Jim Preston wrote that he was confused about so many people using the title “doctor.” The word “doctor” comes from a Latin word, “docere,” which means “to teach.” The title was accorded to early Christian theologians and to the scholars of early European universities, centuries before physicians misappropriated the term.
Doctoral degrees, such as the PhD and EdD, are considered “terminal degrees,” meaning that they are the highest degrees one can earn in a discipline. Medical degrees, like law and dentistry, are considered “first professional degrees,” which might be considered a step lower on the academic ladder. Physicians are not the only discipline that can claim the title “doctor.” In some countries, physicians are accorded a bachelor’s degree, not a doctoral degree.
Greater access to higher education and changing expectations for the educational preparation of many disciplines have resulted in the expanding number of those who can use the title “doctor.”