I can't exactly remember when it started, but I always had a slight resentment for medical doctors (students) throughout my tertiary education as a student of biomedicine. I don't know if it was their perceived arrogance around campus that triggered me, or the fact that biomedical students were considered by many as students who applied to study medicine but got rejected, or that they felt the need to walk around campus with their lab coats on and their stethoscopes around their necks, seemingly announcing to everyone that they were medical students.
As I grew up and graduated, that resentment didn't really go away. The perception that Ph.D holders are not "real doctors" persisted in pop culture, delivered as a joke in many forms of entertainment. I don't mind the jokes, they are funny and I do laugh, but that sentiment that Ph.D holders are not "real doctors" is something that some people actually do believe in, among other things, and it's something that annoys me.
Medical doctors obviously play a very vital role in society, there's no question about that, but I feel like people severely underestimate and under-appreciate the contributions of Ph.D holders (and researchers in general) to society. Let's take this current pandemic for instance. Everybody is (rightfully) applauding all the medical doctors (in addition to nurses and all healthcare workers) for all their hard work in fighting this pandemic. Doctors are trying their hardest to save everyone they can. But who are we looking to for a cure? Who are we looking to for a vaccine? Researchers, and many of them probably have a Ph.D. This is what people don't see when they compare M.Ds with Ph.Ds. They are two sides to the same coin. While medical doctors work with existing knowledge, Ph.D holders conduct research to uncover new knowledge. A study of the unknown. Doctors can't treat patients without knowledge that is uncovered from biomedical research, and biomedical research is pointless if nobody applies the findings. Two sides to the same coin. And let's not forget all the Ph.D holders in various other fields and what their research has contributed to society.
Ph.D holders are real doctors. It's literally in the name - Doctor of Philosophy. If people knew how much work goes into obtaining a Ph.D, or if they tried to obtain one for themselves, I'm sure they wouldn't look down on Ph.D holders.