A recent study led by Scott Hardouin and Thomas Cheng reported on how unprofessionalism in social media can impact a patient’s choice of doctors and medical facilities (read the study here). They hoped to expose the risks of using social media in the medical field. To conduct their study, the men created fake social media accounts to examine physician’s posts. Using a group of surgeon fellows and residents, the study produced the following results: out of 235 public accounts, more than one quarter contained unprofessional content. What caused a spur among many doctors was that the criteria for unprofessional content included posts of doctors in swimsuits.
Many doctors lashed back by posting pictures in bikinis and swimsuits. Male doctors showed their support by also posting swimwear pictures of themselves.
Many argued that a bikini picture should not determine the professionalism of a doctor. Even though doctors spend many years studying, their outfits outside the workplace should not impact their skills. In fact, doctor Dr. Candice Myhre spotted someone on the beach suffering hemopneumothorax, so she rushed him to a hospital to treat him… all while she was still wearing her swimsuit.
"We can wear a bikini, a dress, or we can wear scrubs. This does not change how good we are at being a healthcare provider. We can wear whatever we want on our free time and still save a life.
Since then, the authors of the study apologized and the Journal of Vascular Study immediately
retracted the article. The journal admitted to the bias in the researchers’ analysis and the poor method of data collection. Although the researchers may have had good intentions in publishing their findings, the study had too much implicit bias.