I've been pondering the social convention that when someone hears the title "Doctor", it is typically assumed that it means "physician". I have a PhD, and that does allow me to use the title "Doctor", or to tag "Ph.D." on the end of my name. Right after my defense, I was eager to use the title whenever possible. However, I stopped making a point of using it when I considered that if a medical emergency of some sort arose, I would be inappropriately asked to render aid. All I would be able to say is, "Sorry, I'm not a physician." So I've stopped using it, more or less. In professional settings, there's not much point in asking to be addressed as "Dr. P". My colleagues tend to have PhDs, too, so why would we address each other so formally? As in any other work place, we're all on a first-name basis. Outside of work, well, my friends and family naturally only refer to me by my first name, and everyone else who doesn't know me address me as "sir" (which is completely unobjectionable to me, but as an aside, my wife, and many other women, seem to object to being called "ma'am"). My previous employers hired me because I had a doctorate. The executives wanted to advertise the number of experts they had available and thought it would help in landing commercial and government contracts. The goal was to advertise the doctorates for the prestige value of the degree - i.e., "Meet Dr. P., who's in charge of the lab, and here's Dr. Y., who will be working with blah blah...." Whether it helped land contracts, I can't say, but it didn't hurt at all. So the Ph.D. at least has some value for impressing people. The PhD does take a number of years to complete, and reflects an original contribution to knowledge, expertise in a particular field, and a general level of competence with respect to work. As such, one of the privileges of earning it is the right to the title "Doctor". However, if I have to clarify my degree, I typically hear "Oh, you're not a real doctor". Well, yes I am, but apparently it's socially inappropriate or even impossible to insist on it. Furthermore, soon I will be entering the classroom not as a student but as a professor. I'm conflicted on what I should have the students call me. Referring to me by my first name seems too informal - the students aren't my family, friends, or colleagues. I suppose I'll go by Doctor or Professor in the classroom, neither of which I'm used to hearing when being addressed. I know this board is eclectic, and that the appropriate use of titles varies widely in the world, so I doubt they can be any consensus on this matter. Yet hearing some opinions on the matter would be of interest.