Should I refer to my new RN director as Ms. Newboss?

  1. The highest ranking RN in my hospital is MSN educated with a title of Chief Nursing Officer. She prefers to be called by her first name. In my thirty year nursing career and during my four years in nursing school I have referred to one RN as Mrs. She was the dean of my nursing program. I would do so today if I saw her. I work at my hospital in a PRN pool, primarily in the ICUs and occasionally in a psychiatric unit. The psych unit has just had an RN appointed as director. Her age and education level are unknown to me. She is from outside the organization with extensive psych experience. I'm told by coworkers who have met her the first thing she makes clear is that she is to be addressed as Ms. 'Newboss'. She went on to address them by their first names. While I enjoy working in the psych unit, I would feel condescended to and would be uncomfortable working for her. It might just be easier to refrain from working there. I would make it known to my boss and the CNO why I made the decision if that is what I decide. Any one with similar experiences or advise? I will take the opportunity to meet her and let her make clear her position. I would also give her the opportunity to refer to me as Mr. or RN before making my decision. That, while not preferable, would be acceptable.
    Last edit by klondike on Sep 13, '10
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   JBudd
    You would refuse an assignment because someone wanted to be called by their title? And you haven't actually met the person or know much about her but already feel condescended to? Somehow I doubt the CNO would find that an acceptable excuse.

    She is establishing her authority, not the way I would do it but so what? Did the staff say then call us by our titles? Or are they happy with their own first name culture and willing to accept her however she wants to be known. Maybe she just doesn't like her first name and is more comfortable with the Ms. Newboss. Some people are simply more formal than others.

    My advice? Pick more worthy battles to fight and worry about.
  4. by   HollyGoLightlyRN
    I'm not sure what age or education have to do with whether or not someone should be able to request begin addressed in a specific manner. If she is your boss, then I'd address her how she has requested.
  5. by   klondike
    Thanx for the suggestions. I've amended my post. I long ago decided that battles worth fighting must be chosen carefully lest you win the battle and end up loosing the war. While I don't subscribe to the John Wayne philosophy of what it is to be a man I've never taken well to ultimatums or condescension. The staff members I've talked with aren't happy with the situation and one did imply that she would not refer to them except by their first names. At the time I decided to wait and make my decision after meeting her for myself. We'll see. I didn't want to seem to be stirring the pot. Thanx again.
  6. by   klone
    In an adult workplace situation, I have a really hard time calling a person Ms/Mr or Dr so-and-so unless they also refer to ME as Ms/RN Smith. If she is calling everyone else by their first names, then I see no reason why she should expect other people to call her Ms. NewBoss. That's not expecting a show of respect, that's "putting people in their place" and making them feel like peons or underlings. Does she think you're elementary school students?
  7. by   CoffeeRTC
    Oh...I get it. She wants to be Ms so and so but others are Mike or Sally and not Mr Smith and Mrs Jones. I call people by what ever they request or what ever is proper. I think that it works both ways.
    You can correct her when she calls you by Mike instead of Mr Smith, but it might not go over with her that well.
  8. by   llg
    I wouldn't make a big deal out of it. I have people in my work environment who prefer to be called by their first names -- and other people who prefer to be called by their last names. Some people prefer to be called by a nick-name. We have all kinds. Life is too short, too complicated, and too stressful to let something like that get in my way. I try to be as polite as I can and call people as they prefer to be called -- if I can remember what that is.
  9. by   pagandeva2000
    As mentioned, there are more battles to contend with than what a person demands they are to be called. What would concern me more is how the staff interact with this person. Is she approachable? Does she address issues effectively? Does she advocate for patients and staff appropriately?

    It could be that she wants to establish the "Mrs. Newboss" in order to remind people of the formality. Too much familiarity can undermine authority at times. If you walk in with the demeanor of call me Ms. Newboss, it sets a precedence. As mentioned, calling people by their title, or preferred title doesn't seem like a bad thing, as long as they respect who you are. I have had many supervisors that insist on calling people by their last names. They were rough drill sergents, but, they were available to us, were fair and we trusted them. I'd rather that, then to be treated like an animal and called an animal.
  10. by   happy2learn
    To answer your question, yes you should. If that is what she wants to be called, why would you want to call her something else? Be respectful and call her what she wants to be called. It's pretty simple.

    Don't you feel you are being quite quick to judge her? You haven't even met her or worked with her yet and you don't want to just because she doesn't want to be addressed by her first name?

    Give her a chance and hopefully she doesn't live up to what you think of her. Hopefully she turns out to be a great boss.
  11. by   caliotter3
    Quote from Skindigo
    I'm not sure what age or education have to do with whether or not someone should be able to request begin addressed in a specific manner. If she is your boss, then I'd address her how she has requested.
    This is how I see it. There are more important things to be concerned about.
  12. by   leslie :-D
    besides, there's a good chance she'll have you guys on a first-name basis, after the newness has worn off and relationships have been developed.

    i'm truly not understanding your irritation.
    either way though, it's her call.

    leslie
  13. by   shiccy
    I totally can see your point. We're suppose to be united as one and an extension of one another. If I needed help and the only person around was my manager, HECK yes I'd ask if they were willing to assist.

    When I was growing up I was taught that I call older folks by their last names, including, but not limited to friends' parents. I still do that to this day, unless they have a huge problem with that. It *is* a sign of respect, however now *we* are the older folks. I've not been called "Mr." unless someone was being funny, but I can see it happening soon and I'm OK with that.

    It wouldn't surprise me if people called all their managers by "Mr/Mrs" when they first start out b/c many times managers are a fair bit older than the younger floor nurses/supervisors. This being said, however, if you're close in age OR you are even OLDER, I'd have definite issue. It's showing respect for your elders, IMHO, not 'showing respect for management' as is sounds as she's doing.

    In short, I don't know if you put your age down on your profile... I introduced as, "Hi I'm Jane Doe, but you can call me Ms. Doe", then I would have no problem, and vehemently encourage you to introduce YOURSELF as, "Hi I'm John Smith, but you can refer to me as Mr. Smith." If she balks at this, then you may have to have a heart to heart with her. Something along the lines of, "Wow. You must not want your employees to approach you for any issues." If she asks what you mean, you can simply explain to her that you're not in grade school, nor even college. You are coworkers, and while she *is* the manager on the unit and you will give her your full respect, taking it to these lines is a bit much, and quite frankly more than a little condescending to others.

    I support you 100% on this one. I view it as totally inappropriate, condescending, and rude.

    I *DO* think you should meet her first before making your final decision, because she might be a sweetheart. Heck maybe she's your grandma's age and you really WILL feel more comfortable calling her Ms. Doe b/c she's ancient!

    FWIW having an extensive psych background, I can almost guarantee she knows that this is something that others will have a problems with. In my opinion she would view it as you don't want to let go, but I could be totally wrong and she might not see the error of her ways.
  14. by   ObtundedRN
    If she has a doctorate, I would most likely call her by dr. newboss. Otherwise, if she is calling everyone else by their first name, then she is to be called by her first name too. And if she corrected me on it and asked to be called by Ms. newboss, then I would correct her and tell her to call me Mr. or Nurse and last name.

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