July 30, 2020 – The August 2020 edition of the Journal of Vascular Surgery published an article, “Prevalence of Unprofessional Social Media Content Among Young Vascular Surgeons,” that incited an uproar among young doctors. It compelled us to stand in support of these young professionals, the lifeline of American medicine.
What did we feel on the social pulse?
We saw women in medicine posting pictures of themselves in bikinis using the hashtag – #medbikini – in support of their peer female doctors, especially vascular surgeons who were the focus of this study. Some of the men doctors also stood up to this cause on Instagram which is quite commendable.
The abstract of this research focused on unprofessional social media posts by young vascular surgery fellows and residents. If we go straight to the results of this report, the decision was based on a two-pronged criterion of clearly unprofessional and potentially unprofessional content on their social media accounts.
Clearly, it makes less sense when we notice the genders of those in the judgment box. All the panelists were males. Instead of addressing this issue keeping the genders in balance, the report passed a judgment against female doctors based on their pictures in a bikini, photos with uncensored profanity, their discussions on controversial topics, and offensive comments about peers/patients/employers. Such behavior was categorized under potentially unprofessional behavior.
The report highlights that the inappropriate behavior by people of medicine may affect a patient’s choice of physician, hospital, and medical facility. We think that’s a bit too much. People are online for a reason, one of them being a distraction from the monotonous cycle of their lives. Even if their patients do check them on social media, pictures of them having a good time should not be an issue. I mean, we all have our “me time” moments, and none of us should be held accountable for them.
Moreover, the Quality Payment Program or MIPS 2020 has Quality as one of its performance categories. For this purpose, they may have brought up this issue; however, it has taken an awkward turn because we cannot compare care delivery or care coordination with any levels of social media exposure.
Before they are vascular surgeons or doctors of another specialty, they are humans; we mustn’t forget that. One of the doctors wrote that if she had uploaded a picture of herself on vacation, would it be deemed potentially unprofessional too? It is not right to put them in that place.
I think it is time for us to rethink our societal norms if we want to go there, probe into the personal lives of medical professionals. The same goes for professions such as teachers, professors, and sportspersons. We cannot relate respect to beach outfits or alcoholic hangouts. It is much more than that, and we all know that. Quality of care does not depend on personal endeavors, happy hours, and special moments.
For more on it, and to read the original manuscript, please visit:
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