As of today (March 6) vets in the UK can use the courtesy title of ‘Dr’ if they wish, following a vote at the RCVS’ March council meeting.

The Royal College consulted the profession and the public last year, releasing an online consolation in December 2014, and officially approved use of the title on March 5.

Supporting guidance from the college says vets intending to adopt the title should use it in conjunction with:

  • their name
  • the descriptor “veterinary surgeon”, or
  • the postnominal letters “MRCVS”

For example: “Dr John Smith, veterinary surgeon” or “Dr Jane Smith MRCVS”.

RCVS president Stuart Reid said:“I am very pleased that the response from the consultation gave Council such clear direction and has allowed us to bring UK vets in line with the majority of veterinarians worldwide. It was my privilege to pose the question, which has been well and truly answered by the profession and the public.

“Whether one regards the decision as correcting a historical anomaly or simply providing greater clarity at home and abroad, there is no doubt that the issue has generated huge interest. Yet regardless of whether individual vets choose to use the title, it will not change the profession’s ongoing commitment to the very highest of standards.”

RCVS CEO Nick Stace added: “I am delighted that such a strong message came from both the public and the profession on this issue.

“We have a responsibility to maintain confidence in the veterinary profess ion and this move will help underline to the public in particular that veterinary surgeons work to very high standards, regardless of where they qualified.”

More than 11,000 vets, VNs, vet students and members of the public responded to the consultation, with 10,813 answering the question if they were in favour of the courtesy title of Dr.

Findings revealed 81% were in favour, 13% expressed they were not, while 6% did not mind.

Many international vets already use this title, but, in the UK, are the only profession of the three main clinical degrees – medical, dentistry and veterinary medicine – who do not use it.

Royal Veterinary College deputy principal, Stephen May said: “With the clarity that the RCVS has now provided for the profession, UK vets will now be able to use the title Dr at home and abroad, should they wish, bringing them into line with other qualified veterinarians around the world.

“It recognises the level and quality of their training beside the other clinical disciplines such as medicine and dentistry and the reassurance that using ‘Dr’ is now endorsed by their professional regulator.”

The move will bring UK vets in line with international colleagues.

  • For further details, see Veterinary Times issue 45.12.
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