- 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- Even after it was retracted, many argued that on top of the sexism, people should also take issue with the fact that the study listed discussing topics like abortion and gun control as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)
Lincoln College to Close for Good After COVID and Ransomware Attack Ruin Finances
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.
One of the Only Historically Black Colleges in the Midwest Goes Down
After 157 years of educating mostly Black students in Illinois, Lincoln College will close its doors for good on Friday.
The college made the announcement last month, citing financial troubles caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a ransomware attack in December.
Enrollment dropped during the pandemic and the administration had to make costly investments in technology and campus safety measures, according to a statement from the school.
A shrinking endowment put additional pressure on the college’s budget.
The ransomware attack, which the college has said originated from Iran, thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data. Systems for recruitment, retention, and fundraising were completely inoperable at a time when the administration needed them most.
In March, the college paid the ransom, which it has said amounted to less than $100,000. But according to Lincoln’s statement, subsequent projections showed enrollment shortfalls so significant the college would need a transformational donation or partnership to make it beyond the present semester.
The college put out a request for $50 million in a last-ditch effort to save itself, but no one came forward to provide it.
A GoFundMe aiming to raise $20 million for the college only collected $2,452 as of Tuesday.
Students and Employees Give a Bittersweet Goodbye
“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.
Lincoln counts nearly 1,000 enrolled students, and those who did not graduate this spring will leave the institution without degrees.
Gerlach has said that 22 colleges have worked with Lincoln to accept the remaining students, including their credits, tuition prices, and residency requirements.
“I was shocked and saddened by that news because of me being a freshman, so now I have to find someplace for me to go,” one student told WMBD News after the closure was announced.
When a group of students confronted Gerlach at his office about the closure, he responded with an emotional speech.
“I have been fighting hard to save this place,” he said. “But resources are resources. We’ve done everything we possibly could.”
On April 30, alumni were invited back to the campus to revisit the highlights of their college years before the institution closed.
On Saturday, the college held its final graduation ceremony, where over 200 students accepted their diplomas and Quentin Brackenridge performed the Lincoln Alma Mater.
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Herald Review) (CNN)
U.S. Tops One Million Coronavirus Deaths, WHO Estimates 15 Million Worldwide
India’s real COVID death toll stands at about 4.7 million, ten times higher than official data, the WHO estimated.
One Million Dead
The United States officially surpassed one million coronavirus deaths Wednesday, 26 months after the first death was reported in late February of 2020.
Experts believe that figure is likely an undercount, since there are around 200,000 excess deaths, though some of those may not be COVID-related.
The figure is the equivalent of the population of San Jose, the tenth-largest city in the U.S., vanishing in just over two years. To put the magnitude in visual perspective, NECN published a graphic illustrating what one million deaths looks like.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the White House predicted between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans would die from the coronavirus in a best-case scenario.
By February 2021, over half a million Americans had died of COVID.
The coronavirus has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.
The pandemic’s effects go beyond its death toll. Around a quarter of a million children have lost a caregiver to the virus, including about 200,000 who lost one or both parents. Every COVID-related death leaves an estimated nine people grieving.
The virus has hit certain industries harder than others, with food and agriculture, warehouse operations and manufacturing, and transportation and construction seeing especially high death rates.
People’s mental health has also been affected, with a study in January of five Western countries including the U.S. finding that 13% of people reported symptoms of PTSD attributable to actual or potential contact with the virus.
Fifteen Million Dead
On Thursday, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly 15 million people have died from the pandemic worldwide, a dramatic revision from the 5.4 million previously reported in official statistics.
Between January 2020 and the end of last year, the WHO estimated that between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people died either due to the coronavirus directly or because of factors somehow attributed to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, such as cancer patients who were unable to seek treatment when hospitals were full of COVID patients.
Based on that range, scientists arrived at an approximate total of 14.9 million.
The new estimate shows a 13% increase in deaths than is usually expected for a two-year period.
“This may seem like just a bean-counting exercise, but having these WHO numbers is so critical to understanding how we should combat future pandemics and continue to respond to this one,” Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious diseases specialist at the Yale School of Public Health who was not linked to the WHO research, told the Associated Press.
Most of the deaths occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
According to the WHO, India counts the most deaths by far with 4.7 million, ten times its official number.
See what others are saying: (NBC) (U.S. News and World Report) (Scientific American)
Official Says Missing Alabama Convict and Corrections Officer Had a “Special Relationship”
Authorities have also said they now believe the officer willfully helped the inmate escape.
New Information on Missing Inmate & Officer
Authorities in Alabama revealed Tuesday that Assistant Director of Corrections for Lauderdale County Vicky White, who is accused of helping a murder suspect Casey Cole White escape from jail, had a “special relationship” with the inmate.
“Investigators received information from inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Center over the weekend that there was a special relationship between Director White and inmate Casey White,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said in a statement. “That relationship has now been confirmed through our investigation by independent sources and means.”
Officials have previously said that the two are not related, despite their shared surname.
Singleton elaborated on the nature of the relationship while speaking to CNN later on Tuesday. He said it took place “outside of her normal work hours” and added that although it did not include “physical contact,” he still characterized it as “a relationship of a different nature.”
“We were told Casey White got special privileges and was treated differently while in the facility than the other inmates,” Singleton said.
Also on Tuesday, the Marshals Service issued a statement confirming that authorities believe Officer White had helped Mr. White escape. The authorities described her as a “wanted fugitive” and offered a $5,000 reward for any information on her whereabouts. Earlier this week, the Marshals Service also offered a $10,000 reward for any information that could lead to Mr. White’s capture.
Singleton echoed the belief that Officer White’s actions were intentional while speaking to Good Morning America Wednesday.
“I think all of our employees and myself included were really hoping that she did not participate in this willingly. But all indications are that she absolutely did,” he said. “We’re very disappointed in that because we had the utmost trust in her as an employee and as an assistant director of corrections.”
Vicky White and Casey White were last seen leaving the Lauderdale County jail just after 9:30 a.m. Friday. The officer told other employees that she was taking the inmate to a mental health evaluation at a courthouse just down the road, and that she would be going to a medical appointment after because she was not feeling well.
Officials later said her actions violated an official policy that required two sworn deputies to transport people with murder charges. In 2020, Mr. White was charged with two counts of capital murder in connection to a fatal stabbing he confessed to and was awaiting his trial in Lauderdale County.
Mr. White was also serving time for what officials said was a “crime spree” in 2015 which included home invasion, carjacking, and a police chase. He had also previously tried to escape from jail, police said.
It wasn’t until 3:30 p.m. on Friday that a jail employee reported to higher-ups that he was not able to reach Officer White on her phone and that Mr. White had never been returned to his cell.
During a press conference that same night, Singleton told reporters that there had never even been a scheduled mental health evaluation. At another briefing Monday, he announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Vicky on a charge of “permitting or facilitating an escape in the first degree.”
At the time, Singleton said it was unclear “whether she did that willingly or was coerced or threatened” but added, “we know for sure she did participate.”