Would you judge a doctor by their appearance?

Doctors are humans first, physicians second.

If you saw your doctor in a bar or a restaurant holding a drink, would that cause you to question them?

If you saw your gynecologist on a lovely beach in Bali, wearing a bikini, would that make you rethink her competence as a physician?

I have always been told that the way doctors dress is very important to how they are perceived. Right from my first day, we were asked to wear traditional clothing, starch-white lab coats, stethoscopes and minimal makeup or hair-styling in the hospital. We are heavily discouraged from getting tattoos, piercing, hair colour or anything that could make us look unseemly. This made sense to me, we all have to maintain a certain decorum in our place of work. Right?

It is only when I saw how doctors were judged for dressing as they please OUTSIDE their space of work that I was angered.

A research paper titled ‘Prevalence of Unprofessional Social Media Content among young vascular surgeons’ was recently published by the Journal of Vascular Surgery. It defines unprofessional in two categories – clearly unprofessional behaviour, which includes HIPAA violations, being intoxicated at work and unlawful behavior with patients.

ALL ACCEPTABLE.

But it went further to define ‘seemingly‘ unprofessional behaviour as ‘Holding alcoholic drinks’, Having controversial political views’ and ‘inappropriate attire’. The researchers, which included three male doctors made FAKE social media accounts to ‘gather data’ (more like violate privacy) on the behaviour of vascular surgeons OUTSIDE the hospital. The investigators focused on recent vascular surgery residency and fellowship graduates, putting the average age of the study subjects (who did not give permission to be studied) at around 28-37 years old.

So what this study implies is – if you’re a surgeon, on holiday, which you clearly deserve because you work 7 days a week, you are not allowed to have a glass of wine or wear a bikini.

Because God forbid, how can doctors act like humans?

How are doctors allowed to have a life outside their profession?

Doctors are supposed to wear their white coats even when they swim, right?

I apologize for the sarcasm, but this is in fact what is being said. The fact that this study even got published in a reputed journal is ridiculous because journal papers are painstakingly peer-reviewed before being published. It really questions the deep rooted biases entrenched in the system.

Most of the people targeted by this study were women, and needless to say this sparked serious anger. The hashtag #MedBikini went viral on Twitter and Instagram, bringing countless women (and men!) to proudly post pictures of themselves in bikinis or other casual attire, along with the #MedBikini hashtag, in mutual support of so-called “unprofessional” behavior outside of the operating room.

We need to humanize doctors, make them more accessible to the patient. This not only is normal, but also enables a better connection and relationship with patients, and by extension, better outcomes. #MedBikini is a trend to humanize, not de-professionalize, women in a traditionally male profession. Another red flag about this highly flawed research study is that it adds ‘views about social topics’ under the umbrella of unprofessional behaviour.

A doctor’s view of controversial social topics like abortion and body-shape concerns is a strong, powerful and useful point of view. To label that as unprofessional is grossly incorrect, as it not only violates their basic rights but also serves as a downfall for society. Fortunately, the article has since been retracted for errors in the research process. But it has brought to light many deeply situated gender and race biases in the healthcare system.

On a more positive note, I am proud that the entire community (including many men) stood in solidarity with those female vascular surgeons in an effort to normalize the perceptions of doctors. Some of the posts had powerful captions like

 “Me posing in a bikini on Sunday does not dictate the quality of care you will receive from me on Monday,” said Nicole Sparks, MD, an ob-gyn in Atlanta.

“I shared my photo in solidarity with all of the women in medicine who have been told to not be too nice but also not aggressive; not be too well-dressed but not look like a slob; not act like a know-it-all but not admit uncertainty; not act too perfect but never admit that you need help,” said Yang Yang, MD, a vascular surgery resident.

I strongly and sincerely believe that we are humans first, physicians second. We take an oath to serve, and we are proud to do so, to the best of our abilities. We give our blood, sweat and tears at every step of the process.

And as I have mentioned before it gives me immense satisfaction and gratitude to be a part of this fraternity. But not at the cost of who I am as a person.

Do you agree? Do post your views in the comments!

32 Comments Add yours

  1. Dulcy Singh says:

    👍👍👍👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shruti says:

      Thank you Dulcy

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Agreeing 💯🔥.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shruti says:

      I’m glad! That’s good

      Like

  3. Era says:

    So very well written!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shruti says:

      And so true isn’t it? Thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Era says:

        Yup, true, absolutely
        Professional and personal lives are two different things
        And people forget that doctors are humans too

        Like

  4. There is a lot of pressure on doctors to look a certain way…I personally would not judge a doctor if they had tattoos etc. They are allowed to look as they please and the way a person looks shouldn’t be defined by their career choices but instead they should be judged for the actual work they do ✨💫

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Shruti says:

      I am so glad! The world needs more people like you, who only judge people by their work and not preconceived biases! Thank you🌸

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Maggie says:

    So so true! Doctors absolutely need to be humanized. Thank you for sharing!
    Maggie

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Shruti says:

      Thank you Maggie, I just read through your blog, I love it!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Concur. If it goes for one than it should be standard for all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Shruti says:

      Thank you! I agree with you completely!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Agree Shruti. Professional and personal lives are two distinct aspects. One should give the doctors their space….they are humans too with their own likes and dislikes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Shruti says:

      Absolutely! We are all allowed to have our own personal lives where we make our own choices:) thank you

      Like

  8. Hey! I truly love your articles and your work…
    So I nominated you to the Ideal Inspirational Blogger…
    Congratulations !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shruti says:

      Thank you so much, you have a lovely blog!

      Like

      1. Thank you ma’am 🙂

        Like

  9. Check my post and be a nomination for the award……

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Kripaa says:

    Awesome Shruti .. l too aim to become a doctor … you are my inspiration…. medical n writing both together… wow …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shruti says:

      Thank you Kripaa! 🌸

      Like

      1. Kripaa says:

        Having bloggers like you following my blog is my pleasure

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Shruti says:

      Best of luck with medicine!

      Like

      1. Kripaa says:

        Am 13 n surely tooo young to say

        Liked by 1 person

  11. judeitakali says:

    I guess I’d fear a shabby doctor but otherwise, no I wouldn’t. The hotter the better I say, lol

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You are absolutely correct!

    Like

  13. Karthigeyan says:

    Agreed to everything you have written. Though it would be more soothing to me if my dentist dressed as a tooth fairy while they were mercilessly pulling out my tooth. Ouch!

    Like

  14. pratzy2709 says:

    Well written. I agree with your views completely. I would find it rather cool if my doctor has a tattoo or sports a cool hairstyle. 😀

    Like

  15. sumeyatalks says:

    I am a 12th grade bio science student and I truly agree. From 11th we start our journey to crack NEET and to serve the people. After the hustle and bustle of 11th and 12th classes ( all the study pressure n etc ) we strive hard to crack the exam. Then start MBBS and then again several other degrees. The goal remains the same : *to serve the peole*. And In return if we ask for just a little freedom to be who we want to be, then where comes the problem ? I also fully agree to your point of view. 😊❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shruti says:

      Thank you! I totally agree with you

      Liked by 1 person

  16. ashishkoul says:

    Why on earth should people be bothered about what doctors wear in their personal life and how they spent their personal lives, personal and professional lives should never be mixed

    Liked by 1 person

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