Can a holder of DBA use Dr. with in his name?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Tarbuza, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    And back to the original question ...

    And why is this "pretentious"?

    Would you call a Catholic priest "Father" outside of church?
    Or a military officer by his/her rank, off a military base?

    I'm not understanding why earning and using an academic title is a sign of pretentiousness.

    I'm sure there are times when you insist on being addressed as "Mr. Arch" as a sign of respect. "Mister" is an unearned honorific with history back to the hierarchy of English nobility.

    Again, there certainly are times when people go overboard in their insistence on being addressed in a particular way. However, to universally declare that all "out-of-workplace" instances of address are automatically inappropriate seems overkill to the opposite extreme.
  2. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    As a holder of a DBA, I only introduce myself as doctor inside of the classroom. However, I would make one exception: If someone introduces themselves (to me) as a doctor (outside of the proper setting), then I'll shake hands with them and will then introduce myself as a doctor. :cool:
  3. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    Medical degrees have long been undergraduate degrees in much of the world, but until fairly recently, I think, that was reflected in the degree title: Bachelor of Medicine. One could then go on for a graduate degree, and earn the M.D. The new thing (well, new to me) is to rename the undergraduate degree as "Doctor of Medicine."
  4. KLM

    KLM New Member

    In my humble opinion, it is my understanding that if you have earned a doctoral degree from an accredited institution you are entitled to all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities that go along with that degree. One of the privileges of which is to be addressed as a doctor.

    Now, that being said, when I was in an administrative position as Director of a Radiology Department in a hospital, I did not use the Dr. in front of my name. In that environment, I did not want to confuse staff or patients with the title Dr. as they might have interpreted me to be a physician, which is not the case. I always use the title in the academic environment and when being introduced as a speaker etc. I don't require students to address me as Dr.... unless they choose to do so. I am not a physician, but do have a doctor of education degree, which entitles me to be addressed as Dr.
  5. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    I guess that originally, the word "doctor" was a job-title, a social-role, that of higher-level teacher. "Doctor" was kind of synonymous and often interchangeable with "master", which might have had more of a skilled-trades connotation, as in master stonemason. In ancient and early medieval times teachers were often free-agents, independent contractors, gathering circles of students informally around themselves.

    In the high medieval period formal universities appeared and the idea of teaching qualifications appeared with them. Generally students qualified to be doctors at a university by completing that university's course of study. At first universities only accepted their own teaching qualifications, but since graduates moved around quite a bit, the practice evolved of universities accepting each other's qualifications reciprocally. If somebody qualified to be a doctor at Oxford, Paris would generally assume that he was qualified to teach there as well.

    So "doctor" imperceptibly changed into "doctorate", from a teaching job-description into an academic degree. That's where university degrees originated. And inevitably, many medieval doctors didn't feel like teaching at all, after they had qualified to do it, and used their august qualifications to score positions royal physicians, advisors, jurists or high-level ecclesiastics. Even in medieval times, many university classes were actually taught by teaching assistants.

    In medieval times, all universities were essentially professional schools. Their emphases were on medicine, law and theology. Some universities had particular strengths and specialties, for example, Bologna in law, Salerno in medicine and Paris in theology. The seven liberal arts were perceived as preparatory subjects, taught by "arts masters", which is the origin of our MA. Occasionally a high-powered thinker failed to progress to a profession, which raised medieval eyebrows. William of Ockham, one of the greatest of the medieval philosophers, was refused a theology teaching qualification by order of the Avignon papacy because he was suspected of heretical views, so he became known around the University of Paris where he was as the 'perpetual inceptor'. (The middle ages had perpetual students too.)

    My point in all this historical stuff is that medical doctors have been recognized as real honest-to-God doctors since doctorates became doctorates. Medical teachers were among the first to claim the "doctor" title. It's entirely traditional and comes directly out of European history.

    I think that some of this MD = bachelors degree stuff comes from a relatively modern movement to professionalize the informal barber-surgeons by requiring them to have university degrees. At first that was only a bachelors degree and in some countries that tradition stuck, with the bachelors of medicine becoming the gateway to initial medical practice. But as the requirements for medical degrees elaborated and as medical practitioners often found themselves teaching medical classes and performing medical research, and as the increasingly middle-class market saw patients clearly prefering august "doctors" over mere tradesmen, a new tendency arose to collapse practioner/teacher training together and to use the more prestigious academic qualification for both.

    The counter-argument is sometimes that an MD can't be a real doctorate if it doesn't require a dissertation. The problem with that objection is that the research-doctorate, awarded on the basis of an original dissertation, is a recent innovation, historically speaking. It first appeared in 19'th century Germany. Today Ph.D.s have spread into pretty much every field and their champions want to turn them into the paradigms of all doctorates, period. But professional doctoral degrees, including doctorates in medicine, had already been around the European scene for some 600 years before modern Ph.D.s ever appeared.
  6. MichaelGates

    MichaelGates Member

    Yes, I would call a military officer by his military rank anywhere in the world if he was in uniform at the time and I would still call him by his rank if he was in civilian attire and I knew his military rank. Being military it would even be my duty correct those who did not out rank me, if I saw them getting sloppy in this area. Besides using rank, you also throw in that salute to keep things formal.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2009
  7. Delta

    Delta Active Member

    In Great Britain a Surgeon is addressed as "Mister" and not "Doctor"

    As mentioned in a previous post some US states make it illegal to use the title "Doctor" for some professions. It would be interesting to see a verdict against a Nurse Practitioner with a DNP from a regionally accredited degree appeal a judgment up to the Supreme Court if necessary.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2009
  8. Lukeness

    Lukeness Member

    This refers to a specialist surgeon. Elsewhere in the world a normal MD would be referred to as a General Practitioner/Surgeon. As in a medical doctor without specialization in any specific medical field. "Mister", in this case, is used to make the distinction.
  9. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    Please clarify

    I believe this is the quintessential tempest in a teapot.

    Yes, there are some jurisdictions which bar specifically nurse practitioners with doctorates from being addressed as "Doctor" in medical care settings to avoid the obvious confusion with MDs. (Of course, the big showdown is set for 2015 when the AANP seeks to require the DNP - Doctor of Nursing Practice - as the minimum qualification for nurse practitioners.) Can't wait to see how the "Doctor nurse" debate plays out.

    Which brings up KLM's comment:
    I would agree with both the content and intent of his statement. That, while entitled to be addressed as "doctor" -- in this setting -- he chose not to be in order to avoid confusion. Personally, I would think wearing an ID (as I do) which reads "KLM, EdD" is not only permissible, but probably required. At that point, anyone who reads it would likely address him/her as "Dr. KLM".

    Now, in my case, all 50 states stipulate that to use the title "psychologist" one must hold a doctoral degree. Therefore, it would seem inappropriate -- even in a medical setting -- for a psychologist to not be addressed as "doctor."

    Personally, I find it funny how things evolve over time. (And I'm not talking about the US/world comparisons.) When I began my career, I started as a milieu counselor (BA/Psychology). Telling my mother about my work, I mentioned the medical director by his first name. My mother -- a medical secretary -- was aghast; why wasn't I calling him "Doctor"? I explained that in a closed-door staff meeting, we all were on a first name basis. However, on the unit, in front of patients and family, he was most certainly addressed as "Doctor Smith."
  10. Delta

    Delta Active Member

    Title versus Address

    Patients "address" and it is difficult to control that aspect. I can't imagine a law that prohibits "addressing" anyone as a "Doctor". Health care providers have little control over what a person calls them. They can however educate the patient on their profession and title. I get addressed as "doctor" all the time by the Hispanic patients I treat. I tell them I am a nurse practitioner and not a medical doctor, they reply, "okay doctor or si doctor." Did I break the law? Of course not, I have little to no control on how people "address" me.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2009
  11. honesroc

    honesroc Member


    I can't believe this conversation is actually happening...
  12. Delta

    Delta Active Member


    Just a little free time to shoot the bull. I hope you are not offended.
  13. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    Don't be so sure

    Actually, whether you broke the law depends upon your intent and how the law is written. If you did nothing to correct your patient, I would believe a licensing board complaint could be filed and likely would result in sanction.

    Of course, we cannot "force" a patient to address us a certain way. But the rationale behind title protection acts is to prevent misleading the public. In my town, we have a licensed mental health counselor with an EdD in an unrelated discipline. She is entitled to be addressed as "Doctor" but not "psychologist." If she advertises herself as a psychologist -- clear violation. If she insists on being addressed as "doctor" and does not correct patients' impression that she is psychologist, she is equally in violation.

    As a psychology intern, I was obligated to make sure that patients did not call me a psychologist because of the protected title act.

    It gets a little murkier when "allied health practitioners" provide services which overlap that of physicians.

    And why is that?
    Do you have something against people protecting that which they worked hard to achieve?
  14. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    And why wouldn't a DBA be qualified to use the doctoral title?
  15. Delta

    Delta Active Member


    You are correct! One can never be, "too sure."

    In my example, I related a story about a Mexican patient continuing to call me doctor in Spanish. I attempted to correct him and he continued to call me doctor pronounced doughctour in Spanish. I can only conclude there must be some other meaning to that word in Mexican Spanish. Perhaps in Mexico they address Psychologists, Audiologists and perhaps even Nurse practitioners as "doctor". I simply do not know and the medical translator doesn't as well. I can only attempt to correct my title and provide an explanation of what I practice.

    If the law of "title protection" is valid in this case, I hope it addresses the fact of crossing cultural and language issues. Good thing we have Attorneys at Law to interpret the law. In fact, English is not mentioned in the US Constitution as an official language. This brings up a debate of the interpretation of the meaning of the English word "doctor". In addition, does the word "doctor" have the same meaning in American English as British, Jamaican, South African, Australian or New Zealand English? I have treated patients from all those countries as well. In addition, most of those countries award a bachelor of medicine and surgery to their physicians and surgeons. Many do not hold doctoral degrees.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2009
  16. Delta

    Delta Active Member

    Title protection

    I did some research and the term "Physician" is title protected!
  17. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    This is true once the doctor aquires a professional designation.
    The correct way to address a member or fellow of The Royal College of Surgeons is to use the title Mr, Miss, Mrs, or Ms (not Dr). This system (which applies only to surgeons, not physicians) has its origins in the 16th century, when surgeons were barber-surgeons and did not have a medical degree (or indeed any formal qualification), unlike physicians, who held a University medical degree. Source:

    My nephew went straight from high school to medical school in the UK where he received a Bachelor of Medicine (MB) degree. Following his internship, he took additional training and exams to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Radiologists.
    "To become a radiologist, Fellows of the College have first to become doctors and then train for a further seven years, learning the necessary skills and knowledge to select the most suitable methods and materials for successful diagnosis and to minimise the risks to patients from the use of imaging equipment."
    He prefers to be called Mr. but does not mind it when patients cal him "doctor."

    Like wise surgeons in the UK are usually FRCS

    And their are other specialist designations in the UK; and Canada has similar designations.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2009
  18. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    MDs participate in some, if not all, of these activities at some medical schools. See for example this faculty list from UC San Francisco:
  19. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    Not correct.
  20. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    It isn't just clinical professors either. There are roughly 50 pure MDs (excluding MD/PhDs) teaching in UCSF's Biomedical Sciences PhD programs and advising doctoral students.

    Many of these are principal investigators running their own laboratories. Occasionally they even win awards, like these two MDs.

    One of them was appointed UCSF's Chancellor, the other left to head up the National Institutes of Health and then Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC.

    Not too bad for bachelors degrees. Think of what they could have accomplished with doctorates.

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