- A paper in the Journal of Vascular Surgery has come under fire for suggesting it is unprofessional for health workers to post swimwear photos and photos with alcohol to social media.
- The study—which was conducted by three men using fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—has been criticized as “sexist.” Some have also even equated the methods to cyberstalking.
- The authors of the study later asked for their own paper to be retracted amid backlash, and the journal has since issued that retraction.
- Even after it was retracted, many argued that on top of the sexism, people should also take issue with the fact that the study listed discussing topics like abortion and gun control as unprofessional.
Journal Study Follows Health Professionals’ Posts
It’s no secret that many people worry about how their social media accounts may affect their job, but now, many health professionals are challenging those norms after a controversial study suggested that posting photos in a bikini is unprofessional.
That study—“Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons”—targeted 480 surgeons and found social media accounts for 235 of them. Researchers with the study then tracked the posts of those doctors in an attempt to find “either clearly unprofessional or potentially unprofessional content.”
In all, researchers said they found at least potentially unprofessional content in around a quarter of those 235 accounts.
But what researchers constituted as unprofessional ranged widely. For example, “offensive comments about colleagues/work/patients” or posts where the surgeons appeared to be drunk were deemed clearly unprofessional.
However, much more controversially, the researchers also included the display of any form of alcohol—even if just a glass of wine at a restaurant—in the potentially unprofessional category. They also included “inappropriate attire,” such as “pictures in underwear, provocative Halloween costumes, and provocative posing in bikinis/swimwear.”
The study was originally conducted in January and February 2018. It was then published online in December 2019, but it largely flew under the radar until it was published in the journal’s August 2020 edition.
According to the authors, the goal of this paper was to: “evaluate the extent of unprofessional social media content among recent vascular surgery fellows and residents.”
That’s because “it has been demonstrated that publicly available social media content may affect patient choice of physician, hospital, and medical facility.”
To conduct the study, three “screeners” created fake accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to track the surgeons. Notably, all three screeners were men, ranging from ages 28 to 37.
In its conclusion, the study warns that “young surgeons should be aware of the permanent public exposure of unprofessional content that can be accessed by peers, patients, and current/future employers.”
It also notes that neither men nor women were more likely to post unprofessional content.
Outrage From Medical Professionals
The study has received near-universal backlash from health professionals online, with many reiterating that the targeted accounts were all viewed by men using fake accounts of their own.
“They are shaming our women physician colleagues for wearing bikinis,” Mudit Chowdhary, a radiation oncology chief resident physician, said on Twitter.
Alongside that, many health professionals accused the study of employing cyberstalking tactics in its methods.
Most notably, many female medical professionals responded by using #MedBikini on social media, where they posted so-called “unprofessional” photos of themselves in bikinis.
“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 third year medical student said on Twitter. “This does not make me unprofessional or less intelligent or compassionate compared to my male colleagues.”
Many others also took a moment to criticize the notion that posting a photo next to or holding a glass of alcohol is unprofessional.
“Here I am from a social media post last summer… being inappropriate & enjoying my sangria,” Pediatric Pain Psychologist Christine Sieberg said.
Authors Ask to Retract Study
The backlash was so strong that by Friday, the authors of the study called for their own paper to be retracted.
“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,” One of the authors, Thomas Cheng, said in an apology on Twitter.
“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.”
“Also, we realize that our design had significant gender bias, particularly with men assessing the appropriateness of women’s clothing.”
“We were wrong not to have considered the inherent gender bias and have certainly learned from this experience. We will do better in the future and teach others from our experience.”
However, we were wrong not to have considered the inherent gender bias and have certainly learned from this experience. We will do better in the future and teach others from our experience.— Thomas Cheng (@twtcheng) July 24, 2020
A spokesperson for the Boston Medical Center—where six of the seven authors have ties—also called the paper “ill-conceived” and “poorly executed,” saying it “reinforces biases about professionalism and gender.”
Following that, the journal issued a statement retracting the article and apologizing for unconscious bias.
Criticism Against Paper’s View on Political Issues
Even after the study was retracted, some health professionals expressed additional concern. That’s because while the focus on sexism was the main narrative of the outrage, they worried that another controversial line in the article was being glossed over.
Specifically, the authors of the study flagged politically-charged issues such as abortion and gun control as being potentially unprofessional topics, labelling them “controversial social comments.”
“While people were rightfully incensed about the sexism inherent in saying posing in swimwear and provocative clothing was unprofessional,” medical student Stephanie Quainoo said, “little attention was paid to the fact that metrics included under potentially unprofessional behavior included: controversial political comments, controversial social topics and controversial religious comments.”
“Professionalism is often used to police the speech of trainees and professionals, to quiet dissenting opinions, and protect the images of institutions when they are called out for wrongdoing,” she added.
The recent article in the Journal of Vascular Surgery opened the floor for conversations about what it means to be unprofessional in medicine. And while people were rightfully incensed about the sexism inherent in saying posing in swimwear and provocative clothing was— Stephanie Quainoo (@stephquainoo) July 26, 2020
Some have also made sure to note that both gun control and abortion are healthcare issues.
Agree focus on bikinis wasn’t best way to resist, but article didn’t just call out bathing suits. #BLM likely fell under the “controversial” political or social comments, and doctors speaking out re: abortion & gun control (which are both healthcare issues) were called out, too. pic.twitter.com/ExxUUtIEBN— Naomi Wagner (@Naomi_CGC) July 26, 2020
See what others are saying: (The Boston Globe) (CNN) (Daily Dot)
Florida Breaks Its Record for New Daily COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations
The Sunshine State now accounts for 20% of all new COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Florida Becomes COVID Epicenter
Florida reported 10,207 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Sunday, marking its largest single-day count to date. The grim record comes just one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that the state had counted 21,683 new infections Friday, its highest record of daily cases since the start of the pandemic.
Florida has become the new epicenter of the most recent U.S. outbreaks driven by the delta variant. The state now accounts for one out of every five new cases, and the weekend numbers are highly significant because they surpass previous records that were logged before vaccines were readily available.
Notably, Florida’s vaccination rate is actually the exact same as the nationwide average of 49% fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times tracker. In fact, Florida’s rate is the highest among the top 10 states currently reporting the most COVID cases.
While Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has encouraged Florida residents to get vaccinated, he and the state’s legislature have also made it much harder for local officials to enforce protections to mitigate further spread.
DeSantis Bars Masking in Schools
On the same day that the state reported its highest cases ever, DeSantis signed an executive order banning school districts from requiring students to wear a mask when they go back to school later this month.
The move directly contradicts guidance issued by the CDC last week, which recommended that everyone inside K-12 schools wear a face covering.
DeSantis, for his part, has repeatedly claimed the spikes are part of “seasonal” increases driven by more people being indoors and air-conditioning systems circulating the virus. Still, he argued also Friday that he did not think masks were necessary to prevent children from transmitting COVID in the classroom, where they are inside with air conditioning.
At the same time, last week, Florida reported more than 21,000 infections among children younger than 19.
Florida is not the only state that has banned schools from requiring masks. In fact, many of the states suffering the biggest spikes have done the same, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas — which all currently rank among the top 10 states with the highest per capita COVID cases.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (Axios)
Biden to Mandate COVID Vaccines for Federal Workers as CDC Changes Masking Guidance
News of the efforts came on the same day that the U.S. reported more than 100,000 new daily COVID cases for the first time since February.
Federal Vaccine Mandate
President Joe Biden will announce Thursday that all federal employees must get vaccinated against COVID-19 or consent to strict testing and other safety precautions, White House officials told reporters Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, Biden said he was considering the requirement but did not provide any more information.
While the officials also said the details are still being hashed out, they did note that the policy would be similar to ones recently put in place by California and New York City, which respectively required state and city workers to get the jab or submit to regular testing.
Also on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their guidelines to recommend that Americans who live in areas “of substantial or high transmission,” as well as all students and teachers, wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status.
Delta Causes Spikes, But Vaccines Still Prove Effective
The renewed COVID mitigation efforts come as the delta variant is driving massive surges all over the country.
Coronavirus cases have quadrupled throughout July, jumping from a weekly average of 11,799 on the first day of the month to 63,248 on Tuesday, according to The New York Times tracker. Tuesday also saw new daily infections topping 100,000 for the first time since February, with more than 108,000 reported, per The Times.
While the vast majority of new infections are among people who have not been vaccinated, there have also been increasing reports of breakthrough cases in people who have received the jab.
Those cases, however, do not mean that the vaccines are not effective.
No vaccine prevents 100% of infections. Health officials have said time and time again that the jabs are intended to prevent severe disease and death, and they are doing just that.
According to the most recent data for July 19, the CDC reported that only 5,914 of the more than 161 million Americans who have gotten the vaccine were hospitalized or died from COVID-19 — a figure that represents 0.0036% of vaccinated people.
While safety precautions may be recommended for some people who have received the vaccine, many media narratives have overstated the role breakthrough cases play in the recent spikes. As New York Magazine explains, it is imperative to understand these new mask recommendations are not happening because the vaccine is not effective, but because not enough people are getting the vaccine.
“Because breakthrough infections have so often made the news due to their novelty, that can create a perception of more cases than are actually happening — particularly without more robust tracking of the actual cases to provide context,” the outlet wrote.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNBC)
Wisconsin Police Deny Planting Evidence in Viral Video, Release Their Own Body Cam Footage
The footage police released shows that during a search, officers found a corner tear from a plastic bag inside a backseat passenger’s pocket. An officer then discarded it into the car after determining that it was empty.
Viral Video Appears To Show Officer Planting Evidence
The Caledonia Police Department in Wisconsin has responded to a viral cell phone video that appears to show an officer planting a small plastic baggie inside of a car during a traffic stop.
The now-viral footage was posted to Facebook by a man who goes by GlockBoy Savoo.
The user, who also filmed the clip, wrote in his post’s caption that the officer did this “just to get a reason to search the car” and said the cop didn’t know he was being recorded by the passenger.
Police Shut Down Accusations With Their Own Footage
After that video spread across social media, many were outraged, calling the Caledonia police dirty for seemingly planting evidence. All the outrage eventually prompted the department to announce an investigation Saturday.
Within hours, the department provided an update, claiming that officers didn’t actually plant any evidence or do anything illegal.
Police shared a lengthy summary of events, along with two body camera clips from the incident. That statement explained that the driver of the vehicle was pulled over for going 63 in a 45mph zone.
Two passengers in the backseat who were then spotted without seatbelts were asked to identify themselves and step out of the car. During a search of one passenger’s pockets, an officer pulled out “an empty corner tear” from a plastic baggie.
Police claim the corner tear did not contain any illegal substances, though they said this type of packaging is a common method for holding illegal drugs.
In one body cam clip, an officer can be heard briefly questioning the backseat passenger about the baggie. Then, that piece of plastic gets handed off to different officers who also determined it as empty before the officer in the original viral video discarded it into the back of the car.
The officer can also be seen explaining where the plastic came from to the passenger recording him.
“Aye, bro you just threw that in here!” the front seat passenger says, as heard in his version of the events.
“Yeah, cause it was in his pocket and I don’t want to hold onto it. It’s on their body cam that they took it off of him…I’m telling you where it came from, so. It’s an empty baggie at the moment too, so,” the officer replies.
The department went on to explain that while it would discourage officers from discarding items into a citizen’s car, this footage proves that evidence was not planted.
Authorities also noted that no arrests were made in this incident and the driver was the only one issued a citation for speeding. The statement added that since four officers were present at the scene, police have more than six hours of footage to review but they promised to release the footage in full in the near future.