The use of titles, qualifications and honours

College Fellows are reminded to take care with the correct use of titles, qualifications and honours.

Medical professionals and clinical scientists should only use titles such as ‘Doctor’ and post-nominals such as 'FRCPath' when entitled to do so, either by custom and practice or by qualification. This is particularly important when supporting job applications and research grants, representing outside bodies or ratifying and witnessing documents.

The majority of those who use the FRCPath post-nominal clearly respect the significance, honour and privilege of titles. However, by misusing titles, College Fellows risk eroding the confidence of patients and the public, and bringing themselves and the College into disrepute – with the possibility of further action being taken.

How titles are currently used

In the UK most medical practitioners and many dental practitioners use Doctor as a title which recognises their vocation – despite many having degrees at bachelor and not doctorate level. Some go on to acquire degree-level doctorates such as PhD, MD or DSc. A large number of clinical scientists also attain higher degrees and use the title Doctor as of right. Fellows of surgical royal colleges in the UK are the only exception, who use Mr/Miss/Ms/Mrs for historical reasons.

In addition to those who are qualified doctors, some individuals may be presented with an honorary chair, doctorate or fellowship. These may be awarded in perpetuity or may be time-limited. Substantive academic staff (including Professors) in UK universities are often offered honorary contracts by healthcare providers in respect of their clinical involvement.

Those who use the title 'Professor' should comply with the regulations of their appointing institution regarding its use.