June 01, 2015


 Trust me, I’m a doctor now

Posted May 13, 2015

Veterinary surgeons in the United Kingdom have been given permission to use the courtesy title “Dr.” following a decision made by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Council on March 5. The common courtesy used by U.K. veterinarians up until this time has been “Prof.”

The decision follows a stakeholder survey in which 81 percent were in favor of the change, 13 percent against, and 6 percent had no preference. Nearly 50 percent of the 11,202 respondents to the survey were veterinary surgeons, 22 percent were veterinary students, 21 percent were animal-owning members of the public, and the rest were veterinary nurses, veterinary nurse students, practice managers, and non–animal-owning members of the public.

The issue had been raised in a bid to align the U.K. with international practice, providing greater clarity for the profession and offering reassurance to clients and the animal-owning public that all veterinary surgeons registered with the RCVS, regardless of where they qualified, have veterinary degrees of an appropriate standard, according to an RCVS press release.

Prof., or rather, Dr. Stuart Reid, RCVS president, said when the survey was sent out, “This is an opportunity to provide, for those U.K. veterinary surgeons who wish it, the legitimate use of a title that offers a level of parity with fellow medical professionals.”

Of the three main clinical degrees in the U.K.—medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine—only veterinary surgeons had not used the courtesy title “Dr.,” unlike veterinarians in Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and North America, whose use of the title is tied to recognition and professional standing rather than academic attainment.

“I am delighted that such a strong message came from both the public and the profession on this issue,” said RCVS CEO Nick Stace. “We have a responsibility to maintain confidence in the veterinary profession, and this move will help underline to the public in particular that veterinary surgeons work to very high standards, regardless of where they qualified.”

Use of the title is optional, and guidance has been produced to support the change. For example, veterinary surgeons are encouraged when using “Dr.” to do so in conjunction with their name and either the descriptor “veterinary surgeon” or the designation “MRCVS.”