About half of my classmates at Stanford Medical School had PhD degrees. These med school classmates wanted training in the practice of medicine to supplement their training in a separate discipline. When we started our clinical rotations, everyone was introduced to patients as “Mr.” or “Ms.” It would have been inconceivable for a medical school classmate to introduce himself or herself to a patient as “Doctor Jones” on the basis of a PhD in biochemistry. Had any of my PhD classmates introduced themselves to a patient as “Doctor Jones,” he or she likely would receive an immediate sanction. Had the practice continued, I expect the student would have been expelled.

The reason for the expulsion would have been dishonesty. To patients, the word “doctor” unambiguously implies a physician with either an MD degree, a DO degree, or an equivalent...

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