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Doctor title for General Practitioners?

Is it just traditional to call a General Practitioner a Doctor? Am I correct in assuming that not all GPs have a doctorate in medicine? Is it the same for Dentists? I realise that some senior Doctors do indeed hold PhDs or MDs but I think that most Doctors only have batchelor or masters degrees so that in most other professions they would not hold the Doctor title. Am I correct?


I realise GPs are entitled to use the Doctor title. My question was whether academically a GP simply has a batchelor degree in medicine.

Update 2:

I read this from wikipeadia:

"not all qualified medical [practitioners] hold the [MD] degree" but that "those ... who have not taken [it] are addressed as if they had."

Update 3:

There is another important derivation of the distinction; in the UK, unlike many other countries, MD is not a licensing qualification to practise medicine. The typical double bachelor's degree, MB BS or equivalent, does not, strictly speaking entitle the holder to the title of doctor. In the USA, doctors, dentists, vets and non-medical PhDs all qualify with a doctorate, hence the plethora of `doctors'.

Physicians and surgeons have adopted the style MD to differentiate themselves from other `doctors'.

At the same time in the UK, dental surgeons in general dental practice, who also hold a bachelors degree, are now styling themselves Dr. We are uncertain as to the origin of this creeping doctorization

8 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    As far as i know,

    when you qualify as a doctor, you do your FY1&2 (as a junior doctor), during this stage you look at what specialty you want to go into (surgery, GP, etc) you can then specialize later in your training, if you chose to be a GP then you usually keep your Dr, but if you then go and do surgery, and qualify as a surgeon, you lose your Dr (something to do with history, and that surgeons were butchers, and physicians weren't)

    so if you were a GP that did surgery, then you would me a Mr or Mrs

    but if you were (like most GPs) a physician, then you would be a Dr

    Source(s): My mum is a Dr, but has a surgery degree, so she is Mrs
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  • 1 decade ago

    Agreed with MB BS. Being a GP is a speciality after you qualify as a doctor, like you would have to specialise if you wanted to become a paediatrician. I wonder if you are getting a little confused with the US and UK qualifications? Sometimes, being qualified as a medical doctor in one country does not mean that you can practise in a country outside of where you qualified. You may need to take the local exams to sign up with the appropriate medical practitioners' register (UK - General Medical Council).

    Being a medical practitioner does not necessarily mean that you are a doctor. You can be a qualified medical practitioner if you are a nurse, physiotherapist, etc.

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  • 1 decade ago

    All doctors who qualified in the UK have the MBBS degree (Bachelor of medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) as their primary medical qualification. They are entitled to use the Dr. title when they practise as a doctor, even though it is not technically a doctorate. The MBBS is entirely equivalent to the American MD. It is not a question of whether academically a GP can use the title Dr, Since all doctors are entitled to its title.

    Source(s): Med. Student
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  • Lois
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    We're almost there, and it's scary. Have you heard the expression "just enough knowledge to be dangerous"? It applies here. There are a lot of NPs and PAs who think they are MD equivalent, but are definitely not. I've heard stories of what some of these independently practicing "providers" do (example - treating a presumed infection by telephone - never seeing or examining the patient - by ordering 3 different antibiotics - yikes) There's a reason for physician supervision. I supervise CRNAs, and bail them out on a regular basis. They have a very selective memory for that, though. A nurse is capable of practicing medicine only after attending medical school, not by piling on more nursing degrees.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Just to clarify the point about the use of the title "Doctor" by those with a PhD, made in an earlier answer:

    The title comes with the qualification and those of us with it have worked damn hard for it. I use the title on my driving licence, my bank details, and elsewhere. I would, however, refrain from using it in a medical environment because of the obvious confusion it might cause.

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  • 1 decade ago

    In the UK, all General Practitioners will hold the basic MB BS degree and can quite rightly be called Doctor. It has nothing to do with 'doctors' who hold PhDs as their title, to my mind, is a complete misnomer.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    a person with a PhD is called a doctor. an M.D. (medical doctor) and a D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) are also called doctors. an M.D. goes through 4 years medical school and at least 4 years residency and guess what?? a D.O. goes through 4 years medical school and at least 4 years residency. both M.Ds and D.Os have to pass MULTIPLE national board exams in order to practice. and by the way, a general surgeon is called a DOCTOR too. they went through medical school and 5 years residency in order to specialize in general surgery. they have earned the title and will not appreciate the term Mr. it is insulting.

    as for the difference between an M.D. family practictioner and a D.O. family practicioner is that a D.O. can do ANYTHING an M.D. does AND MORE. D.O.'s have additional resources to utilize with their patients called mainpulation. it is a manual hands on approach to putting the body back into homeostatic structure. i encourage anyone and everyone to look into a DOs skills. we work very hard to learn them and they make us better doctors in both treatment AND approach to our patients.

    by the way, i am a 2nd year OSTEOPATHIC medical school student who is going into debt by 75,000 a year for my 4 year education to bring better health and lifestyle habits to my patients. when i earn my degree, i will not demand to be called Dr., but it is respectful and greatly appreciated for the title that i am busting my *** for right now.

    hope this helps

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  • 1 decade ago

    I always wondered the samething.

    I thought a MD was a GP when not into a specialty.

    My orthodontist is a DDS, MSD

    My doctor is an OD and does family practice.

    Very confusing!

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