Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, or in Latin: Medicinae Baccalaureus, Baccalaureus Chirurgiae (abbreviated in many ways, e.g. MBBS, MBChB, MBBCh, MB BChir (Cantab), BM BCh (Oxon), BMBS), are the two first professional degrees in medicine and surgery awarded upon graduation from medical school by universities in countries that follow the tradition of the United Kingdom. The naming suggests that they are two separate undergraduate degrees; however, in practice, they are usually treated as one and conferred together, and may also be awarded at graduate-level medical schools. In countries that follow the tradition of the United States, the equivalent medical degree is awarded as Doctor of Medicine.Bachelor of Medicine was also the primary medical degree conferred by institutions in the United States and Canada, such as University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, University of Toronto, University of Maryland, and Columbia. Several early North American medical schools were (for the most part) founded by physicians and surgeons who had trained in England and Scotland. University medical education in England culminated with the Bachelor of Medicine qualification and in Scotland the Doctor of Medicine. In the mid-19th century the public bodies that regulated medical practice required practitioners in Scotland and England to hold the dual Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees. Throughout the 19th century, North American medical schools switched to the tradition of the ancient universities of Scotland and began conferring Doctor of Medicine rather than Bachelor of Medicine. The first institution to make such a switch was King’s College (now Columbia University) in New York.
In the countries that award bachelor’s degrees in medicine, however, Doctor of Medicine denotes a holder of a higher doctorate and is reserved for medical practitioners who undertake research and submit a thesis in the field of medicine. Nevertheless, those holding Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery are usually referred to by the courtesy title of “Doctor” and use the prefix “Dr.”, whether or not they also hold a Ph.D. or DSc. In theory the right to the use of the title “Doctor” is conferred on the medical graduate when he or she is registered as a medical practitioner by the relevant professional body, not by the possession of the MBBS degrees. The reason is found in a parallel tradition for those who are post-graduate specialists in Surgery; on acceptance into a College of Surgeons, they stop styling themselves “Doctor” and revert to “Mister” (Mr), “Miss”, “Muz” (Ms.) or “Missus” (Mrs). This curious situation, where an elevation in professional rank is signified by dropping the title of Doctor, came about because historically a “surgeon” was an ordinary worker, usually a barber, not trained in medicine but performing dissections and surgery under the direction of a gowned academic who was the actual “doctor”.Despite their styling as two degrees, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery are usually conferred together. At some institutions, such as Oxford and Cambridge, it was possible to be awarded the degrees in different years.