Why are surgeons called Mr, Miss or Mrs, rather than Dr?‎


In most other parts of the world all medical practitioners, physicians and surgeons alike, are referred to as ‘Dr’ whereas in the UK surgeons are usually referred to as Mr, Miss or Mrs. This is because, from the Middle Ages physicians had to embark on formal university training to gain possession of a degree in medicine before they could enter practice. The possession of this degree, a doctorate, entitled them to the title of ‘Doctor of Medicine’ or Doctor.

The training of surgeons until the mid-19th century was different. They did not have to go to university to gain a degree; instead they usually served on apprenticeship to a surgeon. Afterwards they took an examination. In London, after 1745, this was conducted by the Surgeons’ Company and after 1800 by The Royal College of Surgeons. If successful they were awarded a diploma, not a degree, therefore they were unable to call themselves ‘Doctor’, and stayed instead with the title ‘Mr’.

Outside London and the largest cities the surgeon served an apprenticeship like many other tradesmen, but did not necessarily take any examination. Today all medical practitioners, whether physicians or surgeons have to undertake training at medical school to obtain a qualifying degree. Thereafter a further period of postgraduate study and training through junior posts is required before full consultant surgeon status is achieved. Thus the tradition of a surgeon being referred to as ‘Mr/Miss/Mrs’ has continued, meaning that in effect a person starts as ‘Mr/Miss/Mrs’, becomes a ‘Dr’ and then goes back to being a ‘Mr’; ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’ again!

Source: The Royal College of Surgeons of England

This entry was posted in Being a consultant. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why are surgeons called Mr, Miss or Mrs, rather than Dr?‎

  1. Dag says:

    What about calling medical professionals like pharmacists (who finished DPharm, equivalent to British MPharm), podiatrists and osteopaths (though trained in medical schools) doctors/physicians in the US?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s