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So I had my first interview this week. I was e-mailing my interviewers today, using the information I had from my interview day schedule, from what I learned in the interview, and from the faculty profiles on the school website. I addressed one of my interviewers as Ms. So-and-so, since she wasn't listed as Dr. on my interview schedule (the other interviewer was) and there was no mention of a PhD on her faculty profile, but instead a Masters. She replied to my e-mail, and in her signature, I noticed that it was So-and-so, PhD.

I feel terrible! I never meant to disrespect anybody. Does anyone have any advice for what I should do? Is an apology e-mail appropriate? Being honest, that seems neurotic, but I feel like I've really disrespected somebody I connected with at a school I really liked. Any advice?
 

ZedsDed

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Is an apology e-mail appropriate? Being honest, that seems neurotic,
It is neurotic.

Just address her by her title in future correspondence. She'll get the message.

In any case, she likely has already forgotten.
 
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eteshoe

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Lesson certainly learned. In your experience, do you think this would affect my application?
No. Just keep honorific titles in mind. Making that small of a mistake won't be what gets you in or keeps you out of med school.
 

Goro

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Quit fussing; if you had called her by her first name, THAT would have been lethal!

Longtime lurker, first-time poster.

So I had my first interview this week. I was e-mailing my interviewers today, using the information I had from my interview day schedule, from what I learned in the interview, and from the faculty profiles on the school website. I addressed one of my interviewers as Ms. So-and-so, since she wasn't listed as Dr. on my interview schedule (the other interviewer was) and there was no mention of a PhD on her faculty profile, but instead a Masters. She replied to my e-mail, and in her signature, I noticed that it was So-and-so, PhD.

I feel terrible! I never meant to disrespect anybody. Does anyone have any advice for what I should do? Is an apology e-mail appropriate? Being honest, that seems neurotic, but I feel like I've really disrespected somebody I connected with at a school I really liked. Any advice?
 

LizzyM

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Quit fussing; if you had called her by her first name, THAT would have been lethal!
And yes, before anyone asks, it has been done. I think it should be lethal but some people are more merciful than Goro and I would be under those circumstances. Professor is always a good choice in these circumstances. Some older women just love "ma'am" particularly if you grew up south of the Mason-Dixon line and say it the way your mama taught you.
 

To be MD

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And yes, before anyone asks, it has been done. I think it should be lethal but some people are more merciful than Goro and I would be under those circumstances. Professor is always a good choice in these circumstances. Some older women just love "ma'am" particularly if you grew up south of the Mason-Dixon line and say it the way your mama taught you.
Yes ma'am!

Off the record, premeds, feel free to include some good southern slang in your interview like:

- "I can't swing a dead cat without hittin' a resident around here."
- "My oh my! Heavens to Betsy, Dr. Nichols! What a tie! You didn't have to get all gussied up for our little get together."
- "Well butter my butt and call me biscuit."
 

Goro

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I have seen this happen at least twice, that I can recall. Both candidates were rejected outright.

"So why Medicine"

"Well Karen, it's pretty simple..."

Oh god, the cringe factor.
 

aldol16

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There are some petty people out there. Academics do get caught up in the titles - but once you know them, first-name basis is not uncommon. This is more for graduate students referring to their PIs and other PIs in the department rather than interviewer-interviewee though. We are encouraged to treat our mentors as colleagues and they become almost like friends to us. But some old-fashioned academics will still insist on the titles.

That being said, it's always better to err on the side of caution. Few people would get mad if you called them "Dr. X" when they don't actually have a doctorate. (If you keep doing it after they correct you, that's another story). More people would be offended if you called them "Mr. X" when they have a doctorate (grad students don't go through 5-6 years of hell for nothing!).
 

Gryffindor20

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And yes, before anyone asks, it has been done. I think it should be lethal but some people are more merciful than Goro and I would be under those circumstances. Professor is always a good choice in these circumstances. Some older women just love "ma'am" particularly if you grew up south of the Mason-Dixon line and say it the way your mama taught you.
That's how my mama taught me. Now that I work in Boston, I've had to tone the "yes, sirs" and "no ma'ams" down a bit because it was driving my boss nuts. (He's one of them thar Yankees!)
 

Wowsers0

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I have seen this happen at least twice, that I can recall. Both candidates were rejected outright.

Kevin Ahern at the University of Oregon actually advises students to address faculty by their first name if that person introduces themselves this way. For example, when I shadowed a physician at my hospital, I knew his last name, but because he introduced himself as "Mark" I referred to him as such throughout the shadowing experience. Would this be advisable during medical school interviews?
 
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ZedsDed

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Kevin Ahern at the University of Oregon actually advises students to address faculty by their first name if that person introduces themselves this way. For example, when I shadowed a physician at my hospital, I knew his last name, but because he introduced himself as "Mark" I referred to him as such throughout the shadowing experience. Would this be advisable during medical school interviews?
Curious what @gyngyn and @LizzyM think. My default is to use honorifics, but I'm reminded of an academic physician I do research with who hates being addressed as "Dr. _____" by her students or colleagues -- she finds it impersonal.
 

samac

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Curious what @gyngyn and @LizzyM think. My default is to use honorifics, but I'm reminded of an academic physician I do research with who hates being addressed as "Dr. _____" by her students or colleagues -- she finds it impersonal.
If someone tells you not to call them Dr. So and so then don't. Until then refer to them as Dr. So and so.
I would rather call someone without a PhD Dr. than call someone with a PhD Mr.
 

JustAPhD

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Kevin Ahern at the University of Oregon actually advises students to address faculty by their first name if that person introduces themselves this way. For example, when I shadowed a physician at my hospital, I knew his last name, but because he introduced himself as "Mark" I referred to him as such throughout the shadowing experience. Would this be advisable during medical school interviews?
Ehh. I wouldn't do it on an interview. Unless:

(Interview with a Dr. Greg House)

Prof: Hi, I'm Greg
Interviewee: Hi Dr. House, nice to meet you I'm Neurotic Premed!
Prof: Please, call me Greg.

I think then you're in the clear, but before they explicitly tell you it's okay to address them by first name I wouldn't chance it.
 

LizzyM

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Kevin Ahern at the University of Oregon actually advises students to address faculty by their first name if that person introduces themselves this way. For example, when I shadowed a physician at my hospital, I knew his last name, but because he introduced himself as "Mark" I referred to him as such throughout the shadowing experience. Would this be advisable during medical school interviews?

The problem I've seen is when someone introduces herself as Mary White, which is the correct form when introducing oneself, and the applicant takes this as an invitation to call her Mary rather than Professor White, Dean White or Dr. White particularly when it is very clear from the agenda for the day what the person's title and degree(s) are.

As mentioned above, if the person says, "Please, call me Mary!" then obviously you should but until that time, it never hurts to be more formal than not.
 

Goro

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I guess it might be OK, but there's nothing wrong with being respectful all the same. I've never seen a Faculty member introduce themselves by their first name to interview candidates.


Kevin Ahern at the University of Oregon actually advises students to address faculty by their first name if that person introduces themselves this way. For example, when I shadowed a physician at my hospital, I knew his last name, but because he introduced himself as "Mark" I referred to him as such throughout the shadowing experience. Would this be advisable during medical school interviews?
 
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Doctor-S

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Agree with many of the above posters.

It's advisable to exercise common courtesy by addressing an individual as "Dr" or "Professor" if you're appearing for a medical school interview. It's reasonable to assume that the interviewer already has an MD, DO and/or a PhD. Or, the interviewer will unilaterally resolve the problem upfront, by identifying herself/himself as "Professor" or "Dr" upon meeting you for the first time.

If the interviewer wants to be addressed as something else, they'll probably advise you at the beginning of the interview. I have not encountered any interviewers who invite applicants to address them by their first name. Therefore, it is advisable for you to exercise basic respect and common courtesy. Just saying.

Thank you.
 
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aldol16

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Inability to read social cues or lack of awareness of them is a serious liability in medicine.
All those "situational judgement tests" are designed to identify just such things...
I think if it is not clear even after an extensive Google search whether the person has an MD and/or PhD that it is not unreasonable for an applicant to err on the side of caution - the point being that there are no obvious social cues (interviewer doesn't have a name+title on office door, introduces him/herself by first name, etc.). Now, if the interviewer makes a point to introduce him/herself as "Dr. X" and the applicant keeps referring to him/her as "Mr./Mrs. X," then that's an inability to read social cues or lack of awareness about them.

As an academic, I would not feel particularly offended or hold it against somebody if they didn't refer to me as "Dr." (after I complete my PhD, of course) but I guess I wouldn't ever be in charge of medical admissions.
 

gyngyn

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I think if it is not clear even after an extensive Google search whether the person has an MD and/or PhD that it is not unreasonable for an applicant to err on the side of caution - the point being that there are no obvious social cues (interviewer doesn't have a name+title on office door, introduces him/herself by first name, etc.). Now, if the interviewer makes a point to introduce him/herself as "Dr. X" and the applicant keeps referring to him/her as "Mr./Mrs. X," then that's an inability to read social cues or lack of awareness about them.

As an academic, I would not feel particularly offended or hold it against somebody if they didn't refer to me as "Dr." (after I complete my PhD, of course) but I guess I wouldn't ever be in charge of medical admissions.
By failure to observe cultural norms, I am referring to an immediate use of the familiar (first name ) in a situation that clearly calls for a formal title. It matters not whether the interviewer is a physician or scientist, they should be referred to as doctor or professor unless specifically told otherwise. It has nothing to do with personal offense.
 

Goro

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This has nothing to do with pettiness. This an interview for medical school, not McDonalds. We all take professionalism very seriously. So do my students.

I once had a student who was a mom with a six year daughter. Her kid and mine were in the same pre-school, and it turned out she was renting a house right around the corner from me. When I'd meet her at the pre-school I'd say hello and she'd say Hi Dr Goro. I told her that over here we're friends and neighbors, so she could call me by my first name.

She couldn't do it! I guess it's like calling your parents by thier first names.


There are some petty people out there. Academics do get caught up in the titles - but once you know them, first-name basis is not uncommon. This is more for graduate students referring to their PIs and other PIs in the department rather than interviewer-interviewee though. We are encouraged to treat our mentors as colleagues and they become almost like friends to us. But some old-fashioned academics will still insist on the titles.

That being said, it's always better to err on the side of caution. Few people would get mad if you called them "Dr. X" when they don't actually have a doctorate. (If you keep doing it after they correct you, that's another story). More people would be offended if you called them "Mr. X" when they have a doctorate (grad students don't go through 5-6 years of hell for nothing!).
 

aldol16

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By failure to observe cultural norms, I am referring to an immediate use of the familiar (first name ) in a situation that clearly calls for a formal title. It matters not whether the interviewer is a physician or scientist, they should be referred to as doctor or professor unless specifically told otherwise. It has nothing to do with personal offense.
Then you misunderstand my point. I am not saying that any applicant should call their interviewer by his or her first name. As I said, one should err on the side of caution and "Dr. X" is better than "Mr. X" or "Steve." I say specifically that calling PIs by their first names is a graduate student-mentor(s) thing rather than what an interviewee should be doing - this was more to dispel the myth of academics sitting in their lofty ivy towers "above everyone else" (a personal agenda, I'll admit). As graduate students, we are encouraged to call PIs by their first names (as "colleagues" - or so we are told). So if an academic says, "Call me Steve," there's nothing wrong with calling him "Steve"!
 
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