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A medical degree is broadly defined, any academic degree which places its holder in a position to engage in the practice of medicine. The World Health Organization has granted international recognition to certain widely offered conventional medical degrees.

What is Medicine?

Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies health science, biomedical research, and medical technology to diagnose and treat injury and disease, typically through medication, surgery, or some other form of therapy. The word medicine is derived from the Latin ars medicina, meaning the art of healing.

Though medical technology and clinical expertise are pivotal to contemporary medicine, successful face-to-face relief of actual suffering continues to require the application of ordinary human feeling and compassion, known in English as bedside manner.

Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS):

Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery is the two first professional degrees awarded upon graduation from medical school in medicine and surgery by universities in various countries that follow the tradition of the United Kingdom. The naming suggests that they are two separate degrees; however, in practice, they are usually treated as one and awarded together. Usually, students who have graduated with a "Bachelor of Medicine" degree may also practice surgery, because it is equivalent to the "Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery" degree.

In the countries that award bachelors' 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".

Master of Surgery:

The Master of Surgery is an advanced qualification in surgery. It is most commonly abbreviated Ch.M. or M.S. A typical taught program lasts between 1 and 3 years depending on mode of attendance. The possession of a medical degree is a prerequisite.

Indian universities have taken the opposite route, of setting up three year courses as well as examinations for M.S. in general surgery or gynaecology (etc), on the same pattern as the modern Indian M.D. Candidates would have clinical experience before taking a competitive entrance exam to join the programme. This kind of degree certifies clinical skill as well as academic knowledge.

A few Indian medical schools have developed courses for second masterships in surgical sub specialties, leading to the M.Ch. on the same pattern as the second doctorate (D.M.) in medical specialties. Here the M Ch qualification is akin to fellowships in specialized branches of surgery, such as cardiac surgery, Neurosurgery, Urology, etc, which are awarded after a further 3 year training course, that follows the standard MS (General Surgery) 3 year specialty training. The MS General surgery is similar to the surgical residency program, followed by the M Ch, which is similar to a specialty fellowship program.

Doctor of Science:

Doctor of Science (Latin: Scientiæ Doctor), usually abbreviated Sc.D., D.Sc., S.D. or Dr.Sc. is an academic research degree awarded in a number of countries throughout the world. The degree of Doctor of Science is one of the Higher Doctorates.

The status of the degree has declined because it is not widely understood, but in former times the doctorate in science was regarded as a greater distinction than a professorial chair and hence a professor who was also a D.Sc. would be known as Doctor. The Doctor of Science may also be awarded as an honorary degree that is, given to individuals who have made extensive contributions to a particular field and not for specific academic accomplishments.

After obtaining the first postgraduate degree, that is MD/MS/DNB, one can go for further specialization in medical or surgical fields. This requires three years of additional training and study and then passing an examination, both theory and practical, and the degree awarded is DM (Doctorate in Medicine), like M.D. in Cardiology, Neurology, Nephrology, Gastroenterology, etc. For surgical subspecialties the degree awarded is MCh (Magister Chirurgiae), like MCh in Cardiac Surgery, Neurosurgery, etc. A third qualification in subspecialties is DNB (super specialties), offered by National Board of Examinations, like DNB in Cardiology, Neurology, Cardiac Surgery, Neurosurgery, etc.

The DM and MCh degrees or DNB in super-specialties are equivalent to the Fellowship training in the US and are considered "postdoctoral" degrees in India, similar to the PhD.