Doc­tor who?

The Daily Telegraph - - Letters To The Editor -

SIR – Ti­tles do mat­ter, but not per­haps in the way one might think (Let­ters, Septem­ber 14).

I spent five years to be­come med­i­cally qual­i­fied and call my­self “Doc­tor”. I then spent an­other five as a ju­nior sur­geon be­fore re­vert­ing to “Mr”, an ar­chaic prac­tice re­flect­ing the old di­vi­sion be­tween physi­cians and bar­bers. When at­tend­ing meet­ings abroad, I was al­ways ad­dressed as “Doc­tor”, and quite of­ten awarded an MD.

Some­what more per­ni­cious is the rise of the use of the ti­tle “Pro­fes­sor”. In this coun­try, this used to mean some­one with a re­search de­gree, a head of an aca­demic depart­ment, or a holder of a per­sonal chair. There are now a num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als who use the pre­fix as a con­se­quence of hav­ing given a lec­ture once. The pub­lic are led to be­lieve that such an in­di­vid­ual must be bet­ter than a mere “Mr”. They need to re­mem­ber that if you need surgery, or in­deed any kind of job done, go to a crafts­man, not a thinker. David Nunn FRCS

West Malling, Kent

SIR – I re­call an old-school don in Ox­ford in the Six­ties ask­ing a guest in the se­nior com­mon room if he was “Mr” or “just plain Doc­tor”. DW Hard­ing

Gul­lane, East Loth­ian

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