Physicians (Including Female Physicians) Are People Too

I am posting a compelling article written by Nina Shapiro which calls attention to an article which went viral, then was retracted due to uproar and outrage.
The original post can be found here.

Viral #MedBikini Response To Controversial Manuscript Leads Editor To Retract Article

Remember that time you saw your teacher at the grocery store? Maybe you’re still recovering from the trauma. Even though nine-year-old you knew that your teacher was, well, human, the idea that he or she engaged in human behaviors similar to those of your own family was a tough pill to swallow. Spotting a teacher on vacation? Perish the thought. What about your doctor? Your surgeon? They don’t actually eat food, do errands, or (gasp) go to the beach like the rest of us, do they? Well if they do, just hope you don’t have to witness it, right? With social media, oftentimes a click of a button will save you a trip out in public to peek at the private lives of those who care for you or your children. One group based in Boston sought to take their own peek into the lives of young surgeons via fabricated social media accounts. And they wrote about it in a highly respected academic journal.

In the August 2020 issue of the Journal of Vascular Surgery, a manuscript entitled “Prevalence of Unprofessional Social Media Content Among Young Vascular Surgeons,” was retracted by the journal’s editorial board yesterday. The article sought to identify what the authors consider to be “inappropriate” and “unprofessional” behavior on various social media platforms by young vascular surgeons, in efforts to recognize and, in turn, discourage, any such behavior which could have a negative impact on patient respect for physicians. While some of the issues addressed are clearly critical for patient care, including patient privacy violations, slander of colleagues, and illegal drug use, many of the other issues addressed can be construed as privacy violations into the lives of young physicians. Particularly female physicians. The investigators focused on recent vascular surgery residency and fellowship graduates, putting the average age of the study subjects (who did not give permission to be studied) at around 30-35 years old. They created “neutral” (translation: fake) Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts to search the social media feeds of young surgeons.

  • The three fake accounts to search for unprofessional behavior were created by male students and fellows, ages 28-37 years old. Included in what they considered to be unprofessional behavior were photographs of “provocative” Halloween costumes and poses in bikinis. In addition, any reference to politically or socially-charged issues such as abortion and gun control were included as unprofessional behavior. The real social media world got word of this publication, and responded loud and clear. The notion that the focus was targeting young female surgeons on how they dress during their non-work time was met with disgust and uproar. The hashtag #MedBikini went viral on Twitter and Instagram, bringing countless women (and men) to proudly post pictures of themselves in bikinis or other casual attire, along with the #MedBikini hashtag, in mutual support of so-called “unprofessional” behavior outside of the operating room.

While the authors did address issues of patient privacy and uncollegial behavior, the focus on female surgeons wearing bikinis, especially tracked by male students and fellows under fake social media accounts, raised the “creep” factor to higher and higher levels as the issue came to the public. Hearkening back to the #ILookLikeASurgeon hashtag, which began in 2016, pointing out that, yes, even bikini-clad, all-shapes-and-sizes, all-genders-regardless-of-identity can be and are surgeons, #MedBikini is a trend to humanize, not de-professionalize, women in a traditionally male profession.

Dr. Mudit Chowdhary, a Chief Resident in Radiation Oncology at Rush University, shared his concerns with the study and on social media. When asked why he felt so strongly about the manuscript, he stated, “I have issues with the definition of unprofessional behavior…it is inappropriate to label social issues as unprofessional. We are humans first before physicians. Plus, the issues they label as controversial (gun control, abortion) are healthcare issues. Physicians are taught to be community leaders in medical school and we need to speak up in order to help our communities.” When asked about whether or not physicians should be held to higher standards, even on social media, he responded, “I do believe physicians should have some higher standards. For example, disclosing HIPAA information is something nobody else has to deal with. However, much of the issue is that the medical field is highly conservative and misogynistic.”

In response to such widely disseminated disgust with this publication, one of the lead authors, Dr. Jeffrey Siracuse, issued a public apology on Twitter:

And soon after, the editors of the journal issued a public statement with plans to retract the article from the journal. In their statement, they reveal that there were errors in the review process, including the issue of conscious and unconscious bias on the part of the investigators, as well as failure to obtain permission from national program directors to use the database in searching private and public social media accounts of recent graduates of training programs. Their retraction statement concluded as follows:

“Finally, we offer an apology to every person who has communicated the sadness, anger, and disappointment caused by this article. We have received an outpouring of constructive commentary on this matter, and we intend to take each point seriously and take resolute steps to improve our review process and increase diversity of our editorial boards.” (Peter Gloviczki, MD and Peter F. Lawrence, MD, Editors, Journal of Vascular Surgery).

There was some favorable response to this statement and retraction, yet many continue to feel that an assessment of professionalism was carried out in an extremely unprofessional manner, underscoring the irony of such an endeavor. Not to mention the lack of diversity in the editorial board, comprised of two male surgeons who happen to share the same first name.

While the issue of professionalism on the part of physicians should remain paramount, and does, indeed, require further exploration, monitoring, and careful attention, especially when it comes to patient privacy, social issues outside of the medical sphere should, perhaps, remain just social. But if you do see your surgeon out at the grocery store, or even at the beach, all that should matter right now is that they (and you) are wearing a mask.

The journal’s editor, Dr. Peter Gloviczki, commented that the paper had gone through the journal’s standard editorial review process, with three reviewers accepting the manuscript after major revisions. While the board is racially diverse, Dr. Gloviczki acknowledges that it lacks gender diversity. Soon after the concerns for the paper were made public, the editorial board “immediately reviewed the data collection, methodology, gender bias, results, and conclusions. It was obvious within our board that we found issues, including the fact that the list of doctors obtained from the Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery is designed for internal society use, not for clinical data collection.” In addition, Dr. Gloviczki noted the journal’s failure “to identify definitions of unprofessional behavior and we missed the issue of subjectivity and bias in the review process.” He emphatically apologized for the errors, stating “We learned from this. We will be changing our review process, initiating a series of changes, including expanding the editorial board to include more women.”

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Inappropriate Things People Do


There are times when I am completely flabbergasted by the things people do which clearly overstep the bounds of professionalism and decency. It seems like more and more individuals seem to have lost their social filters, perhaps because they are so fed up with all the stress which modern society flings at them. People seem more desperate these days, like they are grasping for meaning in their lives. What is odd is that my observation of human behavior in general these days has been a collection of unpredictable, risky, peculiar, and sometimes just plain psychotic behavior.

Here are my top three out of the latest collection of gripes against people who have done and said inappropriate things:

1. The man with whom I had a business interaction who decided that there was no problem taking my contact information which was submitted for business purposes and sending me an email asking me out! MY GOD. I berated him for his utter lack of professionalism and for being so presumptuous. I am NOT on the market, and at no time did I make any indication that I was, nor did I send any sort of flirtatious vibe. Though he apologized, he went on an on about how he had perceived a connection, and about how he should have asked me out in person. To the man who stepped over the line: You are delusional. There was NO CONNECTION, but I guess in your desperate mind, you wanted to believe there was one so you made it up in your messed up head. Just because a woman is nice and engages in conversation does NOT mean that she is interested in you! Also, mister, if you had asked me out in person, I would have openly scolded you right in front of your co-workers, so that would have been a horrible idea as well. My suggestion is for you to understand how unprofessional you are!

2. The disgusting people who repeatedly post disgusting porn images on my Facebook fan page. What sucks is that I cannot block them since they are doing it on my fan page. I am shocked that Facebook fails to protect the fan pages of users, allowing scumbags to post whatever they want. This is harassment and abuse, and it should be a reportable offense! There was only one time I was able to find one of the people when I went to my main personal page, and when I did, I blocked that jerk immediately.

1. The guy who boldly wrote to me via my landing page, trying to persuade me to open the lines of communication with him. I am not stupid, and I my “oh shit, this guy is hitting on me” radar went off. I wrote to him and asked if he was inquiring about training or nutrition programs, or if he was trying to establish a “social connection” as I put it. I also made it clear that if it was the latter, I was NOT interested. He had the gall to send me a photo of himself, stating that I should see what he looked like! Sorry buddy, the answer is still and always a big, fat NO! As a matter of fact, the fact that he was stubborn enough to send a photo of himself (thank goodness he was fully clothed in it!) angered me. When I say I am not interested, nothing can change my mind. So let it go already!

Picture Perfect With The Ladies: How To Model With A Female

Originally published on Tuesday, 29 November 2011

You may have modeled alone numerous times and are comfortable with your poses. This may lead you to think that posing with a woman is no different. However, there are numerous points to keep in mind any time you are at a shoot in which you are expected to pose with a lady.

First of all, don’t allow nerves to distract you from performing as expected. What helps tremendously with getting over any nervousness is to chat with the woman before the shoot in order to establish a comfort level. You don’t have to discuss anything in particular, but at least get an idea of her personality.

Be aware of the goal of the shoot. If the goal is to shoot a cover or an ad, you will most likely be the center of focus since many covers showcase the man while using the woman as a type of accessory. Fitness photographers are typically excellent at posing their models, which means you need to be able to follow direction without offering commentary on the poses you are being asked to do. If the photographer tells you to open your shoulders, or turn your head slightly more to the right, then just do it. Sometimes these microadjustments may be challenging since you have to hold a pose while also flexing and looking like you are having the time of your life. But all these elements are key in conveying the proper energy and mood through the images.

Move slowly between each pose and give the lady time to adjust as well. Remember that she needs to be in the proper pose as well. If you are asked to touch each other, perhaps with your hand around her waist and her hands on your chest or shoulder, be respectful of her. That being said, make sure that when you are both in a pose in which you are touching, you both look like you actually like each other, even if you can’t stand each other. Your poses and your facial expressions need to be genuine and believable.

Remember to carry yourself in a professional manner during the shoot. It doesn’t matter if you have the hots for your modeling partner remain a professional. If you must, you can ask for a date WELL after the shoot is over!

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