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J R Soc Med. 2006 July; 99(7): 335.
PMCID: PMC1484567

Miss, Mister, Doctor: An insult

The tone of your recent editorial, ‘Miss, Mister, Doctor: how we are titled is of little consequence’, and article, ‘Do surgeons wish to become doctors?’ (April 2006 JRSM1,2), on who should be called ‘Doctor’ is unnecessarily offensive. I have a DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine, Dentariae Medicinae Doctor), followed by a PhD (in psychology). In Germany I would be referred to as ‘Doctor Doctor’, and when I served as a professor in the Netherlands, I was called ‘Professor Doctor Doctor’. It did not matter whether I was a physician, surgeon, podiatrist, veterinarian, dentist, and/or psychologist.

In several places in the two publications the authors take umbrage at the very idea that dentists should be called doctors. For example, in the article by Ibery et al., ‘Do surgeons wish to become doctors?’, the authors state, ‘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’.

To compound the insult, you separate doctors from dentists in your comparisons, rather than referring to them as physicians and dentists, who are both called doctor in the USA and elsewhere. Even that distinction would become blurred if the change being proposed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts legislature to redesignate dentists as oral physicians comes to pass.


Competing interests None declared.


1. Treasure T, Tan C. Miss, Mister, Doctor: how we are titled is of little consequence. J R Soc Med 2006;99: 164-5 [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Ibery N, Patel PM, Robb PJ. Do surgeons wish to become doctors? J R Soc Med 2006;99: 197-9 [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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