Is There a Doctor on the Blog?
I get email:
Greetings and salutations from a humble med student.Obviously not someone who has read this. He continues:
Oh great dinosaur, long have I enjoyed/appreciated/laughed my ass off at your blog.
Please, please, PLEASE could you repost and comment on this past post from angrypharmacist that I stumbled across today while sitting in physiology class.I would appreciate it if you would shed some of your Solomon like wisdom on this post for me. And possibly repost it on your own blog so that we can get input from your insightful readers?
Next: The post at hand (which is over a year old, though that's neither here nor there) is about the appropriate use of the term "Doctor;" who can use it "legitimately" and who is just putting on airs. It's a nice post; not one of The Angry Pharmacist's angrier ones, but it can be tiring to keep up that level of rage all the time (as I well know.)
Here's my take:
One of TAP's commenters is correct, in that the word "Doctor" originally meant "teacher," and that medical, dental, law and pharma doctorates are not actually graduate degrees in the purest academic sense. None of which matters.
The use of the title "Doctor" is a purely cultural convention and its usage varies from one country to another. In Europe, for example, PhD's use "Doctor" much more freely than here. In fact, German doesn't even force a distinction between Mr./Mrs. and "Doctor": my grandmother was "Frau Doktor" all the time before she came to this country. (PhD in Mathematics from the University of Vienna in the 1920s, per an oral history recorded by my aunt; awesome stuff.) Furthermore, my understanding is that physicians in several countries are routinely called "Mr." instead of "Doctor."
What this means is that there is no objectively "right" answer to question about who can use the term "doctor" legitimately. All we have are cultural conventions.
In the United States, the convention is that term "Doctor" is reserved for medical professionals, specifically physicians, dentists and veterinarians. Those with academic doctorates may use the term professionally, and optionally in social situations. Because the sine qua non of a graduate degree is a thesis, other bastardizations that do not require one (law; pharmacy; nursing) to obtain the degree may not use it without appearing to be arrogant asshats with hypoplastic egos.
As it happens, I have sufficient ego strength that I do not need to be called "Doctor" all the time. I don't scorn social invitations that lack my "proper" title, nor do I pointedly correct anyone who fails to use it. I often tell patients I encounter after hours that I like to leave the "doctor" at the office; in the supermarket, I'm just "Dino." Actually, my favorite appellation is one of three possessives usually heard at a school event or Ultimate tournament:
- Jock's Parent
- DinoDaughter's Parent
- NinjaBaker's Parent