Doctors tweet swimsuit photos in rebuke of critical journal article

Scores of doctors have rallied against an article published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery that called out new vascular surgery doctors for "unprofessional content" on their social media pages.
By Laura Lovett
02:25 pm

A new twitter movement dubbed #MedBikini has emerged after a research article published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery concluded that half of the recent and soon-to-be graduates in vascular surgery has social media accounts with “unprofessional content.” 

This content included what researchers categorized as “inappropriate attire,” which the article defined as: “pictures in underwear, provocative Halloween costumes, and provocative posing in bikinis/swimwear,” as well as ones where people were holding or consuming alcohol, or which included profanity or controversial political and social topics.

"One-half of recent and soon to be graduating vascular surgery trainees had an identifiable social media account with more than one-quarter of these containing unprofessional content. ... Young surgeons should be aware of the permanent public exposure of unprofessional content that can be accessed by peers, patients, and current/future employers," authors of the study warned. 

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In response, hundreds of doctors have taken to Twitter posting photos of themselves in bikinis and other swimwear. Many posts discussed the importance of work-life balance. 

“I'm here in support of my female Vascular Surgery colleagues because (gasp) #WomenInCardiology also wear bikinis on family vacations. Women doctors are like real people. Having some fun in our free time does not make us unprofessional. Wellness makes us better doctors. #MedBikini,” @ErinMichos wrote on her Twitter page

The movement has also called for a retraction of the article, with several twitter accounts calling the article misogynistic.

In the article, researchers compiled a list of all graduating vascular surgeons. In the study, three male researchers created social accounts in order to through the doctor’s social media profiles and find the behaviors they categorized as unprofessional.

One of the authors of the study has since apologized over Twitter.

“I would like to apologize for the paper 'Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons,'" Dr. Jeff Siracuse, wrote on Twitter as a reply. “Our intent was to empower surgeons to be aware and then personally decide what may be easily available for our patients and colleagues to see about us [on] social media. However, this was clearly not the result. We realize that the definition of professionalism is rapidly changing in medicine and that we need to support our trainees and surgeons as our society changes without the appearance of judgment. We tried to look at the term professionalism through the scope of what the general population, including patients or prospective employers, might perceive in publicly available accounts. I am sorry that we made our young surgeons feel targeted and that we were judgmental” 


For years there has been conversations around gender parity in healthcare. There is still a gender gap in pay in medicine and, in some areas, in representation. According to the American Medical Association, 59% of surgery residents are male.

Pay is a factor in gender equity in the workplace. A report by Doximity, found that the average national gender gap among physicians is 24.7% in 2018. 


Twitter has increasingly become a place where doctors and medical professionals share opinions and information, often calling out bad medical information or unfair practices. 

During the coronavirus epidemic, there's been a rise in medical professionals using the platform to get across public health messages about wearing a mask and staying at home.


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