When can a Medical Student be called a Doctor?

We lost many doctors worldwide due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the loss to humankind is indescribable. The first line warriors who left their homes and families only to save the lives of the many unknowns without questioning their own security indeed showed us what dedication is all about. The innumerable years they put into their degree and practice to be an authorized figure to wear the white cat, and stethoscope and to add Dr. before their name truly needs a lot of patience and perseverance. Here we will see about When can a Medical Student be called a Doctor?

The journey from a student to a doctor includes hours of hard work with assignments, studies, internships, practice, and a lot more. Once enrolled in a med school, you are not conferred with the title ‘Dr.’.  Until you are a graduate with an MBBS(Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) and MD(Doctor of Medicine) you are not allowed to use the title of a doctor. 

Keep reading to find out about the journey of being a doctor, how everything takes place, and the phases it follows:

When can a Medical Student be called a Doctor?

How to get into medical in the US

In the United States, medical degrees are considered second entry degrees, which implies that you cannot enrol in a Medicine Bachelor’s programme right away. You must first obtain a Bachelor’s (undergraduate) degree in a comparable Science discipline before enrolling to medical school (common alternatives include Biology and Chemistry).

  • High school diploma
  • Undergraduate degree in the field of Sciences (3-4 years)
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • Good TOEFL language scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Minimum MCAT exam result (set by each university individually)

For more details on the MCAT exam: https://students-residents.aamc.org/taking-mcat-exam/taking-mcat-exam 

When can someone call themselves a doctor?

The journey from being a medical student to a doctor in years varies accordingly. In the US, it takes up to 4-5 years to complete their graduation in MBBS or MD, which means a student is around 25-26 when they are conferred with their degree. 

However, you are not awarded the title in any formal event. If you are in your final year, you still cannot call yourself a doctor. The day after you finish your degree you can officially use the title ‘Doctor’. You might be a practitioner or someone who recently joined the hospital, you can call yourself a ‘Doctor’ as soon as you finish your graduation. 

Doctor in medical science v/s Ph.D.

The title of a doctor should not be confused with the one that is conferred on studying medical sciences by someone who has done detailed research on a particular topic. 

Despite the fact that their titles are the same, they are substantially different. Ph.D. stands for Doctor of Philosophy which implies studies of various subsequences and horizons in their dedicated field of interest. 

Why is a surgeon called Mr. instead of doctor?

Although in the US surgeons are referred to as “Doctors’, in Uk, it is not the same. Surgeons, there are referred to as Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms. This is because, beginning in the Middle Ages, physicians were required to complete formal university studies to obtain a degree in medicine before they could practice. The degree, a doctorate, awarded the title of ‘Doctor of Medicine or Doctor.

Until the mid-nineteenth century, surgeons received separate training. They were not obliged to attend university in order to get a degree; instead, they worked as an apprentice to a surgeon. They were then subjected to an examination. After 1745, the Surgeons’ Company in London handled this, and after 1800, The Royal College of Surgeons. If they were successful, they were awarded a diploma rather than a degree, thus they could not use the title “Doctor” and had to settle with “Professor.” If they were successful, they were awarded a diploma rather than a degree, thus they could not use the title ‘Doctor’ and had to settle with the title ‘Mr’.

Following that, a period of postgraduate education and training in junior positions is required before achieving full consultant surgeon rank. As a result, the tradition of referring to a surgeon as Mr/Miss/Ms/Mrs has persisted, meaning that a person begins as Mr/Miss/Ms/Mrs, progresses to Dr, and then returns to Mr/Miss/Ms/Mrs!


The years of practice and hard work all come down to one word- Doctor. The journey is quite memorable for an individual and looking back at the pages with a smile is what makes all of it worth remembering. In the US, it is all about completing your medical degree earnestly and later living your life with priceless dignity and respect. The pandemic has indeed taught us why this profession is considered noble and is one that truly needs endless sacrifices.

Frequently asked questions

1) How to apply for med schools in the UK?

Applying for Med schools in the UK follows a similar procedure to the one in the Us. Here’s more information: https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/application-process-to-mbbs-from-uk-articlepage-588 

2) Are Med schools expensive?

Yes, Med schools are expensive.