Is an MD a Doctor? Exploring the Differences and Similarities

Posted on – When it comes to medical professionals, many of us use the terms “doctor” and “MD” interchangeably. But are they really the same thing? In this article, we’ll explore the differences and similarities between the two titles to help you understand who is who in the medical world.

Exploring the Question: Is an MD a Doctor?

 Exploring the Question: Is an MD a Doctor?


The medical field is known for its complex terminologies and acronyms, which can be confusing to the uninitiated. One such term is “MD,” which stands for Doctor of Medicine. However, this leads to the question, “Is an MD a doctor?” This tutorial will explore this question and provide clarity on the subject.

Defining the Term “Doctor”

Before we can answer whether an MD is a doctor, we need to define what a doctor is. According to Merriam-Webster, a doctor is “a person who has earned the highest academic degree (such as a PhD) conferred by a university.”

Understanding the MD Degree

An MD degree is a professional doctoral degree that is awarded to individuals who have completed medical school. Medical school typically takes four years to complete and covers a wide range of topics, including anatomy, pharmacology, and clinical skills.


In conclusion, an MD is indeed a doctor. While there are other doctoral degrees, such as PhDs, an MD is a professional doctoral degree that grants individuals the title of “Doctor.” Therefore, if you encounter someone with an MD, you can address them as “Doctor.”

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Understanding the Meanings of MD and Doctor

Before we delve into the question of whether an MD is a doctor, it is essential to understand the meanings of both terms. MD stands for Doctor of Medicine. It is a degree that a person must obtain in order to practice medicine in the United States. On the other hand, the term “doctor” is a title that is used to address anyone with a medical degree, including an MD.

Knowing the Different Types of Doctors

It is important to note that there are different types of doctors in the medical field. While an MD is a doctor who specializes in allopathic medicine, there are also doctors who specialize in osteopathic medicine, dentistry, podiatry, and more. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the type of doctor you are addressing or seeking treatment from.

Consulting with an MD When Seeking Medical Treatment

If you are seeking medical treatment, it is recommended to consult with an MD. They are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions and have completed rigorous education and training programs to obtain their degrees. However, it is also important to note that there are other healthcare providers, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, who can also provide medical care under the supervision of an MD.

Recognizing the Differences Between MDs and PhDs

While both MDs and PhDs hold doctorate degrees, they are not the same types of doctors. MDs are trained in the practice of medicine, while PhDs are trained in research and academic pursuits. Therefore, if you are seeking medical treatment, it is important to seek out an MD rather than a PhD.

Understanding the Importance of Board Certification

Board certification is a voluntary process that doctors can go through to demonstrate their expertise in a particular specialty. While it is not required to practice medicine, it can be a valuable credential for doctors to have. Therefore, it is recommended to seek out an MD who is board certified in the specialty that aligns with your medical needs.


In conclusion, an MD is indeed a doctor, but it is important to understand the nuances of the medical field and the differences between types of doctors. By consulting with an MD, recognizing the importance of board certification, and understanding the different types of doctors, you can make informed decisions about your medical care and treatment.

Is an MD Considered a Doctor?


When people hear the term “doctor,” they often associate it with someone who has completed medical school and earned a degree in medicine. However, not all medical professionals with the title “doctor” have earned the same degree. One common question that arises is whether an MD is considered a doctor.

Definition of MD

MD stands for “Doctor of Medicine” and is a graduate degree that medical students earn after completing four years of medical school. Medical students must have a bachelor’s degree and have completed specific prerequisite courses before attending medical school. After graduation, they must complete a residency program, which usually takes three to seven years, depending on their specialty. Once they complete their residency, they can obtain a license to practice medicine.

Is an MD a Doctor?

Yes, an MD is considered a doctor. The degree “Doctor of Medicine” is a doctoral degree, which means that individuals who hold this degree have earned the highest level of academic achievement in their field of study.

Other Types of Doctors

While an MD is one type of doctor, there are other types of doctors as well. Some examples include:

Type of Doctor Degree
Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) Dental degree
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) Veterinary degree
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Nursing degree
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) Psychology degree

These individuals have earned doctoral degrees in their respective fields and are also considered doctors.


In summary, an MD is considered a doctor. While there are other types of doctors with different degrees, individuals who hold an MD have completed medical school, a residency program, and have obtained a license to practice medicine.

Is an MD a Doctor? Frequently Asked Questions

What does MD stand for?

MD stands for Doctor of Medicine. It is a medical degree that is awarded to those who have completed a medical school program and passed the licensing examination.

Is an MD a real doctor?

Yes, an MD is a real doctor. These individuals have undergone rigorous training in medical school and have received the proper credentials required to practice medicine. They are licensed to diagnose and treat patients, prescribe medication, and perform medical procedures.

What is the difference between an MD and a DO?

While both MDs and DOs are licensed physicians who can practice medicine, there are some differences between the two. MDs are trained in allopathic medicine, which is the traditional form of Western medicine. DOs are trained in osteopathic medicine, which takes a more holistic approach to healthcare, focusing on the body as a whole.

Can an MD perform surgery?

Yes, MDs can perform surgery. Many MDs specialize in surgical fields such as cardiology, neurosurgery, and orthopedics. However, not all MDs are qualified to perform surgery. It depends on their level of training and specialization.

Are MDs the only type of doctors?

No, there are other types of doctors as well. Some examples include doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs), doctors of dental medicine (DMDs), doctors of dental surgery (DDSs), doctors
of optometry (ODs), and doctors of veterinary medicine (DVMs). Each type of doctor specializes in a different area of healthcare.

Do I need to see an MD for medical treatment?

No, you do not necessarily need to see an MD for medical treatment. As mentioned earlier, there are other types of doctors who can provide medical treatment depending on your needs. For example, if you need dental treatment, you would see a DMD or DDS. If you need eye care, you would see an OD. It is important to find the right doctor who specializes in the care you need.