The battle over use of the term “Doctor” still, and will remain a hot issue.  I have read articles on this over and over within our profession, but here is a good article about clinical doctorates as a whole.  Interesting to hear about other professions (nursing, pharmacy, etc.) getting a backlash out of this too. 

Check it out here

I know you have an opinion.  What are your thoughts as a physical therapist?


  1. I think the article is right about the backlash, and it’s different state to state for DPTs. In NYS, any profession with a doctorate can call themselves Dr, but we just have to say, physical therapist, chiropractic, pharmacist, etc. What they get wrong is that it is financially motivated to get more pay from the insurance companies. We do it b/c the scope of our profession requires more schooling than a BS or MS allowed. It will hopefully get us direct access in each state, but while part of that may be financial, it is only for because we can diagnose mechanical disorders BETTER than other professions, not because we should get reimbursed more (even though we should – but that is also region to region). The public deserves freedom and access to their practitioner of choice. I proudly call myself doctor in the clinic. What I hate the most is PTs who have gone back for either trainsitionals, or PTs without a doctorate that refuse to acknowledge the title. I tell all my students to call themselves doctor. Many of them end up working for a BS or MSPT employer who tells them not to, but THEY CAN’T. I know nurses and pharmacists also have the same issues with infighting within their own profession. That is a entirely different, but related issue! – Dr. E

    1. Dr. E,
      Thanks for the reply! I know this is a hot topic out there for not just our profession, but many healthcare fields. I agree that it is not financial motivation for us, even though it can be seen that way. We know the research, patients with MSK complaints can get better faster, cheaper cost and return to work to decrease time off of work, disability, etc. There are many studies available.
      You make very good points above and this type of information should continue to be exposed to the public.


    2. I went to a 3 year program and got my DPT. I do not think you should call yourself Dr. if you work in healthcare. It creates too much confusion with patients and co-workers. Just my opinion. I prefer to be called by my first name anyways. Just one way to build a relationship with patients.

      Getting your DPT is great and all, but to be honest, there is nothing that we can’t do that a PT with a BA can’t do. We bill the same to Medicare. There is no difference. And in a lot of cases we get paid less since pay is based on experience not degree.

      Our schooling is no way comparable to going to Med School.

      Your performance determines how much respect you get. Not the title you use introduce to yourself.

      1. Aaron,
        Thanks for commenting and you do make very good points. I refer to myself as my first name too. I feel if we spend 30-45 minutes and 6-8 weeks 1:1 with a patient, first name basis can definitely provide more satisfaction and alliance between patient and clinician.

  2. If you work in the health profession and want to call yourself Dr – i think you need to have gone to medical school. There is a world of difference between the difficulty of getting in and completing medical school versus any other health profession. It is also misleading to patients. The diminution in traditional pastoral values is a by-product of allied health professionals seeking more medical prestige. What they don’t realize is the reason that Medicine has traditionally attracted that prestige is because of the inherent difficulty of the course and the risks associated with daily practice.

    If you didn’t go to medical school – you are not a “Dr”. You can be John Smith, PHD etc but you should not address yourself as Dr Smith unless you are a medical doctor. It confuses the community.

    I am not a medical doctor by the way. I am a cardiac clinician so I get to witness first hand a great many allied health professions seeking what the Drs have and not recognising that what they have is earnt. Get an MD and then call yourselves Dr – otherwise you are rocking the boat for no apparent reason other than vanity.

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