Wednesday, January 04, 2006

From PhD to Doctor

It’s inescapable. The question every PhD faces after she tells someone what she does.

“So what do you want to do with that?” Pause. “Teach?” or Pause. “And you’ll be in that program forever won’t you?”

But the other day I had a new question—someone asked me not only what I wanted to do with my degree, but what that degree actually was. It was with a doorwoman in my building. I had decided to chat with her before heading into the elevator. She asked what I was studying, and after I responded asked me to further explain. I said it was an academic degree that took at least five years, would qualify me to teach at a university, and earn me the title of “Doctor.” She then asked if I would be teaching medicine. When I told her I was focusing on history she asked if it was the history of medicine. And when I responded that no, it was the history of American cities in the 20th century, she asked why it was I had decided to study that? I then started on my shpeil about wanting to be a journalist when I was in college but how I felt stymied by the deadlines and never having the time to explore a subject in the depth I wanted (I’ll spare you the full extent of it here.)

The conversation got me thinking about titles, and whether academics shouldn’t have one that’s different from the one assigned those who go through medical school, internships and residencies. Of course, the degrees are different—M.D. vs. PhD. But somehow the salutation ends up being the same. Does it have something to do with the length of time that academic graduate students are in school before they earn their degree? It’s longer than for other degrees such as MBAs or JDs, but still far shorter than the length of time doctors had to spend learning how to diagnose disease. And no matter how much bombastic prose I might drum up to explain what I do (or aspire to do)—“shaping young minds” just doesn’t sound as crucial as “saving lives.”

I’m not trying to downplay the work of the PhD candidate. In fact I think it might be psychologically debilitating for me to do so since I’m spending at least five years of my life on it. But maybe the PhD should confer a title other than “Dr.” There’s Professor—but somehow after getting used to students calling professors doctors, it doesn’t seem like enough!


Anonymous Rocinante2112 said...

What do you mean, "far shorter than the time spent learning how to diagnose disease?" A Ph.D. generally takes longer than an MD to complete, and even though most MDs who want to practice have to do residency, etc., they are called "Dr." right after their 4 year degree.

I am a recent Ph.D. working in industry. I am struggling with how to deal with people who use the salutation "Mr." with me. I find it offensive only when they should know better. But because not all Ph.D.s are called "Dr." I wonder if it is rude to correct these people?

9:23 AM  
Blogger justin said...

I work with academics and am currenty pursuing a graduate degree. I believe it is rude to correct people. Most academics are very interesting and intelligent people. However, it's simply a formality In a classroom environment, it is not at all out of line to expect to be respected and held in slightly higher esteem for your talents and contributions to your field of study. Outside of your working environment, you're just another working person IMHO. No one in the laity gives a crap about one's esoteric bit of achievement.

Physicians should not be afforded much more consideration, save that the vetting process for them is more rigorous and far longer in duration (generally eight years or more to a PhD's 6-8), and their skills are much higher than the average PhD in terms of comparable worth. Where you are a researcher or pedagogue, a physician saves peoples' lives, which in most cultures is something afforded a degree of reverance.

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are you guys on about? Look at the history of the title "Doctor". It is given to anyway who has completed original research at an establishe institute. The title was only adopted much later by medical graduates. Moreover, taking into account undergraduate studies and a PhD takes a minimum (in the UK) of 6-7 years. A medical degree takes 6 max.

Quite frankly people with PhDs are MORE entitled to use the title. The medical doctor is only honarary.

In addition. My PhD is neuroscience and I work for a major drug company that does front line research for medicine. So without us...medical doctors cant do much without life saving drugs that scientists (most PhD's) research/produce/manufacture. So is it all just medics who really saves lifes?

7:09 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

As another neuroscience PhD just beginning her postdoc, I have to argue with the idea that the vetting process for medical doctors is more rigorous. For most, after you complete your graduate degree, which does take longer than medical school 90% of the time, a postdoc is necessary before getting a permanent job. Not to mention the fact that there are far fewer professors than there are medical doctors. In addition, not all medical doctors are saving lives, in fact most of them are not. And I don't mean any disrespect by this as I don't believe that saving lives is the only way to add value to a community.

Personally, I am sick of this argument as PhDs and MDs are different degrees with different goals and I think we need to step back from comparing them all time just because they both come with the title Dr.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Titles... *snorts*
Well that Doctor label in front of my name does come useful when I need to discuss a loan with my banker (who probably believes I'm a medical doctor, eh... Not that I will correct his mistake, them MD make more money than I do as a researcher!) or convince some estate agent I don't need my references to be checked, but quite frankly, apart from that, if it comes to assessing the professional skills of a person, they really don't mean shit.

I would have thought supposedly educated people like you fellow PhDs, who have been in academia for a while (and probably experienced dealing with both skilled and unskilled colleagues), would know that, by now.

3:42 AM  
Anonymous DrDino said...

?? From PhD to Doctor ???

Hey, wait a minute.
A PhD is a real Doctor. The MD degree is a lower degree than a PhD. The MD degree is more like a Masters degree. PhDs were Doctors when it was the barbers who decided they should be called MDs. The MD/DO/DCs are more rightly called 'physicians.'

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This link bears posting:

Indeed, medical doctorates are somewhat younger than philosophical ones ;-).

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See some references from Wikipeida:
A & C Black also note that British surgeons - a designation reserved for those who have obtained membership of the Royal College of Surgeons - are addressed as Mr, Mrs or Miss rather than Dr. This custom has been commented on in the British Medical Journal and may stem from the historical origins of the profession.[10]
For many years the UK's General Dental Council (GDC) regarded the use of the title doctor by dentists as a disciplinary offence; however on November 14, 1995 the GDC ruled that dentists could use the title doctor thenceforth provided that they did not do so to imply that they held qualifications that they did not possess.[11]
PhD deserve better to have Title Dr than MDs.

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This door woman probably got all her education from television. Education of this kind is mainly visual, so she probably associated the word "doctor" with men with white coats who carry stethoscopes.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Brendon said...

Who cares? Titles are just important to people with low self esteem (this includes MDs too). We're all destine to die. Call yourself whatever you want in the meantime.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doctorae comes from the Latin "to teach". MDs don't teach...they practice the art of medicine. PhDs mostly teach...and I see they deserve the title of "doctor" much more so than physicians.

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a recent PhD and I also have the dylemma whether I should introduce myself as Dr. or not?

When comes to saving lives, I agree with one of you saying that it's not just physicians that do so.
If it wasn't for the scientists who design drugs the doctors wouldn't have nothing to save the lives with.
I do cancer research, and think understand cancer better than any doctor. Maybe I am not saving lives at the moment but maybe the work I am doing with help someone in the majhor discovery someday.

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Brendon said...

This varies from region to region. In Germany, physicians can not use the title "doctor" unless they possess a research doctoral degree (equiv to a PhD) on top of their medical degrees. In UK and commonwealth, titles for PhD and MBBS (there is no MD in these countries apart from the rare higher doctorates) are held and used both socially and professionally. Post nominals are rarely used in these countries - that seems to be an American thing (I think it's a good idea). If you're a physician you're a doctor, if you're a PhD you're a doctor. Nobody worries too much, they just get on with their job.

1:24 AM  
Anonymous Eric said...

I know this post is old, but it seems like a lot of you PhD's are a little insecure regarding your "status" in the hierarchy of degrees. An MD is a professional degree. The person who compared it to a Master's Degree is incorrect. The person who mentioned that MD's do not teach is also incorrect (MD's often teach at medical schools/graduate schools and at hospitals as attending physicians).

A person with an MD is referred to as a doctor (I don't hear anyone calling someone "Physician Jones"). Face it, saving lives is always going to take precedence over research regarding prestige in the public eye. If you got a PhD because you want people to call you doctor, then you have some issues. Research, especially scientific research, is important and will always be important, but it's not in the NOW. It always involves working toward something - a cure, a solution, etc. Saving lives happens on a daily basis. To the poster who says he/she thinks he/she understands a disease more than a doctor - of course you probably do! Your daily job is researching THAT specific disease! Do you know how that disease interacts with other conditions? Can you treat other conditions? Do you know how the body works as a whole? Can you take a patient's history and symptoms and make a correct diagnosis? NO.

Those with PhD's don't "deserve" to be called doctor more so than someone with an MD degree. How narcissistic! They are both doctorates, but tend to lead people in different paths.

Geez. Get over yourselves.

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the US Department of Education, the MD is an "Entry-Level" Degree. Whereas a PhD is the "highest academic degree." They continue on by saying (with regards to a first professional degree such as an MD):

"these degrees do not contain an independent research component or require a dissertation (thesis) and should not be confused with PhD degrees or other research doctorates."

So, according to the US Department of Education, the utmost authority on this subject in the U.S., the first professional degrees are ranked lower in the education hierarchy than PhD degrees.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Physicians should not be afforded much more consideration, save that the vetting process for them is more rigorous ...".

I am a Ph.D. on the faculty of a medical school, which means that I am part of that vetting process. How can it be that I deserve to be called "Dr." less than a physician, when my job is to decide who gets to be a physician?
Indeed, I teach physicians how to diagnose disease (if response to above comment).

What I have found to be interesting is that there are 2 types of physicians. Those that question whether I should be called "Dr." are usually those in private practice who have never published an article in a medical journal (I've published 10). In contrast, physicians at teaching hospitals, who also do medical research, have never hesitated to call me "Dr.". In fact, one physician I know refers to a Ph.D. as a "doctor's doctor".

3:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone had said,
No one calls "Physician Smith".

Does that mean he should be called Dr.Smith?

Why should we? Does he teach/ can he teach the things he discovered in the universe?

Or else he is a predator of the researchers?

To be called a Doctor, he/she should be able to teach the things he discovered out of the universe.

Accept the truth of stealing the name of Dr by physicians in Edinburgh university in 18th century. God Bless!

Predators are not called Doctors. Its only

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only the MDs, even the people who just have the bachelors (MBBS) use the title "Dr", which is Ridiculous.

Why can't they just introduce themselves as "I'm Mr. Smith, a physician"

Its a matter of stealing the tiles, with a lower level of education.

One other thing is "Saving lives". Never mind you may be saving the lives of the whole world NOW. Can you pls tell me the relation between the "Saving lives" and the title of "Dr".
Just because you are saving the lives doesnt make you a doctor.

If you want to be called a doctor, please discover something in the universe that will help the whole universe, rather than curing individuals. The title "Dr" reserves for that kind of people. They think like a "Dr"

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A bunch of pompous elites discussing their true love, self.

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7:53 AM  
Anonymous dr said...

PhD means "DOCTOR of Philosophy". Easy isn't it?

As for saving lives, the army, police and people on the street also save lives. Are we going to determine the entitlement of the title "Dr" based on the physical act of saving lives? What has Doctor (doctoris=teacher)has to do with the physical act of saving lives?

Let us not discount the discoveries made by real doctors (PhDs) which have contributed to our advanced and civilised existence (which includes saving lives as well as making the world a better place).

People with medical BASIC DEGREES such as MBBS and the confusingly called MD should find other titles such as MP (Medical Practitioner) or LS (Life Saver) or Physician.


8:52 AM  
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5:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Use the 'Dr.' title in formal situations where you would have normally used 'Mr.' or 'Mrs.' Before getting the PhD, did you go around introducing yourself as 'City Girl' or Ms. 'City Girl'?

I have a PhD in Business and do some adjunct teaching at a local college. In the classroom, I use Dr. When meeting other parents at my kids' birthday parties, I am Jim. If I find it advantageous to use the Dr. title in business situations, then I might use it there also.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thought I have about this topic is: Do PhDs in a field say english or sociology deserve the title of Doctor of Philosophy? It would seem more fitting to call them Doctor of Letters, Doctor of Literature, etc, etc.

Knowing numerous PhDs, I do not see any sense of them knowing, practicing, teaching, or espousing any sort of philosophy.

6:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.

I am a medical doctor. But aside from the societal benefit of being called Dr, the title itself means very little.

Ultimately any profession arguably contributes to society and to "the universe". As an example, when a kid is hit by a car a first-aider might happen to be present. When the first-aider has reached the limit of their competence they call the paramedic - who takes the kid to a doctor. But if the bed isn't cleaned, the kid can't be seen, so it's the cleaner that's saving the life. Or is it the receptionist that books the patient into the hospital so that blood tests/x-rays can be ordered for him? Or is it the mechanic that serviced the ambulance that took the child to hospital?

This whole debate is underpinned by what society values. Society values what they can see. Medics are in the public eye and have the most obvious contribution to society. In my personal opinion, however, pitching a doctor who sees and treats a hundred patients per week over the course of his/her career, against a guy who walks around a couple of labs researching one particular aspect of one particular topic, I know who'd I'd respect more.

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also know whom I respect more, if you base it on society values. A scientist (Ph.D.) who devotes his/her career to developing new treatments for disease that will last in perpetuity vs. an M.D. who serves to apply the treatments developed by scientists to a finite number of patients over a career. As many of my M.D. friends have told me, a Ph.D. is a doctor's doctor.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Knowing numerous PhDs, I do not see any sense of them knowing, practicing, teaching, or espousing any sort of philosophy."

That's not what Doctor of Philosophy means, that they are experts on philosophy. "There are things that are known and things that are unknown, and in between there are doors" (Jim Morrison). On one side of the door is the known. On the other side of the door is the unknown, about which we can only speculate (philosophy). It is the task of the Ph.D. to open these doors. A Ph.D. can be awarded to anyone who has shed light (through one's disseration research) on the unknown. This can be not only in hard science but also in the humanities, liberal arts, etc. Anyone who has taught (Doctor = teacher) humanity something novel.

5:50 PM  
Blogger leopold said...

MDs are doctors whether some people like it or not. Read this. Before any physician can practice, he/she is required to pass a series of exams known officially as "professional doctorate". So please, quit whining.
To the poster who brags about teaching physicians to diagnose diseases. How many surgeries have you performed? Can you even hold an MRI in the right position? Do you know how to deliver a baby or insert a Swan-Ganz catheter? Do you have any idea of how many skills MDs have? Don't flatter yourself.

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool your jets. I don't think that many, if anyone at all, in this forum are claiming that MDs are not doctors so I'm not sure what you're so bent out of shape about. Your insecurity is certainly showing. The series of exams (in the U.S.) is actually called the United States Medical Licensing Exam, not the "professional doctorate", so it's not likely you're actually a physician. As far as PhDs teaching medical students how to diagnose disease, it's a fact, whether you like it or not. And according to medical student surveys, some PhDs are actually better at it than many clerkship directors and preceptors. It is true that Ph.D.'s usually are not employed to teach medical procedures because they (unless an M.D., Ph.D.) are not licensed to perform these procedures. However, procedures account for about 10% of a medical school curriculum. Teaching medical students how to read an MRI is, on the other hand, part of my job and I do it quite well actually. I once spotted a lesion that an M.D. had missed, which is not to say that PhDs are better at reading films than MDs, but many PhDs have comparable training in that department.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous dr said...

doctor means teacher. fullstop. Its got nothing to do with a kid being hit by a car and being saved by first aiders or the "series of exams". Its just that historically scholars have been called doctors. As such, the title brings with it prestige and social standing. Medical practioners adopted or borrowed or stole the title to uplift their social standing. ref BMA meeting sometime in the 1830s, if I'm not mistaken. Anyway, to put it in a nutshell, "doctor" is an academic title, not a medical title.

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I guess Leopold doesn't think that radiologists, pathologists, internists, family medicine physicians, primary care pediatricians (I could go on) are doctors. After all, it's unlikely that any member of these specialties have performed an operation or placed a Swan-Ganz.

7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ph.D.s do original research, while M.D.s read a bunch of thick books and memorize the contents. Simple as that. I am positive 90% of M.D.s haven't publish a single research paper in their lives.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Who cares? Titles are just important to people with low self esteem..." Brendon is this forum member who posted a comment here.
Answer: clearly all that dismiss a title of doctor (phd) have no idea what a phd is and the type of people who embark on it...people are people anywhere in the world (w/ or w/o phd) but saying that people who pursue phds have low self-esteem is just ridiculous and ignorant opinion...please EDUCATE you don't need a phd to inform yourself about these great people who gave a good part of their lives TO LEARN MORE AND MORE, HAVE ALLOCATED SO MUCH TIME AND WORK TO ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS, AND WANT TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE SOCIETY...BTW, "Brendon & ALIKE" people: you don't need a high school to educate yourself about phd's people...DON'T WORRY THERE'S STILL TIME TO PURSUE IT!!!!

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

leopold, you delusional f*&k. Everything that you said is completely irrelevant. "Doctor" is someone who has a PhD. Period.

It is a shame that Americans value what they see (medical 'doctors' "saving" lives) more than what they don't (researchers winning Nobel Prizes, scientific breakthroughs, etc.). Now that I think of it, firefighters save lives as well... shall we call them 'doctors' from now on??

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a PhD Student and I can see whats the problem is all about. I personally am doing a PhD in Biomedical Sciences and I can tell you that we learn much more than students in the MD program. Moreover, PhD work is intensive and contributes to intellectual development. An MD program is excellent but involves more bookish work. About the guy who was asking whether PHD can deliver a baby or hold and MRI. Its not Doctors work to do that but physician. Delivering a baby is much more easier than HPLC or PCR.

2:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's correct. In fact, delivering a baby or any other medical procedure is easier than doing research culminating with new insight into the etiology of disease or developing a novel treatment for disease, which are both the job of the biomedical sciences PhD (although not exclusively, there are also MDs who do the same research, but most MDs simply apply what PhDs and MDs working at universities and teaching hospitals have discovered).

5:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to add another layer to the debate. I am a nurse that is almost done with a PhD in nursing. In a few months I will be a "doctor nurse".
I have been in clinical practice for 10 years as a critical care and trauma nurse. I could argue that I have personally saved thousands of lives, offered comfort to the sick and dying and their families and improved the health of communities. I have also had more formal education that my physician partners...yet they are hesitant (and sometimes hostile) to address my by the earned title.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity. Are you working in an academic center (teaching hospital, medical school, etc.) or a private practice/hospital? The reason I ask is that I have noticed that the physicians who are hesitant to address non-MD/DOs as "Dr." are almost always found in a private practice environment or non-academic hospital. I'm a PhD who works for a medical school and teaching hospital, and I have never encountered an MD who has hesitated to call me Dr. until I go to a little hospital in the middle of nowhere. The ironic thing is that the physicians that don't call me Dr are in private practice and have never published a single paper. It is the physicians who have published who are very quick to address me as Dr

5:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like there are a lot insecure people commenting here. What matters is not your degree but who you are and what you do with it. There are many MD who are better researchers than many PhDs. There are also many MDs and DOs who are morons. Simialrly, there are good quality PhDs and bad quality ones.

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a load of crap. I let persons call me what they wish, but, they mustn't call me late when the food is on the table.

6:58 AM  
Anonymous Dr said...

This is not about insecurity. This is about the proper use of the term "doctor" based on what it means! We make judgements based on fact, logic and reason. If certain "insecure" MDs cannot accept this then it belies their own rigorous education. also, don't use the rampant ignorance of the society at large to judge who are "real doctors".

11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You ALL have it wrong. As many of you stated, Dr means Teacher who holds a doctorate degree. doesn't matter if you have an MD or PhD. If you have either and teach, then should be called doctor. Otherwise an MD should be called a physician, a PhD in engineering is called an engineer, a PhD in history is called a historian, a PhD in the natural sciences is called a scientist. Simple. As for titles, again, if you hold a doctorate and teach, they should be called a doctor. Otherwise, they SHOULD ALL be called Mr. Mrs. Ms. Miss or whatever.

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but you're incorrect. You're correct that Doctor means teacher. However, it is not a reference to someone who teaches students in a classroom(otherwise, a kindergarten teacher should be called doctor). It is a reference to one who has taught mankind something novel through a process of research. That is, a PhD is awarded to someone who has written and defended a dissertation describing some new insight into some field of study. Whether that person teaches students in the classroom, it doesn't matter. His/her unique contribution permits him or her to carry the title Doctor at all times and for all purposes.

4:16 AM  
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9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, funny little PHDs. I am just wondering, with what did the PHD of the guy that started this thread changed my life and my children's life? The history of American cities in the 20th century, are you serious ?! Really ?! When you will be able to take half of the brain out from a men's head, use round and round in the surgery room and after that put it back and that pacient will be able to go back to his family, you can use the title DOCTOR. Until then, let the superheroes (MDs) be the doctors. The only reason you want this title is because you want the prestige it gets on public when you say you are a doctor because the public thinks that u are an MD. Dont be happy when you see someone impressed of your title DR, you little PHDs... That someone is only impressed only because he thinks you will be saving his daughter's life. And yes, maybe 1 % of PHDs are really useful to society, but the rest of 99 % are useless and the whole world could live without their discoveries with no problem.

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, you will never get my respect more then a DOCTOR, the real one, the MD. And neither the general public... Life sucks, no? You want to be respected? You want the bank worker to respect you? Go to MEDICINE SCHOOL! Stop fooling around on internet forums.

A lawyer // kinda more prestigious on public general opinion then your phd, a?

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would really like to see this PHDs how they sustain their arguments in front of a neurosurgeon or a cardio-thoracic surgeon

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol, you can not tell an MD doctor, and you can call him a F&cker, Mister F&cker John Doe, gynecologist, and he will still be much more prestigious then a village scholar PHD

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're an idiot. I work with neurosurgeons every day who call be Dr. Part of my job is to train neurosurgeons. In one instance, a neurosurgeon asked me to help him find the recurrent laryngeal nerve in a patient. Another neurosurgeon asked me to help him find the superior laryngeal nerve. In another instance, I stopped a neurosurgeon before he injected the wrong artery with silicone. You have no idea what you're talking about.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For respect, I need to go to medicine school? (It's "medical" school, you moron) I'm a Ph.D. and I teach medical school, which is higher in authority than "going" to medical school. You clearly have a logic deficit. And by the way, when a neurosurgeon removes part of the brain, it stays out. There is no surgical procedure where a portion of a pacient's (sic) brain is "put back" into their head. If you actually knew anything about medicine, well clearly, you don't.

Physicians call me doctor every day at work and their opinion on the matter is more informed than yours, so your opinion is irrelevant.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, now go wash my car PHDs...

12:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would assume, based on the literacy of your previous posts, that your car is a 20 year old Nova?

5:47 AM  
Blogger Dr said...

The prestige was originally accorded to academics, learned men, or "wise men", hence the historic ACADEMIC TITLE of doctor, which means "teacher". No matter what you say, it means "teacher". Its not about turning the brain etc. As the title brought prestige with it, the medical practitioners adopted it, cos they wanted a taste of the prestige which came with it. I am amused to see some puny MDs getting all heated up because they don't understand that doctor means "teacher" and it is an ACADEMIC TITLE. Go and sort out yur low self esteem problem! To me, I respect everybody in their respective field of work. All aspire to do good to the society. But MDs should be called something else, maybe Medical Practitioners (MP), Physicians or Surgeons as they are the rightful medical titles. Come on, don't be such lowlifes!

7:44 AM  
Blogger Deveci said...

I disagree with the comment that delivering baby is much more easier than HPLC or PCR. Using PCR is very easy and HPLC is also not so difficult. I have obtained my BSc and doing my MD now. Okay believe it or not many of the medical procedures are much more complex then any of the technical skills needed for lab. You don't get trained very long to learn a technique in science. However, science is not about learning techniques. It is about using those techniques to develop new ones or to find new information. It is easy to learn a technique but to come up with some idea is though. Science will explore the unknown. However we will have some extraordinary minds that can shape science and how we live and that kind of mind is rare among PhDs, MDs or other qualifications etc.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a 3rd year undergraduate medical student hoping to pursue a career in academic clinical medicine and am frankly appalled by the infantile nature of many of the responses on this post. It is true that the title "Dr." comes from the Latin word to teach, and was initially used to denote people who had completed a degree with a license to teach. The title has however evolved and is now used to denote those who have undertaken a higher ACADEMIC DEGREE. The MD or MBBS his a PROFESSIONAL DEGREE hence it is futile to compare the two.Furthermore I think that if the level of value our education system and society places on academic or professional achievements is reflected merely through something as spurious as a title,it is a testament to the idiocy of the world in which we live. Ultimately the legacy of our academic and professional achievements are far more important than the frivolity of titles in my humble opinion...

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am looking to complete my PhD in Public Policy and Administration in a year and a half. My dissertation is on cyber-security, a very serious problem facing humanity today.

However I found the debate at this forum quite stimulating, except for the ignorant person who said something about removing the brain and "putting it back in" as the only qualification to be called "Doctor". He deserves no further response.

What MDs do can be miraculous sometimes, and they deserve to be called "Doctor". But remember that the procedures they apply were developed and tested by PhDs, their medical equipment are conceived, designed and built by PhDs, the medicines researched by PhDs, and MDs learn from PhDs how to apply these techniques.

Of course not all PhDs are Nobel Prize winners, just as not all MDs are life savers (some have recklessly taken lives, ask the Michael Jackson family). But in our highly visual society, the public interacts with MDs far more than the PhD researcher in an obscure CDC lab investigating some arcane molecular biology or a new disease. Never mind that the results of that investigation may later save millions of lives, the public still doesn't know him.

John Nash's (PhD, Nobel Prize Winner) work on game theory has led to a better understanding of the decision making process, therefore allowing humans to make better tactical decisions, among a plethora of other economic benefits. Numerous unknown PhDs at NASA have developed technologies that have found application in our daily lives. Even your PhD in Liberal Arts has conducted research of significance in contribution to social change, no matter how nuanced.

In summary, anyone who has undergone the rigors of advanced education will not hesitate to give respect to whom it is due. For a millennium PhDs have earned the respect by virtue of their dissertation alone, and ought not to be defending their title now.


10:07 AM  
Anonymous Witness said...

I agree with the posters who observe insecurity and narcissism in the participants of this debate. Those of you who care so much about being called "Dr." appear to have obtained these degrees IN ORDER to be called "Dr." If what you truly care about is contributing to society, then contributing to society would satisfy you. Your vanity makes you seem very petty indeed.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who gives a shit? Get a life!

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one is being narcisstic. And no one spent 14 years in school just so they could have the title Dr. This is about people working extremely hard, educating the next generation of physicians or conducting important research in health and medicine (as well as other areas or scholarship) receiving a modicum of respect from the population they're working to help. Most have no idea the debt they own researchers (both Ph.D.'s and M.D.'s) but that's not why we do what we do. We don't expect to be thanked, we are happy to work anonymously. But it does go a step too far when we hear ignorant fools say, "you don't deserve to be called 'doctor'"

6:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You obviously have nothing intelligent to say so shut up

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In IT,we call each other Dude. So please stop arguing and start calling your neighboor dude.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who care if u get a high degree. My co woker in IT had a higher degree, taught at university, and was chair of dissertations comittees, but he now working for me and i called him Dude. So be real, degree is meaningless in today world.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's obvious all the people commenting here with a PhD are really insecure about what people think or call them. Do I respect people with a PhD - sure. Do I call a person with a PhD a doctor - sure, if they want me to call them that. Why are all of you so self absorbed that the title matters so much to you? I have been a doctor for several years and I still introduce myself to others by my first name at work and outside of work.

3:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a double PhD (engineering and economics). As for you PhDs and most others, feel free to call me Herbert. For you MDs, call me Doctor Doctor.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and before someone states to the contrary, I have worked in industry for 30 years - not in academia - and yes, I am well published. :-)) But I do chuckle when an MD introduces himself to me as Doctor. I just chuckle and say hi, I am Herbert, and laugh all the way to the bank. ;-))

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many PhDs to work that is at least as important as what doctors do. At least those ones should have your respect. I know many who work in areas such as planetary defense, advancing our knowledge in physics, and a variety of other fields. I would think in the grand scheme they deserve to be shown just as much respect as someone who is a physician and/or surgeon of some sort.

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's obvious all the people commenting here with an MD are really insecure about what people think or call them. Do I respect people with an MD - sure. Do I call a person with an MD a physician - sure, if they want me to call them that. Why are all of you so self absorbed that the title matters so much to you? I have been a doctor for several years and I still introduce myself to others by my first name at work and outside of work.

7:23 PM  
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6:40 AM  
Blogger Dr said...

The funny thing about many dungheads here is that they don't understand the meaning and origin of the title doctor (=teacher). No wonder they are dungheads.

11:11 PM  

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