The study in question, titled “Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons”, was recently published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery.
The authors said that “publicly available social media content” posted by vascular surgeons “may affect patient choice of physician, hospital and medical facility”.
They stated that “potentially unprofessional content” included pictures of vascular surgeons wearing “inappropriate attire”, such as “pictures in underwear, provocative Halloween costumes, and provocative posing in bikinis/swimwear”.
Following the publication of the study, doctors on social media have been pushing back against the notion that sharing pictures of themselves wearing bikinis makes them any less professional or capable of carrying out their jobs.
Numerous women doctors have been sharing pictures online of themselves wearing bikinis using the hashtag “#MedBikini”.
“I am a woman in medicine who loves to travel to tropical locations and dress accordingly. I will not wear my white coat and scrubs to Hawaii,” one person tweeted.
“This does not make me unprofessional or less intelligent or compassionate compared to my male colleagues.”
“As a hard-working and empowered woman in medicine, sometimes I like to get my coconuts out on the beach. Our swimsuits do not define our professionalism,” another said.
One surgeon shared a photograph of herself wearing a bikini two years ago, the first time she had worn one after undergoing a double mastectomy and chemotherapy.
“This pic does not show unprofessionalism; it shows #hope and #resilience,” she said.
I am a woman in medicine who loves to travel to tropical locations and dress accordingly. I will not wear my white coat and scrubs to Hawaii. This does not make me unprofessional or less intelligent or compassionate compared to my male colleagues. #medbikini #girlmedtwitter pic.twitter.com/RmCQBnUme6— saphrophyticus (@stephlococcus)July 23, 2020
My #MedBikini because there’s nothing unprofessional about a backyard swim, but also my Mardi Gras look because there’s nothing unprofessional about queerness. Let’s fight back against ‘professional standards’ as a tool for dismissal of those already disempowered within medicine pic.twitter.com/JZ9LypOS92— Emery Excell (@ExcellEmery)July 24, 2020
I’m incredibly happy to see that there has been so much support and calling out the blatant double standards in medicine that exist far beyond the world of twitter. And glad to see all these fearless women physicians fighting for our right to be in this space. #MedBikini https://t.co/6nIWC6oEnR— Carmen Simmons (@whereinmyworld)July 23, 2020
— Kesia (@KesiaNguyen)July 25, 2020
2 years ago: first time in a bikini after double mastectomy & chemo. This pic does not show unprofessionalism; it shows #hope & #resilience. #MedBikini #ILookLikeASurgeon @DrSusanLove @Liz_ORiordan @WomenSurgeons #CancerAwareness @tssmn @PROWDWomen pic.twitter.com/ffnxDxS5wj— Sharon Ben-Or (@sharonbenormd)July 26, 2020
One man, whose wife is a doctor and doesn’t have a Twitter account, shared a picture of his spouse wearing a bikini at the beach.
“My wife isn’t on Twitter but she’s a f***ing badass doctor, wife and mom and wears a bikini and drinks at the beach like a normal f***ing human being,” he stated.
A women obstetrician gynaecologist shared a photograph of herself and her male partner wearing swimwear.
She explained that while they are both in the same profession, “only one of us has been called ‘sweetie, kiddo, and/or hunny in front of patients”.
In addition to sparking condemnation for the exploration of “unprofessional social media content” among vascular surgeons, the study was also criticised for its methodology, which involved three male researchers creating “fake social media accounts“ on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to investigate the content other users were posting on the platforms.
In response to the backlash the study received, the Journal of Vascular Surgery released an apologetic statement.
“Many who have read the article expressed great concerns about the method of data collection, lack of diversity of the authors collecting data, as well as potential bias in the evaluation and conclusion,” the editor’s statement said.
“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.”