Doctor or not? Physios, pharmacists reject PMDC recommendation

Council advises health ministry to bar physiotherapists, pharmacists from using title of doctor.

Mariam Shafqat August 10, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Physiotherapists and pharmacists have rejected a recommendation of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) to stop physiotherapy and pharmacy practitioners from using ‘doctor’ with their names.

Thus PMDC has requested the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination to bar physiotherapists and pharmacists from billing themselves as doctors. The ministry has not taken a decision on the issue yet.

Physiotherapists and pharmacists associations, however, have rejected the PMDC recommendation saying the council has no authority over them.

Pakistan Pharmacist Association Senior Vice president Khalid Saeed Bukahri termed the move ‘nonsense’. He said doctor of pharmacy and physiotherapy was a certified and recognised degree all over the world.

He said the Pharmacy Council of Pakistan, a government body responsible for registration of pharmacists and promotion of pharmacy education in the country, had issued a notification according to which pharmacists could use the title doctor. “A general MBBS degree-holder medical practitioner’s job is to only diagnose the disease, while it is the pharmacist’s job and expertise to prescribe medicines.

“Similarly, physiotherapists are qualified to treat aliments and injuries related to muscular disorders through physical methods”, Bukhari said.

He said the PMDC was feeling a competition from physiotherapy and pharmacy, which were relatively new fields in the country.

Dr Asghar Khan, member of the Pakistan Physical Therapy Association and an associate professor at Riphah College of Rehabilitation Sciences said, said PMDC had no mandate to issue such a notification since the body deals with medical and dental education and practice only. He said the PMDC notification was unconstitutional.

“We have already contacted all provincial health secretaries and they will not be taking any decision without coordinating with us”, Khan said.

PMDC Registar Dr Shaista Faisal told The Express Tribune that according to the definition, a doctor means a qualified person who can perform basic surgery and general medical tasks.

She said physiotherapists could not be called doctors since they cannot perform a surgery.

Faisal said physiotherapists and pharmacists could be potential quacks since they could misguide the public by billing themselves as doctors and by performing medical tasks they are not qualified to do.

“PMDC will seal all clinics where physiotherapists and pharmacists are practicing as ‘doctors’,” Shaista said.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2015. 


Muzaffar Awan | 8 years ago | Reply A Plea by a Pakistani physician & physiotherapist with degrees in medicine & physiotherapy to PMDC: As a practicing Pakistani-American physician and physiotherapist ,I naturally belong to both these globally recognized healing professions of today.Physical Therapy profession has had its birth not from barbers but within medical profession (in late 18th century UK, early19th century US and mid 19th century Pakistan ).Physical therapy profession has indeed been evolving as an art and science in the last 100 years and presently is closest then ever to becoming an autonomous and whole profession that is integral to other & true healing professions.Its parent profession(medicine) should be proud of a gown up and autonomous child of its own and should learn to respect and recognize physical therapy as a specialty with its own tremendously evolved body of knowledge and clinical skills like so many other specialties of medicine in this post modern age. PMDC as an accountable and responsible parental organization of healing professionals should be inclusive and not exclusive of its own legitimate children and even professions like osteopathic medicine and podiatry( foot surgery) that evolved outside of conventional medicine and surgery as examples in America.PMDC’s executive committee urgently needs to really learn a lot more about the evolution and development of physical therapy profession currently world-wide including Pakistan before issuing an uninformed and strange enough directive like it did over a prefix as "doctor". At this point PMDC must apologize from Physical Therapy profession for its own misunderstanding and mistake.Since Physical Therapy is integral to true healing professions and all recognized medical specialties,PMDC must also expand its horizons and rename itself as “ Pakistan Medical,Dental and Physical Therapy Council”——PMDPTC. Physical Therapy profession has the right to have its own council but genuine medicine’s future is holistic in my opinion and all true and recognized healing professions should remain integral to each other. Best wishes, Muzaffar Awan, PT ; M.D Michigan,USA
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