European Journal of Anatomy

Official Journal of The Spanish Society of Anatomy
Cover Volume 22 - Number 2
Eur J Anat, 22 (2): 173-182 (2018)

Teaching by stealth: utilising the hidden curriculum through body painting within anatomy education

Justine J. Aka1, Natalie E. Cookson2, Frederic W. Hafferty3, Gabrielle M. Finn2

1Department of Anatomy, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, 2Health Professions Education Unit, Hull York Medical School, University of York, United Kingdom, 3Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, United States of America

ABSTRACT This study considers the hidden curriculum within anatomy education, with a specific focus on body painting. Body painting is not only utilised within anatomy education for teaching surface anatomy and clinical examination, but also to provide a platform for the development of other skills, primarily through the hidden curriculum. The hidden curriculum is the unplanned curriculum transmitting tacit messages to students on values, attitudes, principles and organisation. This may lend itself to deliver values in line with General Medical Council UK registration requirements of ‘safety and quality’, ‘communication’, ‘partnership and teamwork’, and ‘maintaining trust’ in the undergraduate medical curriculum. This qualitative study explored faculty perceptions of the use of body painting as a teaching tool. The hidden curriculum appeared spontaneously as a major advantage of utilising painting. Four major themes emerged; trait development, socialisation, tacit learning and script formation. Anatomy education lends itself to an environment in which to study the hidden curriculum. Results from this study demonstrate faculty awareness of, and deliberate use of, the hidden curriculum as a method to ‘teach by stealth’, and therefore by actively employing the term pushing at the boundaries of the hidden curriculum concept.

Keywords: Anatomy – Body paint – Art – Medical students – Medical education – Surface anatomy – Hidden curriculum – Medical curriculum – Teaching anatomy – Professionalism

European Journal of anatomy
ISSN 2340-311X (Online)