"Sir or Ma'am" when addressing physicians?Register Today!
This is a discussion on "Sir or Ma'am" when addressing physicians? in General Nursing Discussion, part of General Nursing ... Just curious to the general opinion of fellow nurses. Raised and practice in the south, but ran...by nurs4kids Apr 10, '12Just curious to the general opinion of fellow nurses. Raised and practice in the south, but ran into a funny debate this past week. While I was raised to say ma'am and sir, it is not my practice to do so when addressing doctors at work. Maybe because I'm older than most of them or perhaps it just isn't customary? I'm not sure.
The debate arose as another coworker and I listened (and cringed) to a nurse on the phone with a doctor. A well raised (by southern standards) 24 year old, he seems to amost be excessive with the, "yes, sir..yes, sir...yes sir" in his telephone conversations. He's a great kid (I only pray mine will turn out so well) and when we mentioned to him he may want to tone down the "sir's" he was visably offended. We tried explaining that he was setting himself up to be "run over" by being submissive, but he didn't buy that--said if he got run over it'd be because he allowed himself to be run over, not because he was being respectful (he may have a point?).
Most of our physician's are not from the south and most that we deal with are residents, so they are also very young.
All this left me pondering what is the PROFESSIONAL standard for addressing physicians?
Food for thought...Poll: When addressing physicians, I..
ALWAYS say, "sir" or "ma'am"
SOMETIMES say, "sir or "ma'am"
NEVER say, "sir" or "ma'am"
You're kidding, right? This is 2012!
It's simply a personal choice.
Print and share with friends and family.
Compliments of allnurses.com.
http://allnurses.com/showthread.php?t=695654©2013 allnurses.com INC. All Rights Reserved.
- Apr 10, '12 by stablesystoleI vary based on my interactions and history with a given physician. Also according with the inconvenience and/or nuisance of a given call. By default I'll always speak in terms like that, but if a physician doesn't reciprocate with respectful interaction, I'll drop my own.
- Apr 10, '12 by Kittypower123I pretty much call everyone sir or ma'am, but not necessarily everytime I speak with them. Some conversations just don't call for it. I will start off a conversation with a doctor using their name and the conversations don't always call for anything more.
- Apr 10, '12 by MeriwhenI call them whatever they want to be called (some have requested I call them by their first names)...but if they don't have a preference, I'll default to Doctor or Mr./Ms. X. I also hand disrespect right back to them.
- Apr 10, '12 by AltraIf the nurse's use of "sir" was different than his typical conversation with other colleagues then I understand your point, OP. In other words, the use of sir/ma'am and other titles is highly dependent on region/culture ... but in a hospital setting, physicians are nurses' colleagues, not superiors. (with certain exceptions - department heads, my hospital's CEO, etc.) So if the nurse you are describing was being particularly deferential to a physician because he was a physician, then the nurse might want to give some thought to his interactions with colleagues and how they set up future interactions. If his speech patterns include heavy use of sir/ma'am with all individuals with whom he does not have a personal relationship, then there's probably no harm in politeness.
- Apr 10, '12 by AnonRNCWhen I speak privately to a physician (over the phone, in a work area, during multidisciplinary rounds), I call them by their first name. When I speak to the physician in front of patient/family OR when I refer to the physician, while speaking to patient/family, I call them Dr. So-and-So.
- Apr 10, '12 by classicdamesmall community hospital in the south - I end up calling most by first name as they are neighbors and church family too
- Apr 10, '12 by MN-NurseI think you are making too big a deal about this. I've had MDs call me "sir."
- Apr 10, '12 by BostonTerrierLoverRNLol, I'm southern, so it's always with me- younger too, just now seeing Docs younger than me.
I also return the same respect to my Nurse Elders until they either "ok" not saying it (or threaten bodily harm if use sir/ma'am again!) Just a norm here, I'm not unique from what I've seen.
Also, even if on a first name basis with an elder colleague, it's Mr./Ms./Mrs. (e.g. Jane Doe=Ms. Jane/Ms. Doe according to what permissions have been given.) Her peers might call her "Jane," but I would not dare until I am given formal permission.
Now that I travel nurse (especially Western US, and Florida) they look at me like I am crazy, then consider my accent, and I get a pass. It's all in the name of respect to me, and I thing think they realize that.
- Apr 10, '12 by netglowYikes.
Never even as a child used the word "Sir". Mr. Mrs. Ms. was formal enough for me. I say, Dr. _______. If meeting an MD and that person corrects me and offers a first name, I will use that first name always if I remember it. I am notorious for just saying, "Doc" in place of "Hey you" if I forgot the name or don't care at the moment - a generic for me.