Can an MBBS Graduates Put Dr. or Doctor in their Name?

The word ‘doctor’ is derived from the Latin word ‘docere’ which means to teach. Literally speaking, the term doctor was meant to be for someone who teaches. Eventually, it took turns and came to refer to a highly learned person (capable of teaching). Thus, the abbreviation Dr. (Doctor) is often used as a prefix to the names of scholars. It has played significant role throughout history, to differentiate between the highly educated and the skilled. The highest form of education is called a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) and is attainable in a vast array of fields, following a strict step by step system of a Bachelors’ degree, followed by a Masters’ degree, eventually followed by the Ph.D., to deem someone as a Doctor.

Despite being reserved for the most scholarly, it does not come off as a surprise to us when someone refers to practitioners of medicine as doctors. Does that imply that all medical practitioners called doctors have attained the highest form of education in medicine? No  MBBS, despite being only a Bachelors’ degree in India, is a standalone pre-requisite for practicing medicine in India with a legal license. All leaders of the field of medicine, those who cure people, are labelled as doctors.

To answer the question, Yes. MBBS graduates can abbreviate Dr. beside their names.


It may seem unfair to others that a practitioner of medicine can be called a doctor without having attained the ‘ultimatum of knowledge’. However, this practice has been there since ages and seems to have stuck with us to the present day. Such usage of the abbreviation is prominent in the UK and its past colonies (or the members of the Commonwealth such as New Zealand, South Africa and Australia) as well as the US, and is dominantly global now.

The system having been adopted from the British, traces back its history to the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons. They granted an array of degrees including LRCP (Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians), LRCS (Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons), LRFP&S (Licentiate, Royal Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons), MRCS (Member of the Royal College of Surgeons) and something as strange as LMSSA (Licentiate of The Most Sacred Society of Apothecaries). Back then, the holder of any of these degrees were granted the title of a doctor, thereby, flipping its meaning altogether. The term ‘doctor’ shifted fromsignifyingthe scholarly to ‘a person who is qualified to treat the ill’. And an MBBS degree qualifies its students to treat ill people, hence qualifying them as ‘doctors’.


The reason for such adoption of the terminology cannot be exactly pin-pointed. However, it is popularly believed that the cause of such entitlement to holders of a bachelors’ degree was to given them an honorary title. Healers were deemed equivalent to Gods by our ancestors, the field of medicine has always been considered as one of the most noble professions, therefore, the title being granted as a courtesy and a token of appreciation. Such nobility behind this profession is why it is one of the most sought-after degrees across the globe today. In India, even practitioners of the Ayush system of medicine, which involves Ayurveda, Yoga, Hakim, Sidhar and Homeopathy, are also referred to as doctors by the masses. Historically, dentists and veterinary surgeons were not granted this noble title but over the years, people have recognized the value of non-mainstream subjects in medicine. Today, all practitioners, including dentists, are called doctors. Therefore, if one pursues dentistry as their major during the course of their MBBS, they are still entitled to call themselves doctors.


Many people today still have immense respect for the profession and continue to treat it the same way as our ancestors did. Some strongly believe that the title of a doctor is justified to a medical practitioner. They considered a doctor as someone who is proficient in what he does since there is no scope for mistakes in the field. A medical doctor is adept in his field, having the knowledge of all that he should have of, being aware of all diseases, always learning what’s new, an in-depth knowledge of the human body and much more. The study of medicine to this day is much more intensive to other counterparts. While an academic doctorate spends immense time and effort into learning, so does the medical practitioner. While an academic doctor must know all possible knowledge of a specific field of expertise, a medical doctor must know all possible knowledge of disease and medicine. Such knowledge is to be granted to medical practitioners to be able to operate or examine on a living subject.

Whether holding a Bachelors’, Masters’ or a Ph.D. in Medicine, one is bound to be called a doctor and receive his/her license. The title is accepted by both, the masses and the administrations all around the globe. Therefore, the MBBS title that comes with the title of a doctor is bound to stay for many upcoming years.