Bioethics Blogs

What’s Laremy Tunsil Got To Do With It? Professionalism, Social Media, and Medical Education

By Mark Kuczewski

On April 28, 2016, ten minutes before the NFL draft of college players was to begin, the Twitter account of Laremy Tunsil of the University of Mississippi, displayed a video of him wearing a gas mask and smoking from a bong.  Mr. Tunsil was a talented prospect widely believed about to become the second player drafted.  He had done an imprudent action at some point and, allegedly, a hacker made the video record available to the world.  A panic swept through the NFL executives making selections for their teams.  Mr. Tunsil was not selected second as predicted but was passed over until the Miami Dolphins took him with the number thirteen pick in the draft.  Because higher draft picks receive larger contracts than those drafted later, commentators estimate that the drop in draft rank likely cost Mr. Tunsil at least $8,000,000…

This scenario captures the imagination of everyone who has been interested in how social media impacts our current concern with professionalism in medical education and health care.  Most medical schools have seen photos/videos of students engaging in behavior incompatible with a professional image or learned of imprudently posted comments about clinical experiences.  I believe that we as educators and health-care professionals can learn three things from the case of Laremy Tunsil that might inform our efforts in medical schools to devise meaningful policies and to educate students and trainees appropriately.

First, we must strike a balance between enforcing standards of professionalism and stewarding the talent available to medicine.  Those teams that passed over Mr.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.