American Sociological Association

The Conscripted Curriculum and the Reproduction of Racial Inequalities in Contemporary U.S. Medical Education

In their attempt to address racial disparities in the provision of healthcare, the U.S. medical profession has reproduced racial inequalities of their own. In this article, I draw upon interview data with medical educators and students to detail how medical educators routinely offload the instruction on the social underpinnings and consequences of race onto students, particularly students of color. I develop the concept of the conscripted curriculum to capture how students’ social identities are utilized by educators in the professionalization process. While there are exceptions in curricular approaches, most educators create the conscripted curriculum by eliciting students to share their social experiences with race in the small group setting while only providing students with didactic material on biological understandings of race. As a result, students of color report experiencing more emotionally exhausting and unrewarded labor than their white peers, and educators further devalue the social implications of race for healthcare.


Lauren D. Olsen





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