The Hidden Curriculum

While most students are on break in June, Doctor of Medicine (MD) students gather at the Melbourne Convention Centre for the MD Student Conference (MDSC). MDSC is an educational initiative unique to the Melbourne Medical School, and for the last seven years, the annual event has been well received by students.


The conference is an insight into their future as medical professionals and an opportunity to explore medicine’s ‘hidden curriculum’. Co-convenors RJ Seastres and Jonathan Chen sat down to discuss the place of MDSC in the curriculum.

“We build it from the ground up,” says RJ. “It’s your opportunity to learn what you feel is not in the medical school curriculum, if you’re brave and passionate enough. It’s so empowering to be on this committee. I can do something about these gaps, and let everybody have an opportunity to learn with me.”

The conference is entirely student-driven. Students formulate the program, recruit speakers, run activities, promote the event and organise everything in between. They can take charge of their education through a diverse range of academic and social activities, where they can exchange ideas, get involved with a cause, and learn about new technologies and updated practices.

Students learn to work together as colleagues along the way. “The thing our team all have in common is they all dream big. Don’t start low – we want you to aim high,” Jonathan adds. “People can come, talk about whatever they want and get some learning out of it. The MDSC is a place where you get to direct your learning. That’s why it’s so powerful.”

MDSC makes translational learning one of its chief goals, to help students bridge the gap between learning and practice. This year's academic themes include privilege and power, advocacy, professional well-being, and patient care in the context of cancer. The themes reflect the issues most pertinent to students today. Each day practical and informative skills sessions are run, designed to engage, challenge and encourage the more conscientious practice.

It’s a rare thing to see the entire cohort under one roof, and an even rarer opportunity for students to step out of the classroom and gain an appreciation for their communities, and their place within it as the medical professionals of the future.

MDSC 2017 will take place from June 26 to June 29. Find out more at, or contact RJ Seastres and Jonathan Chen at for further information.

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Kathy Zhang