"In principle I am against seeking the title “Doctor” because I simply don’t need it for my self-esteem."
Original image: Paul Hudson [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr.
Stuart Reid, current president of the RCVS, wants to revisit the old chestnut of using the title “Doctor” for UK-trained vets. Good luck to him.

In the face of widespread protests, the Royal College recently reconsidered its decision to stop publishing additional postnominals a member may have where they aren’t directly relevant to his or her registration.

The college believed this would simplify the register and reduce confusion in the mind(s) of the public when consulting the register. I can see the “Doctor vs Mister” argument following the same line.

Many vets are given the title “Doctor” for no other reason than the place they qualified, so a graduate of a European veterinary school and a graduate of a British school would have different titles.

In principle I am against seeking the title “Doctor” because I simply don’t need it for my self-esteem. I have a bachelor’s degree and (brutal though it was to attain) it’s still a BVMS, not a doctorate. Just because dentists and chiropractors award themselves the title after a shorter degree doesn’t mean we should.

I said “in principle”, though – I’m coming round to the “levelling the playing field” argument.

I have been working in practices supervising and training freshly qualified colleagues who are on the plaque at the front with “Dr” in front of their name (where I have “Mr”) simply because they studied in sunnier climes. Meanwhile, I currently share the building with a British-trained colleague who got his title “Dr” the hard way (through further hard work and original research by getting a PhD), and I just cannot agree we “ordinary vets” deserve the same title.

So I would go the other way – I would argue that an MRCVS should be called Miss, Mrs, Ms or Mr until they earn a PhD, no matter their degree of qualification.

How many letters? Image © iStock.com/Deklofenak
Too much? Image ©iStock.com/Deklofenak

On the subject of self-esteem and confusion, I noticed that many nurses append “MBVNA” to their names, making them “A.Gzample RVN MBVNA”. This is a perfectly legitimate activity as far as I can see, and the British Veterinary Nursing Association encourages and supports this. That said, I cannot concur that membership of the BVNA deserves postnominals, as it is a representative rather than a regulatory body.

If other similar organisations were to follow suit then, at one point in my past, I could have listed BVMS MRCVS MBVA MBSAVA MBVDA MARAV MAAV MAVA MVIS MAEMV MEVECCS MVECCS – and more, if the organisations had supported it and I had been narcissistic enough to want them. None of them did allow this because there is little point (they are all educational/interest/representative societies that any vet is allowed to join) and there is far more to professional life than padding out one’s name with letters.

However, I DO think that RVNs deserve their own postnominals from the RCVS in addition to their qualification status to indicate and expand upon their regulation, whether that be a variant of XRCVS or their own abbreviation. Nurses have a tough qualification course, demanding exams and now are individually accountable for ethical and professional decisions, and so more than deserve this.

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1 year 9 months ago

As a VN I fully agree on the MBVNA thing being a load of nonsense. What really wound me up was when some years ago I spoke at BVNA Congress, they chose to describe me in my bio as MBVNA without my consent and which made me look a complete ponce indeed.


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