I have pondered writing about this topic for a while now, but have found it hard to articulate my ever-developing thoughts on this topic. The topic of ‘Dr’. One little two letter title. A title awarded to those with a PhD, or those with an MD or other medical profession (e.g. a dentist). The title that is in the name of this little blog. The title that I was legally awarded earlier this year.
I am sure many of us in the academic world are aware of the critics stating that Dr. Jill Biden should not call herself Dr. because she does not have a medical degree. As if calling herself her legal name suggests that she is posing as a medical doctor. The same could be said if this is reversed. What if we critiqued Dr. Derek Shepherd (Grey’s Anatomy reference for the fans) for posing as a PhD of education?
This story is not one that is only unfolding in the White House. “Are you a real Dr. or a PhD?” is something I have been asked often. Asked in a humorous tone. I have never taken offence to this per se, but I think that this is part because I genuinely admire medical doctors. I admire their persistence, dedication, sacrifice. Due to this admiration I feel as if I can’t be offended by the joke. But, that isn’t fair, just like Dr. Jill Biden I am not posing as a medical doctor, I am not suggesting that I can do open heart surgery, or prescribe medicine, I am simply using my legal title. I am not saying that I am a doctor with a Dr. title, I am saying that I am an academic with a Dr. title. I should be able to admire a profession and be truly proud of my own in the same breath.
Just the other day, I met a recently graduated medical doctor, who asked if I actually use the Dr title. I wonder what the response would be if I posed her the same question? I think it would be easier if we had different titles for medical doctors and PhD, as I have mentioned I never want to suggest that I am a medical doctor. It is however unlikely that history can be rewritten to afford two titles.
I was so excited to get my Dr title, to fill out my first form with ‘Dr’. I don’t think it makes me better than anyone else, not more clever, or more important, or more prestigious. It simply means that I completed a PhD, a doctorate degree. It means that I am Dr. not an imposter.