Doctor vs. Physician: Technicalities on Terminology

Most people don’t know that the word doctor comes from the Latin root word ‘docere’, which means to teach, or a teacher. We like to distinguish holistic medicine doctors (or practitioners) from licensed medical professionals or physicians.

As you probably already know, many professionals use the term ‘doctor’ or ‘Ph.D.’ after their name and in their title to signify their expertise in their chosen career fields.

The term ‘doctor’ is used by many holistic health practitioners as well. Some use Dr. and some use Ph.D. That is because many people practicing in these fields believe in the original Latin meaning of ‘docere’ (doctor) as ‘teacher’.

And make NO mistake about it, that is the primary role of our profession —educating others on natural health and holistic medicine. That’s what we do!

Our programs are not easy! They will both challenge and enlighten you! Believe us when we tell you that there are considerably less qualified people who use the term “doctor” in their professional title everyday, especially as it relates to holistic medicine/natural health— so if you feel inclined, don’t be afraid to use it.

You really will feel like you earned it after OUR program.

Some people in the holistic arena read 23 basic books and call themselves a doctor.

We respect everyone’s path but the only holistic medicine doctor we’d be comfortable seeing is a Rockwell one.

Their education is unparalleled for this class and type and their continuing education is guaranteed.

Graduates of ours and similar schools may choose to call themselves a holistic health practitioner/professional, or a holistic medicine doctor, or even more simply, an herbalist, etc.

In any case, many individuals do feel they have earned the right to call themselves a doctor of holistic medicine and this is never to be confused with a licensed physician.

In operating Rockwell, we have come to realize that use of the term ‘doctor’ in one’s professional title is a personal choice. Some people are very comfortable with it, while others are not apt to use it at all.

We leave this at the discretion of each individual graduate and respect their choice as such.

If you would like to read more, from the perspective of our TND Program Director for our traditional naturopathy program, you can download his paper “Why I Should Be Addressed As Doctor” in PDF


Please see our FAQ for more information! What about your opinion? Do you think the word ‘doctor’ should only be used by those with conventional educations and licensed physicians, or does it depend on the education itself? Let us know how you feel about this controversial subject!

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