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December 22, 1945

THE TERM "DOCTOR" IN AMERICA

JAMA. 1945;129(17):1168. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860510034012
Abstract

Dr. Edward M. Repp of Philadelphia has a question for the medical Emily Post. His daily work requires occasional conferences with his druggist and also with the head of a laboratory who examines specimens. Should he address these associates as doctor or mister? In the neighborhood where he resides are also an osteopath, a chiropractor and a chiropodist. These too he meets occasionally while en route on his medical tasks; he never knows whether to say "doctor" or something different. A similar question disturbed Hugh J. McDonald,1 who discussed the subject not long ago in the Journal of Higher Education. A survey of the graduate degrees awarded by the colleges and schools of New York State during 1937 reveals thirteen types of doctors' degrees awarded during the year. The term "doctor," originally the equivalent of teacher or instructor, according to McDonald, seems to have originated among the Romans, who

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