To Peace (Professionally)

While some physicians are genuinely interesting people with outside interests who know how to live, laugh, and tell a dirty joke, way too many remain nerdy, navel-gazing, self-important twerps.  

So it’s no surprise when a medical publication becomes a guidebook for celebrating one’s inner sanctimony, and trying to pass it on to those who might otherwise be borderline tolerable.

“The Journal of Vascular Surgery published a study titled ‘Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons,’ which sought to ‘evaluate the extent of unprofessional social media among recent vascular surgery fellows and residents.’ The study argued that such ‘publicly available social media content’ may affect future patients’ choice of physician or medical facility.”  While the premise is certainly reasonable, it must have been a twisted, self-loathing nag of an author to sit up on late, dateless nights to conjure up this dour finger wag. 

“Specifically, this ‘potentially unprofessional’ content included holding or consuming alcohol and wearing ‘inappropriate attire’ such as bikinis and swimwear, as well as using profanity and discussing controversial political, religious or social topics online.”  Well shit, the last time I was bubbling in my jacuzzi with a pitcher of martinis and a Romeo y Julieta Cabinet Reserve, it was all I could do not to become enraged that no one was posting my picture to Facebook while I was expounding on why “body positivity” kills people, why we deserve to suffer the final chapters of Atlas Shrugged, and how any noise produced by Katy Perry is a sign of the End Times.  But I’m not, strictly speaking, controversial.

And yes, I otherwise think anyone putting any of their personal business on social media deserves whatever ill fate results from it.  But does some poor post-surgical resident fellow need these dried up scolds hiding behind their white coats and a collapsing legacy to pile on?  We have seen for many years (especially THIS one) how worthless doctors can be when they are NOT controversial.  When George Clooney can be taken seriously over Darfur, or the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases can flap his gums about urban social policy, then why the hell shouldn’t younger, more cutting-edge professionals be able to trumpet their stray thoughts? 

These wretched schoolmarms even “created ‘neutral’ profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to scan the social media feeds of young vascular surgeons to investigate.”  To quote James Bond in “From Russia With Love”: “That must have been a pretty sick collection of minds to dream up a plan like that.”  Indeed.

Some younger docs immediately jumped on this, accusing the study of being sexist.  One critic said the researchers were “shaming our women physician colleagues for wearing bikinis.”  Another said, “Enjoying a mimosa in a bathing suit does not change my commitment to my career or to my patients. Physicians deserve to enjoy life too.”  Amen, sister!

Now in fairness to the topic, and as an art lover, I did inspect some of the submitted bikini photos, and they did not make me think of surgery (the old dude at the end was clearly thrown in to keep the feminists happy.  Burlesque often had comedic interludes).

Our profession has given away so much of the farm, I’ve less and less sympathy for contrived outrage over “professionalism” off the job.  If you want to party, shake it, and document it, then I say go for it!  And if your new male consults come in and can’t stop smiling…that’s on you.

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Pat Conrad MD

Pat Conrad is a full-time rural ER doc on the Florida Gulf Coast. After serving as a carrier naval flight officer, he graduated from the University of Florida College of Medicine, and the Tallahassee Family Medicine residency program. His commentary has appeared in Medical Economics and at AuthenticMedicine.com . Conrad’s work stresses individual freedom and autonomy as the crucial foundation for medical excellence, is wary of all collective solutions, and recognizes that the vast majority of poisonous snakebites are concurrent with alcohol consumption. 

  5 comments for “To Peace (Professionally)

  1. arf
    August 3, 2020 at 11:38 pm

    This reminds me of a site you should know.
    https://retractionwatch.com/
    https://retractionwatch.com/2010/08/03/why-write-a-blog-about-retractions/

    Scientific papers get retracted often enough to justify a website to catalogue them.

    Give it a look.

  2. arf
    August 3, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    The retracted paper. I noticed all but one of the authors show a Boston University affiliation.
    Yes, Heaven forbid a physician get involved with controversial political matters.
    Like Colonial independence from Great Britain.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Warren

  3. arf
    August 3, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    I’m a little upset over the bikini/lifestyle thing, that anyone would express concern over the “professionalism” of a doctor who is off duty.

    I’m amused about the concern over the use of profanity. I had to look again, this is a SURGICAL journal???

    But I am a LOT upset, bordering on outrage, to read that anyone with any power and influence in medicine, thinks “discussing controversial political, religious or social topics online”, is a matter of concern to any professional ethics board.

  4. Jay Cooperman
    August 2, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    We should by all means have interesting, fulfilling lives outside of our professional pursuits, and not be afraid to share our passions with patients. The feedback I’ve had from patients says they appreciate knowing that we have a personality and a life outside of medicine. That makes us more credible as human beings. The repercussions to oversharing should be obvious to anyone with a frontal lobe, so where to draw the line should be up to each of us to decide. This is still a free country, right?

  5. Rando
    August 1, 2020 at 11:26 am

    Looks like the article has been retracted. What’s on social media is fair game and physicians should be aware employers might look at Facebook profiles, etc. But this “study” took it a step too far judging and scolding the young physicians for what seems like pretty typical behavior. You have to wonder about people that would come up with and approve such a study.

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