Doctor of Medicine (MD or DM), or in Latin: Medicinae Doctor, meaning “teacher of medicine”, is a terminal degree for physicians and surgeons. In countries that follow the tradition of ancient Scotland, it is a first professional graduate degree awarded upon graduation from medical school. It is most commonly used in the United States In countries that follow the tradition of the United Kingdom, the title of the equivalent medical degree is instead styled as Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery. In those countries, the MD may either be a research doctorate, akin to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD); an advanced clinical coursework degree, akin to the Master of Surgery; or an honorary or higher doctorate reserved for medical graduates.
The MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery) degree represents the first (graduate) level of training required to be licensed as a physicians, and the MS or MD degree is a postgraduate degree, representative of specialty training. The equivalent training in the US or Canada would be completion of a medical (post-graduate) degree. Eligibility for the MS or MD course is restricted to medical graduates holding the MBBS degree.
The MBBS course is for five and a half years, and training imparted is as follows:
- Pre-clinical (Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry)
- Para-clinical (Pathology, Microbiology, Pharmacology, Forensic Medicine and Community Medicine)
- Clinical (Ophthalmology, Otorhinolaryngology, General Medicine, General Surgery, Pediatrics and Obstetrics/Gynecology; with speciality rotations such as Orthopaedics, Radiology, etc.).
After three years of study and the successful completion of an examination, which includes both theoretical and practical elements, in a pre-clinical or clinical subject of a non-surgical nature (eg. Physiology, Pharmacology, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics) the candidate receives MD degree, whereas in a pre-clinical or clinical subject of a surgical nature (eg. Anatomy, General Surgery, Orthopaedics, Obstetrics/Gynaecology), the candidate receives the equivalent degree Master of Surgery (MS).
A second alternate qualification, termed DNB [Diplomate of National Board], is considered equivalent to the MD and MS degrees. This can be obtained by passing the exam conducted by the National Board of Examinations after completing 3 years of post-MBBS residency training in teaching hospitals recognised by the board. The College of Physicians & Surgeons of Bombay, India (Established 1912) also awards higher postgraduate degrees in clinical and pre-clinical specialties, called FCPS; it involves three years of study and the successful completion of an examination, which includes both theoretical and practical elements, and a research thesis and a viva. The FCPS is representative of specialty clinical training, and equivalent to MD/MS/DNB in India, or PhD or Professional Doctorates in other parts of the world. Till 2007, the Government of India and the Medical Council of India recognised the FCPS qualification – since then, this is being done by State Medical Councils.
After obtaining the first postgraduate degree, that is MD/MS/FCPS/DNB, one can go for further specialisation in medical or surgical fields. This involves a highly competitive entrance examination. Course has three years of additional training and study and then after passing an examination, both theory and practical, the degree awarded is DM (Doctor of Medicine), like DM in Cardiology, Neurology, Nephrology, Gastroenterology, Neuroradiology, Critical Care, Pulmonology, Hematology, Medical Oncology, Cardio-anaesthesia,Clinical Pharmacology and Neuroanaesthesia. For surgical superspecialities the degree awarded is MCh (Magister Chirurgiae), like MCh in Cardio-thoracic and Vascular Surgery, Endocrine Surgery, Neurosurgery, Surgical Gastroenterology, Urology, Plastic Surgery, Pediatric Surgery etc. DM and MCh are Doctorate degrees. A third alternate qualification is DNB (superspecialties), offered by National Board of Examinations, like DNB in Cardiology, Neurology, Cardiac Surgery, Neurosurgery.
Following DM or MCh, one can further go for a third postdoctorate degree that is, postdoctoral fellowship programs of one-year duration in specific subspecialities like Cardiac Electrophysiology, Invasive cardiology, Pediatric cardiology, Epilepsy, stroke, electroencephalography, movement disorders, neuromuscular disorders, cerebrovascular surgery, skull base surgery, pediatric cardiac surgery etc. offered by prestigious government institutes.