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greenfathoms
04-06-2017, 04:01 AM
In doing research for a story, I came across the fact that in Britain, surgeons who have fully qualified are addressed as Mister as opposed to Doctor. The tradition apparently goes back to the time when being a surgeon did not require a university degree. Does anyone know what the practice is in Australia? If specific place and time matters, the story is set between 1960 and 1975, and the character originally comes from Western Australia. My own research has been conflicting, but it's pointing to Australian surgeons being addressed as Mr versus Dr.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

Helix
04-06-2017, 04:15 AM
I don't know about the period in question, but, IME, the most of the specialists I've spoken to are Dr. It might just be that they've given up the battle to get patients to call them by alternative honorifics. Also a lot of them are women.

(I have encountered one general surgeon who insisted on Mr.)

Albedo
04-06-2017, 04:16 AM
I've only met one in Sydney who insisted on 'Mr', and he was an preeminent Oxbridge-educated surgeon who wore a bow tie. All the rest seem happy going by 'Dr'. But that's in the 2010s. Back in the 60s there were probably a lot more who insisted on the 'proper' title. I could ask my parents for you, they were medical trainees in Australia in the 70s.

veinglory
04-06-2017, 04:32 AM
Doctor is generally used either as accurate or by courtesy. That's an old tradition that does back to the UK when surgeons might not have a formal claim to the title, but were still generally given it by courtesy.

waylander
04-06-2017, 02:47 PM
I would think it may depend on where the character in question trained. If they spent any time in the UK then they may well use Mr, if they were in the US then Dr.

WeaselFire
04-06-2017, 08:20 PM
Had a friend who is a PhD who filled out a theft report in Britain and the officer asked for his title. He thought about it and said "doctor." The officer responded "A real one or just a physician?"

As an aside, my friend filled out the form so he had an insurance record but the officer told him they would call when they had his missing cameras. He kind of dismissed it, but got a call at his hotel later that afternoon telling him to come and pick up his stolen items. A lot of difference for just a bunch or water between us. :)

Jeff

blacbird
04-06-2017, 09:44 PM
I thought it was "mate".

caw

Helix
04-07-2017, 02:18 AM
I would think it may depend on where the character in question trained. If they spent any time in the UK then they may well use Mr, if they were in the US then Dr.

UWA, I'm guessing.

greenfathoms
04-07-2017, 09:38 PM
I think I may just use the title "doctor" for clarity's sake, since there doesn't seem to be a clear-cut rule, and otherwise it may cause confusion depending on the audience reading. I did plan to have the character be educated in Australia, not the UK.

Thanks much for the responses.

Albedo
04-08-2017, 03:53 AM
I checked with my boss, who reckons that it was nearly all 'Mr' as late as the 1970s. (Boss trained in Tasmania in the 70s/early 80s, caveat that Tasmania is weird.)

Roxxsmom
04-08-2017, 03:59 AM
I've only met one in Sydney who insisted on 'Mr', and he was an preeminent Oxbridge-educated surgeon who wore a bow tie. All the rest seem happy going by 'Dr'. But that's in the 2010s. Back in the 60s there were probably a lot more who insisted on the 'proper' title. I could ask my parents for you, they were medical trainees in Australia in the 70s.

I never understood why "mister," which is the generic salutation for all men, is considered a step up from "doctor"?

As a person with a Ph.D., I struggle to get students to call me "dr" these days...

Albedo
04-08-2017, 04:07 AM
I never understood why "mister," which is the generic salutation for all men, is considered a step up from "doctor"?

As a person with a Ph.D., I struggle to get students to call me "dr" these days...
It was sort of ironic pride: a recognition of their lowly origin as barber-surgeons (who weren't doctors).

Do they call you 'Prof'? Cos that's a very distinguished title in UK/Australian English (not saying you're not very distinguished!) whereas it seems to be a generic term for teaching academics in the US. Here a department might have only one or two professors, a few associate professors, and most of the rest are lecturers. Only the professors can call themselves such.

MaggieMc
04-08-2017, 04:09 AM
Hi Greenfathoms,
Can't answer for 1970 unfortunately, but I can tell you that these days it is Dr. I had surgery last year and saw 3 surgeons (joy). All use Dr.

_Sian_
04-09-2017, 12:00 PM
Brief aside on what Albedo was saying:

*struggles to remember whether she ever called any of her lecturers anything else other than by their first name....*

I don't even remember if any of them were professors? It's not like they went around announcing their job title.

That being said, I did notice in the UK that the formal terms are much more prevalent. Like Ms or Sir for teaches. (Ie, what did Sir say)?

Mark HJ
04-12-2017, 06:43 PM
Had a friend who is a PhD who filled out a theft report in Britain and the officer asked for his title. He thought about it and said "doctor." The officer responded "A real one or just a physician?"

On a business trip some years back an older and more experienced colleague warned me not to put 'Dr' on the hotel registration because it's a pain explaining to the hotel staff that a PhD does not qualify you to help another guest having a medical emergency in the middle of the night.