Study Calls Swimsuit-Clad Female Surgeons 'Unprofessional' and 'Provocative'; Doctors Outraged

As protests gained momentum, Twitter was flooded with photographs of doctors posing in bikinis.

Outraged over a study that called vascular surgeons provocative and unprofessional for posting pictures in swimsuits on social media, several doctors took to Twitter to lodge their protest. The micro-blogging site was flooded with photographs of doctors posing in bikini as they shared their professional achievements.

The study, which focused on the social media activity of the vascular surgeons, suggested that the publicly available social media content may affect the patient's choice of physician, hospital, and medical facility. The study was undertaken by a team of researchers that mostly comprised men.

 Stephanie deGiorgio
Stephanie deGiorgio, a GP tweeted the picture in protest to the study. 'I am good at my job, I am a professional. I am a doctor. I am also a human. So to anyone who wishes to take issue with it.....Sod off. Yes, this is an alcoholic mojito,' she wrote. Twitter

'Inappropriate Attire' Affect Professional Reputation'

The study titled 'Prevalence of Unprofessional Social Media Content Among Young Vascular Surgeons' was first published in the Journal of Vascular surgery in December 2019. The furore over the article came after it was made free to view and subsequently reached a larger audience, reported the Insider.

The researchers created fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and studied the social media accounts of 480 graduating vascular surgery trainees from 2016 to 2018. The study was divided into two parts including unprofessional and potentially unprofessional content posted by the vascular surgeons on their accounts.

Pictures holding or consuming alcohol, inappropriate attire, censored profanity, controversial political or religious comments and controversial social topics were listed under the potentially unprofessional content of the study.

Terming the study disturbing, Dr. Mudit Chowdhary, a radiation oncology chief resident at Rush University in Chicago, tweeted in support of the fellow female surgeons. "If you are a true #heforshe then you must speak up against this disturbing study 3 men created fake social media accounts to purposefully spy on applicants Worse they are shaming our women physician colleagues for wearing bikinis. #MedTwitter #MedBikini #retraction," he wrote.

Enraged over the double standards adopted by the researchers in the study, Ariela Rozenek, a fifth-year obstetrics and gynecology resident, tweeted: "Instead of tagging the flaming garbage paper that's inspiring the hashtag - here's some actual examples of unprofessional behaviour."

Study Author Apologizes

By Thursday evening the trend gained momentum with many doctors coming out to mark their protest against the study for shaming female surgeons. The social media site was buzzing with hashtags #MedTwitter and #MedBikini.

Many users also called for the retraction of the controversial study targeting female doctors. "So this study was published shaming physicians for being 'unprofessional' by wearing bikinis or holding a beer in a photo? And the study was conducted by 3 men who created fake social media accounts to spy on applicants? This 'study' must be retracted," tweeted medical student Nicholas Leighton.

As the outrage grew, two of the authors, Thomas Cheng and Dr Jeffrey Siracuse, tweeted identical apologies. "Our intent was to empower surgeons to be aware and then personally decide what may be easily available for patients and colleagues to see about us. However, this was not the result. We realize that the definition of professionalism is rapidly changing in medicine and that we need to support trainees and surgeons as our society changes. We are sorry that we made the young surgeons feel targeted and that we were judgmental," the authors were quoted by the New York Post.

"I certainly want my patients to trust and respect me, and part of that may be influenced by a public social media presence," Agoubi, 28, told The Post. "However, the bottom line is who decides what is and isn't unprofessional should not be left up to three men," Dr Lauren Agoubi, a Seattle-based surgeon, told the outlet.