Who’s the Real Doctor?

A great many people in this country, if not most, believe that physicians are the “real” doctors and that academics are pretenders.

The opposite is true.

The word “doctor” is derived from the latin word,  docere, meaning to teach. It has nothing to do with medicine, specifically. The word “doctor” was first used in the English language over seven  hundred years ago as an honorific for theologians who were licensed to teach theology.

As the university system developed in Europe, graduates in theology, law, and medicine were all considered doctors. As theology was generalized to philosophy and philosophy ramified into a broad diversity of fields of study in the arts and sciences, people who obtained the highest level of education with the intention of conducting research and teaching were granted doctoral degrees and called doctors.

Today, in many countries, such as Great Britain, the typical medical practitioner does not have a doctorate degree. They are well educated in medicine, for sure, having completed about as many years of university and having obtained as many university degrees as people with doctorates in philosophy. But in Great Britain and many commonwealth countries, the standard degree for a medical practitioner is a baccalaureate in medicine and surgery (MBBS) , not a doctorate in medicine (MD). In those countries, only people who intend to conduct medical research or teach at the university level go the extra distance to earn their M.D. Nevertheless, it is proper and respectful to call a physician with an MBBS “doctor” in those countries, consistent with international use.

In the other direction, lawyers are typically granted a J.D. degree – a doctorate in law – when they graduate from law school. This tradition extends back to Medieval times. Thus, it would be technically correct to call lawyers “doctor”, but is never done in most countries.

So the next time someone is introduced as “Doctor Smith” and you find out that she has a Ph.D. in history rather than a medical degree, don’t think of them as a “pretend doctor”, think of yourself as a participant in a thousand-year-old tradition of giving respect to people who have dedicated years of their life to the pursuit of knowledge.

A tradition that has served our culture very well, indeed.

Yours, Ashley


About Ashley Zacharias

I'm a post-modern woman who lives a vanilla life and dreams about kinky adventure. I write BDSM pornography but have no interest in acting out my fantasies in real life. Find my work on SmashWords.com and Amazon.com
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2 Responses to Who’s the Real Doctor?

  1. GwaiLo says:

    There are few blogs I enjoy more than yours… I always enjoy reading your opinions.
    Please don’t stop 🙂

  2. Thanks. I’ll have to get busy and think up more opinions 🙂

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