BACKGROUND: Ambiguity in understanding what "professionalism" means, and uncertainty in how best to teach it, remains. This study aimed to explore experiences of senior faculty in their endeavor to develop and include professionalism within a curriculum reform (CR), and illuminate challenges encountered.
METHODS: Using a qualitative case study approach, data were collected from interviews with faculty who were involved in a major CR, plus archived document analysis to provide context, and aid triangulation. Data coding and analysis were inductive, using thematic analysis to generate initial coding scheme; exploring themes in the data.
RESULTS: Seventeen interviews were undertaken and approximately 90 documents were reviewed. Analysis revealed: faculty may unintentionally influence, through mixed messages and hidden meanings, the content and processes of professionalism teaching and learning. We identified several intersecting tensions related to the nature of the existing curriculum, staff knowledge, resources, and lack of clear guidance about the "what and how" to teach professionalism.
CONCLUSION: This study illustrates, hidden messages and contextual factors can enable or inhibit the translation of professionalism into curricula. Those involved in implementing professionalism must be reflective, keep the "hidden curriculum" in the spotlight to consider how presuppositions and prejudices of their cultural milieu may shape curricular outcomes.