Addressing physicians

  1. How do you address physicians in Australia/NZ? Are they called Dr. So-and-so? As I understand it, a physician in Australia/NZ is not an MD but an MBBS is that right? What about surgeons?
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    Joined: Sep '04; Posts: 357; Likes: 78
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  3. by   joannep
    Officially a doctor is called Dr So and so, and a surgeon is called Mr So and so. With a lady surgeon it is Ms So and so.

    Working with a doctor on a long term basis in a team environment will allow barriers to fall and it would be accepted to call them by their first name, ie, in theatre, ED.
    However, it would be unacceptable to call any doctor by their first name when a patient/client is present.
    Surgeons are of course primadonna's and many require you to address them as Sir. But like any work place, in time you break down barriers and may be permitted to address them by their first name.
  4. by   NeuroNP
    Quote from joannep
    Officially a doctor is called Dr So and so, and a surgeon is called Mr So and so. With a lady surgeon it is Ms So and so.
    Why is it that Surgeons are Mr and Ms and not Dr when Physicians are Dr? Don't they get the same degree?
  5. by   talaxandra
    Trainee surgeons are still "Dr", until they're Fellows of the Australian College of Surgeons (FRACS). The use of "Mr/Ms" in Australia follows the British tradition and is an honorary title indicating that the surgeon has advanced experience and training.
    Unlike Joanne's experience, where I work it's common practice for the junior doctors to introduce themselves to patients by their first names, and are often referred to be nursing and other staff in the same way; consultants are usually referred to as Doctor So-and-So.
  6. by   Sabby_NC
    When I trained at the hospital in which I spent a good part of my nursing career which turned out to be 22yrs I got to know the Drs that visited there very well.
    Dr is the title for visiting physicians etc but for surgeons it was Mr.
    We were very priveledged to work with awesome Drs that we all called by their first names and they greeted us by christian name.
    Some of those Drs became family friends which was even more wonderful.
    Never anything but professional in front of the p/client but in the office or walking down the corridor or phone calls it was first name basis.
    We noticed a huge difference n the whole demeanor of the place after the hospital stated it would be fine to use first names.
    Now those were the days that hospitals were places you would even go to work with a broken leg to do your part.
  7. by   bethem
    I call the docs by their first names, without exception. They also call me by my first name, again without exception. I also kidded a doctor (a consultant, no less) today about being impervious to disease, because he was going in and out of an MRSA patient's room without any PPE. I questioned the hidden super-powers of a doctor who apparently shares a name with a character from Smallville. I work with good docs.
  8. by   bluetack
    the area i am in now is very informal, everyone from the residents to the consultants are called by their first names by nursing staff, and likewise for us. the ward i worked on previously was more formal, you wouldn't dare call any of the consultants or most of the registrars by anything than dr. i much prefer the informal
  9. by   Grace Oz
    And ........ sometimes they get called other names! LOL
  10. by   ROSYJO11
    i've been nursing since 1990 and I've never heard a doctor/surgeon been referred to as a Mr or Mrs!

    All doctors/surgeons/anaesthetists/consultants I have ever worked with have been referred to as Dr.

    In a range of hospitals, small/large/public/private but all in QLD

  11. by   pie_face
    I find a simple my lord, your highness or simply god is the correct form of address
  12. by   tiij
    all doctors are Dr. except surgeons who are Mr. or Ms. anethesists are doctors too.

    ive never called a doctor "dr so and so" always first name. ive never spoken much to consultants, but those that i have ive called them bu their first name. although.. i have noticed that the residents and registrars call their constultant.. or surgeon "Mr. last name" and they were good buddies.. so i gather they perfered that.
  13. by   veritas
    in lay man terms, all doctors are called doctors! its confusing with the mr and doc differentiation. a surgeon has to be a doc before he becomes a sugeon anyway. so all surgeons and physicians get the MBBS first, which is equivalent to the MD in USA. MBBS is a british thing which british-colonised countries adopted. it's weird calling a surgeon mr.... sounds like he is not a doctor?
  14. by   talaxandra
    "Surgeon Titles: Dr. vs. Mr.By Mr. Rodney Croft

    While surgeons carry the appellation "Dr." in the USA and other parts of the world, in the UK they are referred to as "Mr." How has this anomaly arisen?
    Academically, in order to be called "Dr." one must hold a doctoral degree (the highest academic degree in any field of knowledge), such as Doctor of Medicine, M.D., or Doctor of any other discipline. In the USA, an M.D. is a licensing qualification to practice medicine, whereas in Britain, an M.D. is a postgraduate thesis degree. In order to practice medicine in Britain, students must attain a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery degree (MB and BS). Therefore they are not, in the strictest sense, "doctors." However, once graduated in Britain, all graduates are referred to as Doctor, as are consultant and trainee physicians and other specialists--all except surgeons.

    The word "doctor" is derived from the Latin doctor-oris, meaning teacher or instructor, and in Middle English (c. 1150-1500) it became used for any learned man or medical practitioner. The title "Mr." is a 16th century English variant of Master, derived from the Latin Magister, which means master or teacher. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, most surgery in Europe was performed in monasteries by monks and their assistants, the barbers. As well as cutting hair and shaving, barbers helped with blood-letting.

    The Medieval Universities were founded to teach subjects, including medicine, which had no place in the ecclesiastical curriculum. Salerno was one of the first medical schools and was established by the middle of the 11th century. Courses were initially available to physicians and surgeons, but not to apothecaries.

    In 1123 CE, Pope Calistas II decreed that monks must not shed blood, and it was this ruling that resulted in the teaching of surgeons being forbidden in church-dominated universities. Surgeons, therefore, served an apprenticeship, whilst physicians spent four years at university, leading to a Bachelor of Medicine degree and a possible further thesis leading to a Doctorate. The Pope's ruling also resulted in a great boost to the barbers, who now performed dental extractions and fracture treatments as well as blood-letting. Because of their increased role, they became known as the barber-surgeons, and monks then administered only to the spiritual needs of patients.

    At this time, true surgeons also developed. They were more skilled than the barber-surgeons, but were apprenticed and not university trained, and therefore could not style themselves as "doctors."

    In 1493 English surgeons decided to enter a working agreement with the barber-surgeons, and this association was given Royal assent in 1540 when Henry VIII, by Act of Parliament, united the two groups under the name of "Masters, Governors of the Mystery and Commonalty of Barbers and Surgery of London." From this time, by Royal edict the barbers could only perform barbery and extraction of teeth, and the surgeons had to refrain from cutting hair and shaving people! King Henry VIII gave each member of this newly formed group the right to be addressed as "Master," and in time "Master" was pronounced "Mr." So when a British Surgeon is addressed as "Mr." he is actually being honoured, as in reality he is being called "Master." Female surgeons are called Miss, Ms. or Mrs.

    The association of surgeons and barber-surgeons lasted until 1745, when the surgeons petitioned the English parliament for a separation that lasts to this day. The barber-surgeons are now represented by the Benevolent Barbers' City Livery Company.

    For a more extensive response see

    And a couple of medical articles about the contentious nature of the title:;

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