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Title of Dr. for MD vs. Phd (or other doctorate degrees)

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bootsiekin

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Since I got kind of fired up about the idea that some people would find it snobbish to want to use the title of Dr. socially without having an MD, I thought I would provide some evidence that times are changing as far as only referring to MDs as "Dr."

The result of some web searches suggest that both schools of thought are currently among the general public, ranging from some still finding it pretentious (though not citing a reason why) to others being offended and felt that it implies that a doctorate degree is "less than" a MD. However, I found a few examples on etiquette boards regarding envelope addressing, but I think its still applicable!:

"...As an extension of this question, for others who are Ph.D. doctors is it appropriate to address them as such, or is Doctor on invitations reserved for medical doctors only?

I will appreciate your insight.

Thanks,
Visitor in Los Angeles

Reply:

Dear Visitor in Los Angeles,

Thank you for your question. You would address the outer envelope as:

Dr. Jane Doe or Jane Doe Ph.D and Mr. John Doe or

And, the inner envelope:

Dr. Doe and Mr. Doe

In the recent past, Doctor or Dr. had been reserved for medical doctors in correspondence. However, today we could use the title Doctor to address anyone with a Ph.D."

Also at http://www.westchester-weddings.com/invitations_stationery_addressing.asp

it says that MDs are addressed "Doctor Smith" and PhDs are "Dr.Smith"

I think these examples should go for all doctorate degrees. Just putting it out there!
 

bootsiekin

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..and one more : http://www.wrapituppartyplanning.com/address_etiquette.htm

Doctor (medical) Doctor Benjamin Fry

Doctor (PhD) Dr. Benjamin Fry
 

JulieN

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why the angst?

call yourself whatever you want. If someone thinks it''s pretentious, what do you care?
 

bootsiekin

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I''m just providing some information that the general "rule" may be changing and giving it as an option to use.
 

allycat0303

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I have to agree with Julie.

I will be a MD but already hate it when people call me Dr. So does my sister who is an MD. She tells everyone to call her by her first name, and so do I. I am planning to do a phD (already have a master`s) in residency and don`t want people calling me Dr when I get that either.

Actually let''s be simple. I don`t want anyone calling me Dr. EVER. That and signing your name with all the initials on it, I didn`t get my degrees to have other people recognize it.

And I don`t have any objections to either degree calling themselves Dr. Although I have rolled my eyes at people that insist on it, or put it on thier stuff.

Like on a credit card bill saying Dr. So and so, that was yelling at a store clerk becauuse she said Mrs. So and So instead of Dr. So and so! That cured me of all notion that being called Dr. meant anything at all.
 

bootsiekin

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Date: 3/2/2009 7:26:18 AM
Author: allycat0303
I have to agree with Julie.


I will be a MD but already hate it when people call me Dr. So does my sister who is an MD. She tells everyone to call her by her first name, and so do I. I am planning to do a phD (already have a master`s) in residency and don`t want people calling me Dr when I get that either.


Actually let''s be simple. I don`t want anyone calling me Dr. EVER. That and signing your name with all the initials on it, I didn`t get my degrees to have other people recognize it.


And I don`t have any objections to either degree calling themselves Dr. Although I have rolled my eyes at people that insist on it, or put it on thier stuff.


Like on a credit card bill saying Dr. So and so, that was yelling at a store clerk becauuse she said Mrs. So and So instead of Dr. So and so! That cured me of all notion that being called Dr. meant anything at all.
Well it is definitely a matter of personal preference, and I certainly didnt mean that people should go around insisting that everyone they meet who are peers should call them Dr. all the time. I just meant in terms of etiquette, etc. Maybe I came across too strong - no I am not going to walk around making everyone call me Dr. or put it on my credit cards! However, allycat0303, coming from someone who will be a MD its nice to hear that you dont have objections to either degree carrying the same title (if people wish to use it in formal situations).
 

diamondseeker2006

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Okay, this looks like a good place to ask this. My daughter is dating a chiropractor. So if they should get married, how would be do his name on the invitation?

John Doe Smith

Dr. John Doe Smith

Doctor John Doe Smith

And to add a little confusion, he is called by his middle name and really does not use his first name at all professionally.
 

liz

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I have a PhD, and I can tell you that only my students use the honorific "Dr." I''ve never received an invitation to a social event which addressed me as such, nor do I take offense at the lack of a title. It''s strictly a professional thing in the academic world.
 

LtlFirecracker

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I really don''t care. At the last wedding I was invited too, I was addressed as Ms, and I didn''t even notice (my BF did). And the last STD I just received did not have the title either. However, the couple are both doctors, and we don''t go around calling each other "doctor" IRL, so I can see them not doing it on the invitation.

I keep my title off all my bills and cards because I figure that 1) people will assume I have more money than I really do 2) they will start telling me about a family medical issue and ask for advice. I don''t mind someone I know doing that, but a total stranger while I am shopping?
 

Elmorton

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Date: 3/2/2009 10:45:37 AM
Author: liz
I have a PhD, and I can tell you that only my students use the honorific ''Dr.'' I''ve never received an invitation to a social event which addressed me as such, nor do I take offense at the lack of a title. It''s strictly a professional thing in the academic world.
Ditto this - Dr. is a professional term, not a social one. I do not call my colleagues who have doctorates "Dr." unless I''m introducing a colleague to a student/class or referring to a colleague in front of students. In terms of invite wording, I''d probably never address an invite to a phD doctor unless that person was my mentor/the invitation was for a professional event of some sort.

That''s why I think the etiquette rule itself is outdated - I think that calling a person Dr. when that title doesn''t relate to how you know the person or the event is a little bizzarre. I''ll hedge a bet that the reason why MD Drs are, according to etiquette rules, supposed to recieve a different title relates back to the time where a town had one doctor, thus everyone knew that person as Dr. Smith. Now that people in the same social set are typically equals in educational background and many more people have post-graduate degrees, I don''t think the etiquette of socially noting "Dr" is practical nor does it make a lot of sense.
 

Haven

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Date: 3/2/2009 11:27:25 AM
Author: Elmorton



Date: 3/2/2009 10:45:37 AM
Author: liz
I have a PhD, and I can tell you that only my students use the honorific 'Dr.' I've never received an invitation to a social event which addressed me as such, nor do I take offense at the lack of a title. It's strictly a professional thing in the academic world.
Ditto this - Dr. is a professional term, not a social one. I do not call my colleagues who have doctorates 'Dr.' unless I'm introducing a colleague to a student/class or referring to a colleague in front of students. In terms of invite wording, I'd probably never address an invite to a phD doctor unless that person was my mentor/the invitation was for a professional event of some sort.

That's why I think the etiquette rule itself is outdated - I think that calling a person Dr. when that title doesn't relate to how you know the person or the event is a little bizzarre. I'll hedge a bet that the reason why MD Drs are, according to etiquette rules, supposed to recieve a different title relates back to the time where a town had one doctor, thus everyone knew that person as Dr. Smith. Now that people in the same social set are typically equals in educational background and many more people have post-graduate degrees, I don't think the etiquette of socially noting 'Dr' is practical nor does it make a lot of sense.
Agreed on both accounts. The issue is about social titles versus professional titles. And really, my guess is that most brides nowadays rarely adhere to proper social titles all around, anyway. (Anyone here address invites to kids using "Master" and "Miss"?) That's your choice, and as long as you don't care how these choices will appear to those who do adhere to polite society's rules, then do what makes you happy.

Just for the record, I assume that my post is what caused the OP's reaction to the last thread. As I said in the other thread, please do not misinterpret my knowledge of etiquette with an endorsement of it. I think I made that quite clear in the last thread, so I will not repeat myself here.

Generally, I think it is best to understand the way society works so you will make informed decisions, whatever they may be. And honestly, it only really matters if you come from or are marrying into a family that lives by the rules of "polite society" and will have an opinion either way about an issue as tiny as this.

Only you know your own friends and family, and only you know whether your friends and family are in "the know" where etiquette is concerned, anyway. I think decisions about little things like these in life are all about choosing your battles, and knowing your audience.

bootsiekin, to answer your question about why some find it pretentious when people insist on being called "Dr.":
And as for the issue of recognition, I find it interesting that so many individuals need to be recognized in a social situation for their formal academic achievements. That, in my opinion, is where the whole issue of snobbery comes in--the need to be recognized in a social setting for something one pursued professionally or academically. (Since I'll likely be misunderstood--let me state that: I am not saying this is my opinion. I am merely offering a reason why I believe people think this desire to be called "Dr." socially constitutes snobbery.)
 

Haven

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Date: 3/2/2009 8:40:58 AM
Author: diamondseeker2006
Okay, this looks like a good place to ask this. My daughter is dating a chiropractor. So if they should get married, how would be do his name on the invitation?

John Doe Smith

Dr. John Doe Smith

Doctor John Doe Smith

And to add a little confusion, he is called by his middle name and really does not use his first name at all professionally.
It all depends on personal preference. If you would like to adhere to the strictest of etiquette rules, he would be "Mr. John Doe Smith" on the invitation. If not, he can call himself whatever he likes!
 

Hudson_Hawk

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Date: 3/2/2009 7:26:18 AM
Author: allycat0303
I have to agree with Julie.


I will be a MD but already hate it when people call me Dr. So does my sister who is an MD. She tells everyone to call her by her first name, and so do I. I am planning to do a phD (already have a master`s) in residency and don`t want people calling me Dr when I get that either.


Actually let''s be simple. I don`t want anyone calling me Dr. EVER. That and signing your name with all the initials on it, I didn`t get my degrees to have other people recognize it.


And I don`t have any objections to either degree calling themselves Dr. Although I have rolled my eyes at people that insist on it, or put it on thier stuff.


Like on a credit card bill saying Dr. So and so, that was yelling at a store clerk becauuse she said Mrs. So and So instead of Dr. So and so! That cured me of all notion that being called Dr. meant anything at all.
I have called Dr.''s (outside the office) by their first names and have been corrected WAY too many times to not call all doctors Dr. so and so when I first meet them. If they want to tell me to call them by their first name, that''s fine. Otherwise it''s Dr. until you tell me something different. However, that''s only for MDs. No offense to any Ph.Ds here, but I think it''s silly to call Ph.D.s "Doctor" in day to day life. I don''t have an objection to the title, I just think it''s silly.
 

neatfreak

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Date: 3/2/2009 3:13:43 PM
Author: Hudson_Hawk
Date: 3/2/2009 7:26:18 AM

Author: allycat0303

I have to agree with Julie.



I will be a MD but already hate it when people call me Dr. So does my sister who is an MD. She tells everyone to call her by her first name, and so do I. I am planning to do a phD (already have a master`s) in residency and don`t want people calling me Dr when I get that either.



Actually let''s be simple. I don`t want anyone calling me Dr. EVER. That and signing your name with all the initials on it, I didn`t get my degrees to have other people recognize it.



And I don`t have any objections to either degree calling themselves Dr. Although I have rolled my eyes at people that insist on it, or put it on thier stuff.



Like on a credit card bill saying Dr. So and so, that was yelling at a store clerk becauuse she said Mrs. So and So instead of Dr. So and so! That cured me of all notion that being called Dr. meant anything at all.

I have called Dr.''s (outside the office) by their first names and have been corrected WAY too many times to not call all doctors Dr. so and so when I first meet them. If they want to tell me to call them by their first name, that''s fine. Otherwise it''s Dr. until you tell me something different. However, that''s only for MDs. No offense to any Ph.Ds here, but I think it''s silly to call Ph.D.s ''Doctor'' in day to day life. I don''t have an objection to the title, I just think it''s silly.
While I agree it''s silly- why is it more silly than calling an MD "doctor" in daily life?
 

Hudson_Hawk

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Well obviously if you know the person well you wouldn''t call them Dr. but if it''s someone you''re just meeting...
 

RLG

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Date: 3/2/2009 3:13:43 PM
Author: Hudson_Hawk

Date: 3/2/2009 7:26:18 AM
Author: allycat0303
I have to agree with Julie.


I will be a MD but already hate it when people call me Dr. So does my sister who is an MD. She tells everyone to call her by her first name, and so do I. I am planning to do a phD (already have a master`s) in residency and don`t want people calling me Dr when I get that either.


Actually let''s be simple. I don`t want anyone calling me Dr. EVER. That and signing your name with all the initials on it, I didn`t get my degrees to have other people recognize it.


And I don`t have any objections to either degree calling themselves Dr. Although I have rolled my eyes at people that insist on it, or put it on thier stuff.


Like on a credit card bill saying Dr. So and so, that was yelling at a store clerk becauuse she said Mrs. So and So instead of Dr. So and so! That cured me of all notion that being called Dr. meant anything at all.
I have called Dr.''s (outside the office) by their first names and have been corrected WAY too many times to not call all doctors Dr. so and so when I first meet them. If they want to tell me to call them by their first name, that''s fine. Otherwise it''s Dr. until you tell me something different. However, that''s only for MDs. No offense to any Ph.Ds here, but I think it''s silly to call Ph.D.s ''Doctor'' in day to day life. I don''t have an objection to the title, I just think it''s silly.
As a soon to be MD, I don''t feel the need to be referred to by Dr. in everyday life by people I know. Nor would I introduce myself to anyone as Dr. RLG, except when I was in acting as a physician. The title of Dr. lends itself to a certain type of relationship with another individual and it would be a little weird to me to have a patient that I do not have a personal friendship with to walk up to me in the grocery store and say Hi RLG instead of Hi Dr. RLG. I probably did not articulate that very well, but it would be odd to me.
 

diamondseeker2006

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I have a friend who is an MD, and obviously I call her by her first name! But when I send her a Christmas card in the mail, I still address it Dr. Debi Smith. I don''t see a conflict with calling a friend by their name in person but addressing an invitation with their formal title, just as my friends would still address mine as Mrs. Diamond Seker on an envelope.
 

diamondseeker2006

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Date: 3/2/2009 3:12:08 PM
Author: Haven

Date: 3/2/2009 8:40:58 AM
Author: diamondseeker2006
Okay, this looks like a good place to ask this. My daughter is dating a chiropractor. So if they should get married, how would be do his name on the invitation?

John Doe Smith

Dr. John Doe Smith

Doctor John Doe Smith

And to add a little confusion, he is called by his middle name and really does not use his first name at all professionally.
It all depends on personal preference. If you would like to adhere to the strictest of etiquette rules, he would be ''Mr. John Doe Smith'' on the invitation. If not, he can call himself whatever he likes!
Thanks, Haven. I guess chiropractors are falling into the PhD category. I wasn''t sure about that. But since most people don''t know the strictest etiquette rules for something they haven''t dealt with, we''d probably let him choose how he''d like to have his name.
 

RLG

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What about a dentist? Do they follow the same as MD or PhD?
 

bootsiekin

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Maybe I should clarify..my post was more about addressing envelopes and place cards, not how you introduce yourself to someone in person or how you talk to your peers. I will certainly not introduce myself to others in a social setting as Dr. or expect people to call me that. Yes, I think anyone (MD, PhD, PharmD, OD, DDS, VMD, etc.) who would walk around with his or her nose in the air saying (demanding), "thats Doctor, to you!" would be very snobbish. That said, if I ran into my dentist, optometrist, professor, or veterinarian on the street - I would most definitely call them Dr. out of respect for their work and education (unless I was personally friends with them). I could also point out that for PhDs - they aren''t all professors working in academia and that isn''t the only reason for getting a PhD. I do not want to teach at all and plan to do pharmaceutical research with mine. I personally think that scientific research is just as important as MDs who are prescribing the drugs that people like me create.

However, if I am getting a piece of mail, I (and I know a lot of other people who feel this way) having a doctorate degree other than MD, would prefer that be addressed to Dr.LastName rather than Ms./Mrs./Mr. LastName. (I got some opinions before making my original post - and it was actually a fellow graduate student who sent me the links I posted from websites saying it was "proper" ie. socially acceptable, to address invitations to PhDs as Dr.) Of course there are some other posters that do not feel this way, and like I mentioned in an earlier post, it is up to personal preference how you want to be addressed.

Haven - not to worry, I wasn''t trying to attack or blame you, and I apologize if it seemed that way, but since those links are out there - it appears I am not the only person who feels doctorate degrees can be addressed as Dr. in addition to MDs and it being socially acceptable to do so (I''d hope so anyway being that they were on etiquette boards!)
 

Haven

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bootsiekin--I didn''t think you were attacking me at all, no worries!

As for those links, I do believe you can find anything out there on the Internet to support anything you''d like, especially where "proper etiquette" is concerned. We ordered our invites from Crane & Company, and we did so through a local Papyrus store. Throughout the process we worked with at least three different employees, all of whom espoused incorrect "advice" about proper etiquette, despite the fact that they worked for a stationer. I''ve also seen many sights that advocate the use of "request the honour of your presence" for weddings that are not held in a house of worship, and other similar things.

As soon as Judith Martin, Amy Vanderbilt, Emily Post, or Leticia Baldridge state that "Dr." is a proper social title for anyone who has earned a doctorate of any kind, I''ll happily change my own practice on the matter. But until the real experts (in my opinion, of course) say it is so, I''m holding out.
(And perhaps they have, and I just didn''t notice.)

That being said, I understand that times have changed, and I really don''t care *what* people want to be called. (I''ll call you "Your Highness" if you really need it, fine by me!) However, I come from a family that does care, and the fuss that would have ensued had we used the "incorrect" social titles in our own wedding and on our invites would have not been worth it AT ALL. It was just about choosing our battles, for us.

But back to the real question--why insist on using "Dr." in social situations in the first place?--I do find it interesting that some people feel the need to be recognized socially for their professional and academic endeavors. I work with many educators who hold PhDs, EdDs, and in more than a few cases, both, and the rare few who insist on being called "Dr." are certainly the same few who derive some sort of sense of pride out of being called "Dr." I just don''t get it, and since I personally don''t need the recognition from others, I find it hard to understand why some do. And, as I said earlier, I think that''s why some view it as being pretentious.

Call me old fashioned, but I rather prefer a world where our professional and social lives are good and separated, as they should be. But now that I think about it, perhaps this is a very American thing--to base our identity nearly entirely on our professional endeavors, since we all work so darn much. It is so strange to me that so many people cannot leave their work *at work* and relax, enjoy great conversation, great food, and a great party when they''re out socially. DH and I marvel at how little many people we meet at social occassions have to talk about beyond their jobs; it''s as if they only exist within their professional lives, and have nothing going on for them and no experiences beyond that. (I am SO not saying that anyone here has that problem--we do have diamonds to discuss, after all!) But now that I''ve written this out, it does seem like this desire or need to assert one''s professional "status" or achievement in one''s social life might be connected to our society''s obsession with work.

Heck--I blame it on our country! People need to enjoy themselves a little more, live a little more, and stop worrying so darn much about their careers. There, I said it. Who cares if you''re a doctor at work? Are you a delight to chat with over some wine and finger foods?
 

Haven

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Date: 3/2/2009 5:05:57 PM
Author: RLG
What about a dentist? Do they follow the same as MD or PhD?
A dentist earns a DDS, is that right? If so, traditional etiquette would follow that they do not use "Dr." socially.

But really, do what works for you. It doesn''t sound like many people adhere to traditional etiquette anymore, anyway.
 

Lulie

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John Doe Smith in all arenas imho.


Def a personal preference, I''m Lxxxxxx Nxxxxxxx, M.D but only in the medical circuit board, same goes to DH. Imho, Either way is fine.

 

katamari

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I am not a PhD yet (next year!
), but I would always prefer to be called Dr. over Mrs. I would also never pull rank when it was not applicable, like many of you. Many of my friends are professors, and a lot of women faculty have students who refer to them as Mrs. X instead of Dr. X, especially in the South. In this situation, I would tell the student to refer to me as Dr. X.

I find it interesting because MD is a relatively nouveau status position, so the fact that it has replaced the PhD is curious, but obvious. It would probably be better to just have different short title for the all the various doctorates a person can have.

Etiquette definitely perpetuates inequality, and emphasis on title is one way it does this. Of course, my big beef with etiquette is the sexism. The fact that it ignores the woman's first name is a bigger issue for me. I always, though, focus my anger structurally instead of personally, though, as the person adhering to etiquette had no intention to offend anyone.
 

ilovethiswebsite

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I don't know about the States, but in Canada the title DR. is regulated by the Health Professionals Act and differs across provinces. For example, in Ontario, only psychologist, physicians, optometrists, chiropractors, and dentists can call themselves Dr. in a public forum. All other PhD degrees are only allowed to be called a Dr. in a University or Hospital setting (where they are conducting research or teaching classes).



When sending out my invites, I will be addressing all these professions as Dr. out of respect. I don't think any of them would care if I didn't, though.
 

icekid

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Date: 3/2/2009 7:26:18 AM
Author: allycat0303
I have to agree with Julie.



Actually let''s be simple. I don`t want anyone calling me Dr. EVER. That and signing your name with all the initials on it, I didn`t get my degrees to have other people recognize it.
Haha.. this is so funny ally, because I feel the same way! The only problem with this, is after I introduce myself to a patient as First name Last name, they think I am their nurse for the rest of time. But seriously, this IS such a silly issue. I don''t know too many (normal) people to whom this is a big deal.

The other problem now is that I am sooo weirded out by anyone calling me Mrs. X! I think this stems mostly from me only seeing my name post-marriage as Dr. X and I don''t feel old enough to be a Mrs!
 

Tuckins1

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Ok. Whatever your personal thoughts are on PhD vs MD.... Both degrees warrant the title of "Dr". So, if you want to be proper, I think you should address them as such.
 

Haven

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Date: 3/2/2009 6:59:50 PM
Author: icekid
. . . But seriously, this IS such a silly issue. I don''t know too many (normal) people to whom this is a big deal.
Of course this is a silly issue, that''s why it is so interesting! (What would PS be without all the silly issues, anyway?)
 

CNOS128

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My mom wanted to err on the side of giving every possible person a title
so we addressed invitations to MDs, PhDs, and dentists as "Doctor [name]." I have a relative who is a judge and on the envelope she was "The Honorable [name]."
 

bootsiekin

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Thank you Tuckins and kata! I was hoping someone would chime in with an opinion similar to mine.

Haven - I understand where you are coming from with the "experts," and you are right about finding everything on the internet!

I also agree with your mentioning keeping social and professional aspects separate would be ideal - but why are MDs exempt from this option? Why is it only other doctorates that must keep their professional titles out of the social circle? Thats what I was trying to point out.

I suppose I also always followed a rule of thumb that Tuckins pointed out - all the degrees that carry the word "doctor" in their full name I would address as Dr. That includes: MD, PhD, DDS, DVM, DCM, PharmD, etc. To me, there is a reason for the "D" to be in there.

Its funny - I have asked a couple people about this and most people I have asked never even heard of only MDs being addressed as doctors socially, so maybe my social circle doesnt know the rules of being socially acceptable.
haha!
 
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