M.B.B.S. vs. M.D. – What’s the Difference, and Which Should I Use?

At The Doctor Job, many of our clients have completed their medical education outside of the U.S. In some countries, the degree that is equivalent to the U.S. and Canada’s Doctor of Medicine degree, is actually two degrees: the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees, awarded simultaneously and defined with the acronym M.B.B.S. In some places, this baccalaureate degree is designated by acronyms, such as BMed of B.M.B.S.; however, M.B.B.S. is the most common.

In countries where a baccalaureate degree is awarded to a physician who has completed his medical treatment, this is to distinguish him or her from a Doctor of Medicine or M.D., or a physician who has completed advanced research and submitted a thesis or dissertation in some field of medical science. In North America, on the other hand, an M.D. merely refers to one who has graduated from medical school, but does not necessarily designate someone who has completed formal research or defended a thesis.

Before practicing in the U.S., most international medical school graduates obtain a certification from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, or ECFMG, which is a requirement to complete the USMLE Step 3 exam, as well as a prerequisite in most states before one can  receive an unrestricted medical license. Typically, once an international medical graduate has gone through these steps and becomes licensed to practice in the U.S., they are, for all intents and purposes, an M.D., and most jurisdictions will allow for the use of M.D. in their title, regardless of the original degree earned.

So, should your resume say you are John Smith, M.D., or John Smith, M.B.B.S? That all comes down to a matter of taste and situation. While M.D. more immediately alerts a prospective employer that you have the requisite training for the position, most professionals in charge of medical staffing are familiar enough with foreign medical graduates and their prerequisites to practicing in the U.S. If you do choose to use M.B.B.S. in your title, be sure your resume indicates your eligibility to practice in the U.S. Some ways your resume can clue prospective interviewers to your eligibility include providing any current U.S. medical licenses you hold (include the license number) or indicating that your international medical degree is certified by ECFMG.

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4 Responses to M.B.B.S. vs. M.D. – What’s the Difference, and Which Should I Use?

  1. Pingback: M.B.B.S. vs. M.D. – What's the Difference, and … – The Doctor Job | Graduates Blog

  2. Walter Lobo says:

    There are difference in the school curriculum of MBBS and MD. In the case of MBBS, once completes Masters in Biology (MB) and Becholars in Surgery (BS) in 5 years after completing high school. Whereas, MD requires BS degree as a prerequisite to enter into MD program, which is gnerally 4 years. Thus an MD spends 8 years to qulify for MD and MBBS spends 5 years to qulaify for MBBS, after high school. Therefore those degrees are NOT equivalent in scope and depth, thus MBBS should take additional MS degree in Clinical Science to upgrade themselves with ECFMG and US MLE Steps 1, 2 and 3 to practice medicine.

  3. MD says:

    @ walter, with all due respect, as someone who spend 4 years in undergraduate and continued on to complete my medical school as an MBBS, and MBBS is equivalent to an MD in every aspect. As I have found, what I have learned in during my MBBS training not only included most of what I had learned during my undergraduate degree (sparing the useless nitty gritty material that has absolutely no practical application in applied medicine) but has also provided me with more clinical training before my graduation than most of my MD colleagues thus giving me an advantage in clinical skills right out of medical school. I assume you are probably an MD with some sort of superiority complex, but I can say from experience that MBBS graduates are just as competent as MDs.

  4. US MD says:

    I have to say I agree with Walter Lobo. There is no superiority complex. I don’t understand why an internationally trained doctor with a MBBS degree can just take the title of MD after his/her name after completing residency and taking USMLE steps 1, 2 and 3. US trained doctors also take the same USMLE exams and residency. But the difference is the MD in America is a post-graduate degree. MBBS is an undergraduate degree. It is equivalent in terms of being a medical degree. But than no difference remains at the end of residency or becoming ECFMG certified between a US trained doctor and an internationally trained doctor if both put MD degree at the end of their name. I think it is not fair because in US, medical students spend a huge amount of money or taken on loans to go through 8 years (first 4 years of Bachelors and then 4 years of medical school) to get the MD degree.

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