The hidden curriculum of work-based learning for pharmacy students in public sector pharmacies in South Africa


  • Mea van Huyssteen University of the Western Cape, Bellville
  • Angeni Bheekie University of the Western Cape, Bellville


Hidden Curriculum, Pharmacy Education, Structural Competency, Work-Based Learning


Background: The work-based learning environment encompasses a dynamic space where the implementation of theoretical knowledge and skills may prove to be at odds with routine service delivery practices, known as the hidden curriculum.

Objective: To describe incidents reflective of the hidden curriculum of fourth year pharmacy students from work-based learning experiences at public healthcare facilities.

Method: A qualitative, descriptive study was conducted. Data from written student reflection reports were thematically analysed.

Results: From 35 reports, three primary themes including time, binaries, and students’ personal histories, influenced interactions in the workplace. These themes illustrated how the students’ professional and personal traits interlocked with historical, structural and cultural influences in the workplace as well as larger society.

Conclusion: Uncovering of the hidden curriculum revealed that the students’ ability to navigate workload pressure, polarisation between groups and their own biases are crucial to firstly survive, and secondly to learn in the workplace. 

Author Biographies

Mea van Huyssteen, University of the Western Cape, Bellville

Senior leturer at School of Pharmacy

Angeni Bheekie, University of the Western Cape, Bellville

School of Pharmacy


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Research Article