well, that's the voice of the hidden curriculum. Physicians in training are highly influenced by the words and deeds of their senior instructors and mentors. If those doctors give no more than lip service to the core mission of palliative care -- relieving suffering, helping articulate goals, guiding patients and families through transitions -- then the younger generation will do the same. Monkey see, monkey do.
The palliative care workforce is still too small for the workload. Here are some remarkable numbers that Dr. Morrison cites:
- There is one cardiologist for every 71 persons experiencing a heart attack
- And there is one oncologist for every 141 patients diagnosed with cancer
- But there is only one palliative medicine physician for every 31,000 persons living with a serious, life-threatening illness
To counteract the hidden curriculum, we're going to need a lot more help.