Physician Outlook

Female Physicians Publicly Defend their Professionalism via #MedBikini Posts

Physician #MedBikini posts go viral after sexist Journal of Vascular Surgery article is retracted

We know that the media is biased, but shouldn’t we be able to trust articles that make it into Medical Journals?  The answer in 2020, is apparently “no.” 


Early in the summer of 2020, two previously well-respected and prestigious medical journals, The Lancet and The New England Journal Of Medicine retracted two articles that contained apparently falsified data from a little known company named Surgisphere. The Lancet article is particularly troublesome to me, as it raised alarms about the safety of anti-malarial drugs in the treatment of Covid-19. The World Health Organization reacted to this article by pausing enrollment in all studies that used hydroxychloroquine.  Although rigorous data is still lacking, there is a plethora of anecdotal evidence from across the world that shows that this medication (which in vitro is known to be a zinc ionophore and stops viral replication) is very safe and may  have an important OUTPATIENT role in slowing down disease progression and preventing hospitalizations.  


As I have previously written about, I am biased, as I took the medication and I credit it with perhaps  keeping my daughter from needing to be hospitalized when she herself was diagnosed with Covid-19 in early March of 2020. I am in frequent communication with a private physician (Dr. Stella Immanuel) in Houston Texas who to date has successfully treated almost 300 Covid19 positive patients (many of whom are very clinically symptomatic)  with mefloquine or hydroxychloroquine.  She reports that she is saving lives and avoiding hospitalizations.  I never thought that as a physician I would come to rely more on Dr. Immanuel’s Twitter feed or random doctors’ websites than on my textbooks and journals for medical advice and guidance, but we are apparently living in strange times. 


What prompted me to write this article you are reading? 


The answer: ‘Hashtag MedBikini’ (#MedBikini).


Haven’t heard about this viral trend? 


Well, let me educate you---just in case you have been living under a rock, or perhaps too depressed to watch the news or peruse social media over the past few days you may not be aware of the existence of “#medbikini.” 


Apparently not wanting to be leave the prestigious company of the Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine, the once-esteemed Journal of Vascular Surgery decided to retract a manuscript it had accepted for its August 2020 publication entitled  “Prevalence of Unprofessional Social Media Content Among Young Vascular Surgeons.”   The article attempted to identify what the (predominantly white male) authors considered “unprofessional” and “inappropriate’ behavior by young (ages 30-35) vascular surgeons with the purported goal of discouraging any behavior that could have a negative impact on patients’ respect for physicians.


Their methodology involved the use of  investigators (also all male medical professionals, ages 28-37) who created fake social media accounts which they used to basically stalk the Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts of young vascular surgeons (mostly female). 


Google the term “#medBikini” and you will find thousands of pictures of outraged female (and in solidarity, some male) physicians dressed in bathing suits, wearing ‘provocative’ Halloween costumes and (gasp) enjoying a cocktail.  


News flash, people.  Physicians are HUMAN. Yes, we save lives. Yes, we spend nearly a third of our lives becoming doctors.  


But guess what, we also like going to the beach. We like to swim in bathing suits. We go to concerts. We enjoy cocktails. Many of us are proud of our bodies, our work-out routines, our work-life balance, our families, and our extra-curricular activities.  


What this manuscript revealed in spades is the very pervasive and disgusting problem of SEXISM.  


These authors unfairly targeted young female surgeons, who already face an uphill battle in a career path that has always been dominated by men. 


Dr. Megan Frost Babb wrote a very timely article “Sexism in Health Care: Female Physicians Share Their Stories”  that chronicles the extent of the harassment and sexism that women in medicine face on a daily basis. She tells women’s stories brick-by-brick, with a goal of tearing that brick wall down once and for good.


Sexism has to stop. Period. End of story. If it takes a social media movement such as “#medBikini” or “#SexyScientist” to shine a light on the problem, so be it.  


Thankfully, the authors have apologized and The Journal Of Vascular Surgery has retracted the manuscript.  


If we can’t trust The Journal of Vascular Surgery, The Lancet or The New England Journal of Medicine, which sources can we trust? 


Trust Physician Outlook.  


It’s the only magazine FOR physicians, BY physicians.  Keep your stories and pictures coming.


Join the movement and share YOUR own  #FemalePhysician, #Shero, #MedBikini, #HumanDoctor and/or #SexyScientist pictures and thoughts. We are an all-inclusive publication, and value your opinions and thoughts.


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