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When can you introduce yourself as "Dr.?"

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by HomeworkHelper, May 6, 2013.

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  1. HomeworkHelper

    HomeworkHelper

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    I have a question for you all. I'm not sure whether programs differ on this, but in our program you can graduate before internship is over. So, recently I graduated (got the diploma and everything, woohoo!), and I was curious about when I could introduce myself as Dr. [insert last name here]. Not like I'm in a rush or anything, but I wanted to just make sure...When you graduate? Once internship is over? Also, when can you put the initials Ph.D. after your name? Still using M.A. after my name when I sign forms doesn't seem correct now, but I could be wrong.
  2. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    Did your program actually confer your degree, or did they simply let you walk for graduation?

    I've always been of the opinion (which I practiced myself) that you should hold off on the Dr./Ph.D. bit until your degree is conferred by your university (i.e., your transcripts officially show that it's been awarded), even if some supervisors insist that it's ok to do as soon as you defend your dissertation.

    If I were in your position, and this is just my own personal take, I'd hold off on introducing myself as "Dr." until I'd completed internship; prior to that, you technically haven't completed all of your degree requirements.
  3. Pragma

    Pragma

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    I agree with AA. I had this discussion with someone else when we were on internship. They insisted on starting to use the title, even though finishing the internship was a degree requirement. I found that a bit silly. I waited until my degree conferral date, which was at the end of the academic term during which I completed my internship.
  4. bmedclinic

    bmedclinic

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    In my mind, this is pretty simple: you're not a doctor till you've earned a doctorate (in something). I'm sure others take liberties with this, but that's exactly what it is- a liberty. If you choose to do that, that's your call.
  5. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    This is how I have always understood it to be for psychology.

    *edit*

    Your state legislation will be the final word on this topic. It should be pretty clear once you find the definition of "psychologist", which may be linked from the Psych Licensing Board of your state.

    FWIW...a psych internship is meant to be a PRE-doctoral internship....I think any use of the title would be inappropriate.
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  6. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

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    How can you get a diploma when you have not yet competed degree requirements?
  7. psycscientist

    psycscientist

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    Some programs do this when the internship only extends like a month past graduation to avoid making people have to wait until the Winter for official conferral. My degree was technically conferred a month before my internship ended because my internship director wrote a letter to my program stating that there were no barriers to my completion of the internship requirement. However, I still did not use the title on internship.
  8. Pragma

    Pragma

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    I guess I assumed most universities would be conservative about this sort of thing and would just do summer degree conferral. That is how it worked where I was and there haven't been any complaints from students that I am aware of.
  9. JeyRo

    JeyRo

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    As somewhat of an aside, I've never felt particularly comfortable encouraging the "doctor" title, and so for years I just introduced myself as "So-and-so, psychologist." When I first started working at the VA, I was struck by how everyone "doctor"-ed me to death. I've finally gotten used to it a little bit.
  10. PHD12

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    This happens at Alliant/Argosy, not sure which campuses.

    I wouldn't use the Dr. title until internship is over because it may violate the rules of your internship program.
  11. HomeworkHelper

    HomeworkHelper

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    Yes, I believe my school is an example of this. My degree was conferred, and I was given a diploma. I didn't hear that our internship director had to write a letter, but I'm sure my department had to know I was in good standing with my internship somehow. Thanks for all your feedback, it sounds like there's pretty good consensus on this to wait until after internship. I'm fine with that, I just didn't know what the standard protocol was.
  12. HomeworkHelper

    HomeworkHelper

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    Haha, JeyRo, absolutely I've noticed this as well. Almost all the psychologists at my VA go by Dr. "So and so" to veterans and to interns/prac students. It was a bit strange moving from my program, where a majority go by their first name, into this setting.
  13. Pragma

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    Great point. I generally don't like using the "Dr." title myself. I do when it seems like the norm around me, but otherwise try to go on a first-name basis.

    Some of that is definitely program specific. We pretty much only used first names in graduate school with professors. In medical centers, we'd say "Dr. so and so" when mentioning someone to patients, but not amongst each other typically. There were one or two supervisors that seemed to like being called by their title all the time, but otherwise I found that to be rare. Interestingly enough, I hear it a little more often in a university setting.
  14. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    My advisor never explicitly requested/required it, but everyone invariably always used "Dr." Most other supervisors used first names, although I've always been one to default to "Dr." even when told to use a first name.

    And yes, in medical centers (VA and academic), it's typically always "Dr." with patients (while also always explaining with I/we are doctors in), and generally also when around other hospital staff. With one another, it varies. Again, I generally always go with "Dr.," but other postdocs often use first names when talking with/about supervisors.
  15. briarcliff

    briarcliff Gold Donor

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    I'd be afraid that introducing myself as Dr. XYZ before my degree was conferred would be misleading my patients, and would be a huge liability.
  16. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    That has been my experience too. With other faculty we are on a first name basis unless I have never met someone and/or they are outside our system and I'm calling in an official capacity.

    As well you should. Some states limit the title "clinical psychologist" to only licensed clinicians.
  17. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    Yep. I'm careful to never refer to myself as a psychologist, as I'm not yet licensed; I simply say I'm a postdoctoral fellow in clinical neuropsychology and then explain what that means.
  18. KillerDiller

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    But students who get their degrees in experimental psychology never get licensed, but still call themselves psychologists, don't they? I guess I figured that after my degree was conferred, I could use the term "psychologist" as long as I explained that I'm not yet licensed.
  19. Doctor Eliza

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    Experimental psychologists don't work in clinical settings. I think that is part of why they can call themselves psychologists as soon as they get their degrees. they deal with students rather than patients.

    There is significant state to state variation. For example, my state says it is improper to put "licensed psychologist" on your business cards because you can't call yourself a psychologist unless you are licensed. Therefore licensed psychologist is redundant. A PhD w/o a license is a post doctoral fellow or a resident.

    Unless you are at a cocktail party. In that case you call call yourself what you want. :)

    Dr. E
  20. briarcliff

    briarcliff Gold Donor

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    Clinicians on post doc in my state refer to themselves as post doctoral associates and advertise themselves as Dr. XYZ on their business cards
  21. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

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    Well that sound perfectly accurate. Not using "psychologist," but using the doctor title since they have had the degree conferred by that time.
  22. Doctor Eliza

    Doctor Eliza

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    My state (which is apparently a little stringent) will only allow post-docs to have business cards if they clearly indicate their supervisor's name on them. For this reason, most post-docs wait to get their license before getting business cards. It seems embarrassing to have your supervisor's name on your card when you are trying to present yourself as a competent professional.

    Dr. E
  23. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    That's pretty much the same thing that we do.

    And KillerDiller: state licensing regulations usually have a stipulation for use of the term "psychologist" in academic settings/roles by individuals with doctorates in psychology who aren't licensed. As Dr. E mentioned, though, such use is disallowed in a clinical setting, which is why I never refer to myself as a psychologist.
  24. Pragma

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    Well I don't see why someone might just not call themselves a postdoctoral fellow. What's wrong with that?

    I wouldn't see why calling yourself an I/O psychologist in a non-clinical setting would be problematic. I could see how saying you are a psychologist as an unlicensed clinician could be misleading without qualification to the general public. So I am not against those regulations.
  25. KillerDiller

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    Not that it will apply to me, but what if you don't hold a formal post-doc position and instead take a regular job? For example, clinicians at university counseling centers often refer to themselves as staff psychologists. If you get hired on as a new staff member before getting licensed, saying you're a fellow or a post-doc would be somewhat misleading given that these are usually temporary positions in those settings. So...staff counselor, I guess? Unfortunately, that's also the same title as the masters-level clinicians.

    FWIW, the treatment center where I'm doing my internship has a few as yet unlicensed clinicians who refer to themselves as psychologists to patients. Maybe this state allows for that, though.
  26. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    I'd definitely check what the state allows. Some may restrict the use purely to licensed folks, while others may allow individuals who are postdoctoral and who are working toward licensure (e.g., accruing hours) to refer to themselves as psychologists while also having to identify the individual under whose license they're practicing. Although something like the aforementioned "postdoctoral associate" (since "fellow" might not necessarily apply) seems like it'd also work.

    Another wonderfully interesting area in which we've somehow put ourselves as a field (i.e., how to address ourselves when we're post-doctoral but pre-licensed).
  27. Doctor Eliza

    Doctor Eliza

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    My practice is highly image conscious (e.g., only uses PhD and PsyD therapists so they can talk about their "doctors"). I worked there prior to licensure but there was no formal post doc. We called ourselves "Psychological Residents".

    Dr. E
  28. KillerDiller

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    The whole situation of being between graduation and licensure just seems so cumbersome. I thought I had it down. "Hi, I'm Dr. KillerDiller, your psychologist, but I'm still working on licensure, so am being supervised by X." Now I find out it may be even more complicated.

    It's odd, because on internship, I've sometimes been called a "psycyhological resident" already when associating with people who are more familiar with med school training. However, I introduce myself as a doctoral intern.
  29. Pragma

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    "Hi, I am KillerDiller - I have my PhD in clinical psychology, and am currently completing state requirements to be independently licensed as a clinical psychologist. In the meantime, I am supervised by Dr. Eliza..."

    Approximating something useful?
  30. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    1. On internship...."I'm a psychology intern from the dept of XYZ, working under the supervision of Dr. ABC."
    2. On fellowship..."I'm a Fellow in the dept of XYZ, working under the supervision of Dr. ABC."

    Pretty straight forward for those two instances, but I guess it can get more confusing if you have completed your post-doc/fellowship but are not yet licensed. I couldn't get credentialed until I was licensed, so it was a non-issue in my case, but I know in other settings people work under someone else's license until their license is official.
  31. PHD12

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    I just wanted to say that I'm so happy I am no longer addressed as psychology intern. The title is misleading because it is frequently associated with unpaid college students interns or high school students doing internships at hospitals.

    From my experience at the VA, all the fellows are introduced as Dr. X to patients, although they specify that they are unlicensed and supervised by Dr. ABC. They introduce themselves as the Dr. on voicemail as well.
  32. Doctor Eliza

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    I basically did this, but eventually started dumbing it down a little because even educated people don't understand our training at all. When i just said what you said, they would always assume i was a student at the local major university. So after I essentially said what you said, I would say something like, "what this means is that I am done with school and have earned my PhD, but I am working on the final step to get my independent license. I should be done with this by X."

    Dr. E

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