n South African Medical Journal - Internship and community service require revision

Volume 102, Issue 8
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Apprenticeship has long been established in the medical profession. This was graphically brought home to me when reviewing Mike du Preez's expanded document on the early years of Dr James Barry (personal communication). Dr Barry (1789 - 1865) was an army doctor who was posted to the Cape of Good Hope, among other appointments elsewhere in the world. The drama of 56 years of hidden identity was revealed when Dr Barry died and was found to be a woman. After graduating from the Edinburgh medical school with an MD, Barry enlisted as Surgeon's Pupil at the United Hospitals of Guy's and St Thomas's. At that time it was possible for non-graduates to apprentice themselves to a surgeon for a period of 7 years in order to qualify to practise, but physicians required a medical qualification. This was why such surgeons were called 'Mr' and not 'Dr'. Today surgeons often still use the title Mr as a mild form of inverted snobbery.

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