Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons

Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons

:"FRCS links here, it is also an abbreviation for the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting."

Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) is a professional qualification to practise as a surgeon in the British Isles. It is bestowed by the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (chartered 1784), Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (chartered 1505), and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow though strictly the unqualified initials refer to the London College. Several Commonwealth countries have similar-sounding qualifications: FRCSC in Canada, FRACS in "Australasia," FCS(SA) in South Africa, and some others.

The original fellowship was available in general surgery and in certain specialties - ophthalmic or ENT surgery, or obstetrics and gynaecology - which were not indicated in the initials. It came to be taken mid-way through training.

There are now a range of higher fellowships, taken at the end of higher specialist training and often in narrower fields, the first of which was FRCS (Orth) in orthopaedics. Others include FRCS(Urol) in and FRCS(OMFS) in maxillofacial surgery.

The Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons

To avoid confusion, the original fellowship was renamed to either membership MRCS or associate fellowship (AFRCS). Unfortunately this introduced a new confusion, as the Royal Colleges also held qualifying examinations in medicine, after which most of them awarded licentiate diplomas (LRCP, LRCS, etc). However the Royal College of Surgeons of England used to award its membership at this level, in conjunction with the Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of London, so thousands of doctors have "MRCS, LRCP" in place of or in addition to "MB BS", etc, without being specialised in surgery.

Mister or Doctor?

Holders of FRCS (and the new, but not old, Membership - MRCS) qualifications often choose to relinquish their title of "Doctor", reverting to "Mr", "Mrs" or "Miss". This is a relic from times past when surgeons did not attend medical school and were simply skilled tradesmen, amputating limbs or removing bladder stones, and learning their skills through apprenticeship. Note that in 1540, the United Barber Surgeons Company, a tradesmen's guild, was formed by Henry VIII, as many people practised both. In 1745, surgeons were formally separated from barbers by George II.

An alternative explanation is the section of the Hippocratic Oath which runs: "I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgement and never do harm to anyone," - surgery by its implicit nature does harm to the patient, so the surgeon was not considered worthy of the title "Doctor". Again, this is an ancient practice, that has remained to this day even though it has no real grounding.: "Doing no harm" can be applied to prescribing (by physicians) as much as to operating. Also, many Greek practitioners who followed Hippocrates performed surgery as well as prescribing medicine. The separation was enforced much later by the Catholic Church, through a Council of Tours in 1169 which halted the practice of surgery by clerical physicians by proclaiming, "Ecclesia abhorret a sanguine"." This would have relegated the art to the barber-surgeons associated with the monasteries.: Additionally, the change of title is confined to the United Kingdom, and is not practised in other countries where the Hippocratic Oath may be widely espoused.

It is also pertinent to recall that the use of Mr as a courtesy title for all men is a relatively recent invention, and implied a larger degree of status in past years than at present. Compare Esquire.

The practice of surgeons reverting to "Mr" (etc) is also common in New Zealand, Victoria in Australia and South Africa. In the British Isles, holders of an FRCS who move into non-surgical fields tend to go back to being "Dr". In Scotland, only certain surgeons change to "Mr": in Edinburgh ophthalmologists, ENT surgeons and obstetricians & gynaecologists would remain "Dr", but in other cities usage is more like England.

Fellows

Original 300 Fellows of The Royal College of Surgeons of England (FRCS).
* John Abernethy (surgeon) (1764-1831)
* John Badley (surgeon) (1783-1870)
* Daniel Wate (surgeon) (1791-1888)

ee also

*Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons
*Fellow of the American College of Surgeons
*Fellowship in Dental Surgery FDSRCS England


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