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Perusing Twitter this morning I came across an excerpt from an Op-ed article by Joseph Epstein in the Wall Street Journal.

Epstein has taken issue with Dr Jill Biden daring to use her title. However, I’m struggling to figure out what the motivation for this was? Politics, sheer ignorance, jealousy, insecurity? Oh no wait, I’ve got it – just good old fashioned bucket loads of sexism and misogyny. To be fair, it is probably all of the above, smooshed together to form a dribbling rage attack that he couldn’t contain.

So, let’s break this down a bit. To Epstein, her use of the title Dr. seems “fraudulent” and “comic”. Why does the idea of a woman having that title seem so unlikely and farcical to you? You go on to then undermine your own argument by stating she does in fact possess an Ed.D – a “doctor of education”. There might be a bit hint in there for you Joseph!

I guess then that what you take issue with is someone without a medical qualification calling themselves ‘doctor’. In that case, I think you may be out of luck again. The title of Doctor granted to medics after they graduate from their medical Degree (MBChB for example), is an entirely honorary title. I don’t say this to diminish the medical profession, but the truth is that the real title of doctor is reserved for those who have gone through the educational hurdles to obtain a doctorate (such as PhD, EngD, EdD) – including medical professionals who go further in their studies.

Whether non-medical people with a doctorate should use the title Dr. has been a hot debate for many years. However, considering the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that it takes to obtain such a prestigious qualification, I for one think they should wear it with pride. it is, after all, an incredible achievement, taking years of their life to accomplish!

I have many colleagues and friends who hold doctorates and I’d say around half use the title, whereas others sometimes put PhD after their name in appropriate contexts. However, the idea that they should be told whether or not to use a title they have truly earned is just ridiculous. The very fact that Epstein feels that a non-medical doctor, especially a woman, using their rightful title is deceitful or laughable just speaks volumes about his attitude towards educated women.

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