Doctor of Medicine

A Doctor of Medicine (M.D. from Latin Medicinae Doctor) is a medical degree, the meaning of which varies between different jurisdictions. In the United States, Canada and other countries, the MD denotes a first professional graduate degree awarded upon initial graduation from medical school. In the United Kingdom, Ireland and other countries, the MD is a research doctorate, higher doctorate, honorary doctorate or applied clinical degree restricted to those who already hold a first professional degree in medicine; in those countries, the equivalent first professional degree is typically titled Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery.[1]


The thesis presented by Claude Bernard to obtain his doctorate of medicine (1843)

In 1703, the University of Glasgow's first medical graduate, Samuel Benion, was issued with the academic degree of Doctor of Medicine.[2]

University medical education in England culminated with the MB qualification, and in Scotland the MD, until in the mid-19th century the public bodies who regulated medical practice at the time required practitioners in Scotland as well as England to hold the dual Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees (MB BS/MBChB/MB BChir/BM BCh etc.). North American medical schools switched to the tradition of the ancient universities of Scotland and began granting the MoD title rather than the MB beginning in the late 18th century. The Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York (which at the time was referred to as King's College of Medicine) was the first American university to grant the MD degree instead of the MB.[3]

Early medical schools in North America that granted the Doctor of Medicine degrees were Columbia, Penn, Harvard, Maryland, and McGill.[4] These first few North American medical schools that were established were (for the most part) founded by physicians and surgeons who had been trained in England and Scotland.

A feminine form, "Doctress of Medicine" or Medicinae Doctrix, was also used by the New England Female Medical College in Boston in the 1860s.[5][6][7] In most countries having a Doctor of Medicine degree does not mean that the individual will be allowed to practice medicine. Typically a doctor must go through a residency for at least four years and take some form of licensing examination in their jurisdiction.

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