Professional name vs. legal name?

  1. 0
    I have a question that I think I know the answer to, but I want to double check because I can't seem to find a straight answer online.

    Right now, I work as a diabetes writer. I have been writing for 10 years and I use my maiden name as my professional name because I have been writing before I got married.

    When I got married last summer, I changed my name legally so that my last name is my husband's name. I did this because I want my last name to be the same as my future children's last name, and I want their last name to be the same as my husband's last name.

    I am now pursuing a degree in nursing. I know that when I graduate and get my license, the license has to be under my legal name. Which at this point would be my married name. However, I plan to continue writing diabetes articles when I am a nurse and eventually a diabetes educator, and the whole reason I use my maiden name is for continuity.

    My question is: is it possible to be licensed under my married name but have my professional name be my maiden name so that my patients know that these articles are from me? Or is that a legal / HR nightmare that would never be allowed.

    Obviously I don't work in an environment where this is a problem. People publish under different names all the time, and my company knows that my legal HR name and my writing name are different. Would this be acceptable at a hospital / clinic, or should I get used to the idea of having to pick one name over the other?
  2. 11 Comments so far...

  3. 3
    I can't give you a legal answer -- as I am a nurse and not a lawyer. However, I can tell you what most of my friends do about this issue. It's a very common one as people get married, divorced, etc. throughout their careers.

    A lot of my friends keep their maiden name as part of their professional name by either:
    1. Using their maiden name as their legal middle name
    2. Hyphenating their last name

    That maintains the continuity you seek while allowing you to take your husband's last name as a legal last name.
  4. 1
    I once knew a woman who kept her professional name after marriage because she stated that her entire career was established with that name. For her, that turned out handy because she eventually divorced. Of course, her child had the father's last name. I have often seen the hypenated last names and think that would be the easier route to go. We had a nursing instructor who changed husbands frequently, and published. She hyphenated her name. You would often see her name in print with the current husband's last name appended.
    Not_A_Hat_Person likes this.
  5. 8
    Just change your name to Ochocinco.
    mh356, RN in training, brillohead, and 5 others like this.
  6. 0
    I don't know the legal ramifications of any of this, but I would consider legally hyphenating your last name. That seems to be the norm in cases like yours.
    I simply kept my maiden name. Our children have my husband's last name, and it really hasn't impacted our lives whatsoever, except I am occasionally referred to by my husband's last name by my kids' teachers or physicians, but that's of no consequence to me!
  7. 1
    I am physician who has been in practice for 20 years using my maiden name professionally. I am married, and use my husband's name socially, and when I was in medical school, I had my name changed legally to my birth/maiden name. As long as the reason for changing your name isn't to defraud anybody, it is ok to use any name you wish. Probably, I didn't even need to file in the court, but, I did. My son and his teachers and others have adapted well to the fact that I don't have the same last name as my husband and son. In this day and age, with so many blended families, I don't think any but the most conservative would give having a different name as one's spouse a second thought.
    My reason for using my maiden name is complicated, but goes something like this. All of my licenses, degrees and training have been under my maiden name. It is very complicated in medicine to change your name on your credentials. If for some reason, I get a divorced, or is widowed, and remarry, I doubt that I would want to change my name on all my credentials. If I get divorced, I wouldn't want to use my husband's name professionally. If I got remarried, my new husband would probably not want me to use my ex's name. So, I just decided to use my own. (Keep in mind that the divorce rate is something like 50%, and nobody gets married planning to get divorced).

    Since in your case, you already have a reputation established with your maiden name, you might consider keeping it professionally and have your nursing license in that name, as well.
    sharpeimom likes this.
  8. 0
    I guess my question is, can I go by my maiden name (non-certified name) in the clinic and when I'm published, or do I have to use whatever name my legal name is?

    I already changed my name. To hyphen or change it back would require going through the court to change it back to my maiden name, which is a hassle. I suppose I'm trying to figure out if I can using my maiden name professionally WITHOUT legally changing it, or if I HAVE to use my married name all the time because that's my legal name.

    I think the answer is I HAVE to use my married name, but I just wanted to check.
  9. 0
    My nursing license is hypenated, but all my other things are in my married name. For publications I think you have to use what is on your nursing license.
  10. 0
    HR at both places I work requires my legal name to be on my badge and all work-related things (email, charting). I had nothing established before I got married so I didn't have to worry about that. But it was quite a pain to change my name anyway! I did it because of the future kid thing but also because my mom never changed her name and that made me and my siblings anxious as little kids.
  11. 0
    I've already changed my name, and I don't know if I want to have the hassle of changing it back. Of course, I never imagined when I got married that I would be in a profession that required the legal name to be used. Being a writer, you can pretty much publish under whatever name you want. People do it all the time. So yeah, it's a little weird now, but I will just explain when it happened that in my previous career, I was allowed to use a professional name, and now that I'm in a credentialed career, I have to use my legal name. I doubt anyone would care, but I was just hoping I could get away with it. Oh well!


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