Just what are the credentials of someone who asks to be addressed as Doctor?
M.D., Ph.D., Ed.D., D.A., D.D.S., Psy.D.? Does it matter? Would anyone ever dare to ask?
In his article for the New York Times – Calling the Nurse ‘Doctor’ – Gardiner Harris addresses the controversy of nurses who complete graduate studies in clinical nursing practice, hailing with the title of “doctor.” Those who struggled through years of medical school are taking umbrage, and want to preserve that title for themselves. Of course, aside from the prestige and respect factors, medical doctors fear that money and power are in play – more of both for the nurses.
In academia, the snob factor of the Ph.D. has prevailed, but there too, idiosyncracies abound. Those with the same letters after a name still have differences: a degree holder in literature may scoff at the engineering degree that focuses on nonliterary pursuits – liberal arts learning to broaden the scope vs. concentrations on technology. Some letters may indicate those who research (Ph.D.) vs. those who practice (Ed.D.); some letters take longer to earn – but they are all called “Dr.”
Does the title confer intelligence or competency? Probably not. My favorite definition of Ph.D. is “piled higher and deeper,” and my favorite doctor was a dentist; everyone called him Doc, and he carried a gun.
Read a review of Mary Doria Russell’s Doc – here