You've read an article online and the author makes some claims that you wonder about. Something doesn't sound quite right. But the article was written by a "Dr.", so it must be true. Right?
The use of the title "Dr." means that the person has completed an advanced degree program. While it often refers to an M.D. or a Ph.D., it can legitimately be used by many others. Generally three to four years are required beyond a bachelor's degree, and an internship or residency may be required. Here are some of the U.S. and Canadian doctorate degrees:
M.D. - Medical Doctor. This one you already knew, right? Psychiatrists are usually M.D.s (although some are D.O.s -- see below).
Ph.D. - Doctor of Philosophy. This is the traditional academic doctorate. A Ph.D. is qualified to teach at a college or university. Psychologists often have this degree. In psychology, a Ph.D. can be in Clinical Psychology (with a focus on research and practice), Counseling Psychology (with a focus on practice in less pathological populations), School Psychology (although many school psychologists do not get a doctorate), or just Psychology (many experimental and social psychologists at colleges have this). You can also get a Ph.D. in Social Work, nursing, and even things like English, Mathematics, and Philosophy.
Psy.D. - Doctor of Psychology. This is a clinical psychology degree that places more emphasis on practice than research. Psy.D. programs developed to train practitioners who would keep up with research but might never do much research.
D.O. - Doctor of Osteopathy. Osteopaths generally get the same residency training as M.D. physicians. Their medical schools include additional training in physical manipulation techniques somewhat similar to chiropractic.
D.D.S. - Doctor of Dental Surgery - A dentist.
D.S.W. - Doctor of Social Work. An advanced social work degree, often held by educators in social work.
Ed.D. - Doctor of Education. Many schools of education confer this degree. A recipient can be a psychologist, an educational administrator, or someone in another education-related field.
DCM - Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine - A chiropractor.
D.Min. - A minister. - possibly a doctoral level pastoral counselor, but not always. Th.D. or D.Div. are also used.
J.D. - Doctor of Jurisprudence - An attorney. Some mental health professionals also have law degrees.
D.C.H. - Doctorate of Clinical Hypnotherapy. Is this a real degree? It is certainly not a standard doctorate. It is offered by the American Institute of Hypnotherapy. This degree should not be equated with the above degrees.
To search for the meaning of a health care professional acronym, visit the Better Health Channel's dictionary.
Keep reading for information on other degrees: Mastering the Material