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So you worked hard in the lab for all those years. You endured failed experiments, committees, over-bearing supervisors, thesis writing, and thesis defending. And for what?

Well, who knows? But no matter where your PhD takes you in life, you can always rely on one thing: you can call yourself “Dr” whenever you want to. And, as these 10 ways to use your “Dr” title show, that can be more useful than you might think.

Now, most people I know who have a PhD do not call themselves “Dr” routinely, instead leaving that to those guys who have the skills to save your life with a tracheotomy. But used sparingly, your Dr title can be fun, rewarding, or downright evil.

Here at the BsB office, we’ve come up with our top 10 ways to use your Dr title to the full…

10 Ways to Use Your Dr Title

1. First Class… For Freeee!!!!

Anecdotal evidence suggests that using your Dr title when booking flights and hotels can increase your chances of getting a free upgrade. Also, having “Dr” on your bank card seems to make the guys at the phonebank treat you more politely. That’s just our opinion though – what are your experiences with this?

2. Annoy Egomaniacs

You may have noticed that there are some people in the world who have a “Superiority Complex”. That is, they are not happy unless they are top dog and everyone knows it. This sort of person is normally quite annoying to people drawn into their Superiority Fiefdom.

But (assuming this is not happening in the lab) you, doctor, have a secret weapon that will take them down a peg or two. For it seems that the mere mention of the title “Dr” hits a very raw nerve with the alpha-person-wannabes and provides endless entertainment for all involved.

3. Be an Egomaniac

If you are actually one of those alpha-person-wannabes, you could impress everyone around you by using grandiose taglines to describe yourself, just like that real egomaniac non-medical doctor, Dr Who.

You could go for something plain and simple like “I am The Doctor”. But why not push the boat out and try this for introducing yourself to people at cocktail parties:  “I’m The Doctor. I’m a Time Lord. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I’m nine hundred and three years old and I’m the man who’s going to save your lives and all six billion people on the planet below.

Demand the respect you deserve, doctor.

4. Impress your Relatives

The perennial benefit of having a PhD is that your (non-scientist, non-medical) relatives are always impressed by the fact that you could call yourself Dr, if you really wanted to. Numerous possibilities arise from this.

5. Career Choices

Another obvious benefit of your PhD is that it opens career doors for you. It closes some too. But overall, with Dr on your business card, you should be generally more employable and have more choices in your career path than without it. Check out some career options here.

6. Get Free Parking*

Here’s one you might not have thought about. If you are visiting any major hospital, don’t forget to take full advantage of your PhD by using the spaces that have been set aside just for special people like you. They are normally quite close to the entrance and marked “Doctor”. An amazing fringe-benefit that you thoroughly deserve for all those years of hard work.

7. Dr Dr

If you are actually a tracheotomy-performing, reserved-space-using medical doctor and you also get a PhD, you can confuse the hell out of people by being a “Dr Dr” or “Dr X Phd”. We tried to figure out what would happen if you’re a surgeon who gets a PhD, but stopped when our brains began to overheat.

8. Find Out What’s Wrong with You in Words of More than Two Syllables

I recently found out that registering yourself as Dr X (using your own name in place of X obviously) with your doctor’s surgery has an interesting benefit. That is, if the doctor has to explain something to you they will tend to be more technical in their explanation of your medical problem.

Of course, you could just tell them that you’re a scientist and ask them to give you more detail, but the “Dr” tag means you automatically get the advanced-level description. This is just my experience. Yours, of course, will depend on your doctor.

9. Dress (Non)-Sense

As laid out by the thesis committee that awarded the first ever PhD in Paris in 1150, attaining a PhD apparently gives you the right to forgo any sense of fashion and wear things like bow ties and elbow pads on your jacket. Yes, even if you are a woman.

You also have the right to go the other way and dress beach bum every day when you go to work. You have a piece of paper that says you are respectable, why do you need nice clothes to say the same?

and finally…

10. Use Your Dr Title to Get an Instant Superhero or Rapper Monicker

When your parents named you, they probably didn’t think you’d be inserting “Dr” at the start of your name. So your title may inadvertently give you a cool name that resonates in popular culture, like Dr Livingston, Dr Phil, or maybe even Dr Who.

This can be taken even further: my (Nick Oswald) initials mean the second I got my PhD I became the infamous Dr NO, while our very own Martin Wilson became the footwear and fashion icon Dr Martin (Marten).

And a former colleague of mine, one D. Reuter, became Dr DRE when the admin people at the company we worked for used the abbreviation “DRE” for his name in meeting minutes.

These are our 10 ways to use your Dr title to benefit you and those around you. Please feel free to share your suggestions, experiences, or superhero monikers with us in the comments section!

*Re: number 6. Of course, this one is a joke, please DON’T park in the doctors’ spaces at the hospital!

Originally published February 20, 2013. Reviewed and updated February 2021.

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  1. Here is the correct information. The terminal degree PhD came before the medical degree. As a person living in England my medical degree is an MBBS, a bachelor’s degree. At work I can use the courtesy title “doctor”. On my credit cards I must use the social title “mister”. Now the word doctor is Greek and literally means “teacher”. So my PhD grants me a license to teach at a university and I may use it socially because I am no longer a mister, a master or a licencate, I am a doctor. The problem came about when North America began misusing the MD degree. In Europe (where doctorates were invented) the MD is a higher level doctorate (higher than a PhD) whereas in North America the MD is a professional doctorate, like the LLD, the DVM, the DDS, the DPham, etc. I have a friend who is Dr. X, MBBS, MD. His medical degree is rightly a bachelor’s degree and his MD is rightly a higher level doctorate. To avoid confusion I would recommend that medical doctors, vets, dentists describe themselves as such (eg; “Dr. Y, physician” and doctorates describe themselves as such (eg: Dr. Z, PhD).

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