DPT does not qualify you as a “Dr.”

Wooosah….Is what I recently had to do when I received an interesting direct message from one of my “professional” colleagues here on LinkedIN.  Jane (not her real name and someone I have never met or seen in my life), is an Occupational Therapist at one of the local hospitals here in Dallas, Tx.  Jane sent the following direct message to me, “I think your title on here is a little misleading… DPT does not qualify you as a “Dr.”  Out of my 400+ connections, this was the first time I had received such a message.  My initial thought was to give Jane a “piece of my mind”.  All of the hard work and sacrifice (not to mention financially) that I have endured over the years essentially mitigated by someone who I would presume has excellent knowledge of what a Physical Therapist is.

Instead of replying quixotically, I ran this topic by a few of my PT colleagues (some DPT and some MPT) and there were a myriad opinions such as, “As an MPT, I have to be quite honest,  I get a little aggravated when a young, 24-year old DPT walks into my clinic referring to herself as doctor.”  Another colleague mentioned that he decided to further his education just to be called a doctor and there are times when he will “pull it out of the bag”, but he doesn’t typically use it.  I then added my two cents by asking the question, “What other profession do you know that graduates with a  doctoral degree, but they do not refer to themselves as doctors?”  Crickets….

Now, back to Jane, who stated that my title was misleading.  Like I said before, I have never met Jane a day in my life so this was my opportunity to really let her have it without any fear of retribution.  It turns out that I actually worked at Jane’s hospital in the past and knew some of her coworkers (small world).  I still could not comprehend the fact that Jane took the time out of her busy schedule to actually sit down and send this message.  “The nerve of Jane!” I thought to myself.  I decided to take the high road and replied to Jane’s message in a manner that would have made my mom proud. I love you mom.

When you look at my title it clearly says, “Dr. Jason J. Lewis Doctor of Physical Therapy”.  Where is the confusion?  Does it say “MD or Physician”? Does it say “DC/DO/DPM”?  The point I am making here is that as a Doctor of Physical Therapy we should be comfortable referring to ourselves as doctors because that is what our degree says we are.  There should not be any trepidation or hesitation in using this title because you earned it.   You burned the midnight oil to achieve this level of education and you should be proud to call yourself doctor.  You are qualified.  Let me be clear,  shame on any DPT who is out there perpetrating as a Physician because that is not what we are (Ok Jane?).  We are highly skilled healthcare professionals who are experts in movement dysfunction.  Physical Therapists add unequivocal value to the healthcare industry and a lot of times we make our “doctors” look good.  The same can be said for an Occupational Therapist or Speech Therapist.  We are all a team and it’s time to shift the focus away from titles and back to who is most important and that is the patient.  Jane,  I value what you bring to this industry and thank you for reaffirming my passion for Physical Therapy.

Thanks for Reading,

“Dr. Jay” (As my wonderful patients call me)

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