Commentary on medical news by a practicing physician.

  • Epocrates MedSearch Drug Lookup


    "When many cures are offered for a disease, it means the disease is not curable" -Anton Chekhov

    ''Once you tell people there's a cure for something, the more likely they are to pressure doctors to prescribe it.''
    -Robert Ehrlich, drug advertising executive.

    "Opinions are like sphincters, everyone has one." - Chris Rangel

    email: medpundit-at-ameritech.net

    or if that doesn't work try:


    Medpundit RSS

    Quirky Museums and Fun Stuff

    Who is medpundit?

    Tech Central Station Columns

    Book Reviews:
    Read the Review

    Read the Review

    Read the Review

    More Reviews

    Second Hand Book Reviews


    Medical Blogs


    DB's Medical Rants

    Family Medicine Notes

    Grunt Doc




    Code Blog: Tales of a Nurse

    Feet First

    Tales of Hoffman

    The Eyes Have It


    SOAP Notes


    Cut-to -Cure

    Black Triangle



    Kevin, M.D

    The Lingual Nerve

    Galen's Log



    Doctor Mental



    Finestkind Clinic and Fish Market

    The Examining Room of Dr. Charles

    Chronicles of a Medical Mad House



    Health Facts and Fears

    Health Policy Blogs

    The Health Care Blog

    HealthLawProf Blog

    Facts & Fears

    Personal Favorites

    The Glittering Eye

    Day by Day


    The Business Word Inc.

    Point of Law

    In the Pipeline


    Tim Blair

    Jane Galt

    The Truth Laid Bear

    Jim Miller

    No Watermelons Allowed

    Winds of Change

    Science Blog

    A Chequer-Board of Night and Days

    Arts & Letters Daily

    Tech Central Station





    The Skeptic's Dictionary

    Recommended Reading

    The Doctor Stories by William Carlos Williams

    Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82 by Elizabeth Fenn

    Intoxicated by My Illness by Anatole Broyard

    Raising the Dead by Richard Selzer

    Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

    The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

    The Sea and Poison by Shusaku Endo

    A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich



    American Academy of Pediatrics

    General Health Info

    Travel Advice from the CDC

    NIH Medical Library Info



    Thursday, May 24, 2007

    What's in a Title? Sometimes, when someone wants to get our attention, they call themselves "Dr. So and So." Sometimes it's a ruse to get around the receptionist. "Dr. So and So is on the line about Mrs. X." And we drop everything wondering who is "Dr. So and So," and what's he doing to (with) Mrs. X only to discover it's Dr. So and So of the English department, a close relative. Rather annoying.

    Sometimes it's just done to impress. One evening a phone call came to my home when I wasn't available. One of the children answered and took a message, but not a good one. "Some doctor named Joe, couldn't understand the last name." I couldn't imagine why any of the doctors named Joe of my aquaintance would be calling me late in the evening, and at home instead of through the answering service, so I was left with the mystery - until the next day when I was confronted by an irate relative who was definitely not an MD. There's a lesson in that. The children of doctors are not impressed by doctors.

    Actually, about the only people who are impressed by the title are those who hold it:

    Feelings about "Dr." are bound up in that bitch-goddess, Status. (Yes, I know: James said Success. But Status is a sister.) The best line in either Austin Powers movie belongs to Dr. Evil, who, when addressed as "Mr.," says, "I didn’t spend six years in evil medical school to be called 'Mr.,' thank you very much!" Our senior editor Jeffrey Hart, professor emeritus of English at Dartmouth, remembers serving as a campaign adviser to Nixon (not that this is necessarily a segue from evil). To Jeff's amusement, Nixon called him "Dr. Hart." This accords with the Nixon we know: class-conscious, status-nervous, chip-on-the-shouldery, the boy from Whittier who received a tuition scholarship to Harvard but couldn’t go, because the family didn’t have the money to transport him to and from Massachusetts. Nixon, according to Jeff, would also say, "I’m no Ph.D., but . . .," before launching into a disquisition on some arcane topic.

    For some, to be called "Dr." is a way of saying, "I am somebody," in the words of the Rev. Jesse Jackson. (Ah, "the Rev. Mr. Jackson" and "the Rev. Al Sharpton" — that’s "a whole 'nother" article, as we say in my family.) Many years ago, another NR senior editor, Rick Brookhiser, surveying all the mail sent to Bill Buckley, adjudged that the most interesting letters were those from prison. And the least interesting? The ones from people who signed themselves "Ph.D." I know someone who's a lawyer in West Virginia who has found that the surest way to rattle his opposition's expert Ph.D. witness is to refer to him as "Mr."


    posted by Sydney on 5/24/2007 10:27:00 PM 3 comments


    I am amused by medical doctors who think that those with PhDs are the imposters. In fact, of course, the doctor of philosophy designation predates the medical degree by centuries.

    From Wikipedia:

    A doctorate is an academic degree of the highest level. The term comes from the Latin doctor, meaning "teacher." It originated in Medieval Europe as a license to teach at a university. In this sense doctoral training was a form of apprenticeship to a guild. The traditional term of study before new teachers were admitted to the guild of "Masters of Arts," seven years, was the same as the term of apprenticeship for other occupations. Originally the terms "master" and "doctor" were synonymous, but over time the doctorate came to be regarded as a higher qualification than the master's degree.

    I have close relatives who are MDs, PhDs, Master's etc., and they are just Uncle Bob, Grandpa, Grandma, Cousin Steve, etc. None of them are all THAT impressive, except in their human qualities.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:15 PM  

    Does anyone with a Master's degree ever expect to be called "Master?"

    By Blogger sydney, at 9:14 PM  

    Sydney, "Master" is a title formerly reserved for young boys, so I guess not!

    The title "Dr." has lost its meaning, anyway, as there are all kinds of folks with non-doctoral level educations using it these days, primarily in health care.

    It is useful, however, to the extent that my family knows that if the person on the phone uses "Mr." or "Mrs.", it's someone we don't know.

    I never go by "Mrs." I'm okay with "Dr." or my first name, but if someone is going to use a title, they should use the right one. This is probably some deep-seated psychological compensation for giving up my maiden name, I suppose.

    Also, anonymous, MD's don't think those with PhDs are imposters. "Dr." is a social title, and its (former) usage was dictated by the likes of Emily Post, not the snobbery of the medical profession.

    By Anonymous Danie, at 11:23 AM  

    Post a Comment

    This page is powered by Blogger, the easy way to update your web site.

    Main Page


    Home   |   Archives

    Copyright 2006