What is the correct title? - page 4

by Redriver

4,649 Views | 47 Comments

Hello, I am a medical student about to graduate and start residency, and I have a question. I always felt it was rude for doctors to call a nurse by their first name, and before I start residency at a new hospital I wanted to ask... Read More


  1. 0
    Quote from SuzieVN
    Here's a spoofy but poignant exemplar scenario, from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", that brings up the point the OP made...(If you haven't seen the film, this will be lost on you):

    "Hey, Louise- I need a shot of Haldol, I think I'm going crazy!
    Ok, Jack- let me call Bob, and I'll get an order for that.
    Thanks, Louise.
    No problem, Jack."

    Who is Bob? Jack? Louise?

    Does a nurse call a patient by first name? (No, rarely acceptable).
    Does a patient call a nurse by first name? (Yes, almost always).
    Does a patient call a physician by his first name? (No, rarely).
    Does a nurse call a physician by his first name? (Rarely, with conditions).
    Should a physician refer to a nurse by her first name (Rarely, with conditions).

    Politically and professionally correct: Doctor Smith. Nurse Smith. In either direction, until social mores determine otherwise?

    Thoughts?
    In response to your questions, I call ALL my patients and their family members by first name. The majority of my patients are children so calling them by name is a given but I always call parents/grandparents by first name as well. Growing up, I called all my friends' parents by their first names as well. I don't think I've EVER called anyone "Mr." or "Mrs." since graduating from high school other than in rare instances when I didn't know my patients' parents first name- then I would call them "Mr. Jones" or "Mrs. Smith" and they would undoubtedly correct me and say "Joe" or "Suzy". In college, I called all my professors by their first names as well.

    My patients call me by my first name. When I work at school, they are required to call me "Ms. Last Name" but I HATE it. In my high school, we called our school nurse by her first name.

    I am on a first name basis with most of my personal physicians and, with the exception of one, when I communicate with them by email even if I call them "Dr. Johnson" from my side, they will respond and sign their email "Matthew".

    I don't think I ever once called a resident or a fellow "Dr." anything when working in the hospital. We knew them by first name and the parents of our patients called them by first name as well. Attendings we called "Dr. So and So"- in front of the patients when talking about Attendings it was always "Dr. So and So will be by this afternoon" or "I talked to Dr. So and So"; however, out of patients' ear shot, quite often we were on a first name basis with even the Attendings.

    I have never once been called "Nurse Last Name" by ANYONE. I do not expect a physician or a patient to refer to me that way.

    I think this varies widely by area of the country. I did a lot of volunteer work in the south in college and always found it strange when people called their neighbors "Ms. Mary" or "Ms. Jones." I am from New England and, like I said, have been on a first name basis with everyone in my life since childhood. Even my grandfather's friends growing up I called by first name... most of the time ridiculous Italian nicknames too. I am sure in some areas of the country, people would balk at the idea of a 4 year old child calling a 70 year old man "Buddy".
  2. 0
    The facility protocol at my facility is that nurses are referred to as Ms. _____ or Mr. _____ as the case may be. The thinking is that this fosters respectful relationships with the MD staff and the patients. I agree though it is not the norm nationwide. (We all wear all white uniforms.) The best thing to do is ask what the facility protocol is. I guarantee you the facility has a rule for this issue.

    Adding:

    I have been called nurse VICEDRN so many times I can't even count them all!
  3. 0
    In my facility patients are called by their first name, unless requested otherwise. When referring to a physician in front of a patient or paging overhead I use "Dr. Schmo" but best believe I'm going to call you Joe if asking a question. I am on first name basis with all of our doctors, even the locums when addressing them in person. If I have never met the physician in question I introduce myself as B, and have never had anyone respond that they are "Dr So and So.

    I also get called Nurse B by some of our docs, but only when they are razzing me, just as I'll say "strong work Doctor" if they are being silly.

    If anyone called my Mrs. Lastname I'm pretty sure I wouldn't know who they were talking to me, and just plain "Nurse" ain't gonna fly.
  4. 0
    I work in a family med clinic. When we are in the back employee only areas we all use first names only. When with a patient it is Dr Smith, PA Smith, and Nurse Mary. We are introduced by first name but given the title of nurse. Since we seem the same patients on a regular basis once the patients get more comfortable they call everyone by their first name, providers included. I think as long as you are addressing the nurses with a respectful attitude you should not have a problem. One hint we give the residents when they do their four week rotations with our clinic is treat you nurses well and we will go to bat for you but treat the nurses horrible and it will end up being the longest shift of your life. Respect goes a very long way, our residents normally appreciate this tip and really take it to heart.
  5. 0
    First names are fine. I would feel weird if someone referred to me as "Nurse Mary." No one has ever done that me, though. They either call me by my first name or if someone is trying to flag me down in the hallway, they will simply say "nurse" and that is fine, too.

    I also appreciate physicians who learn and use my first name. I work at a smaller hospital where I feel like everyone knows everybody.
  6. 0
    First name for me is just fine.

    We call our docs "Doctor So-and-So" in front of patients. But I'm on a first-name basis with them all outside of the patient's hearing although have to admit I do call them Doctor at times too.

    Patients - start out with Mr. or Mrs. or Miss . . . . then move to first names for the most part after patients ask us to but some patients still insist on proper names.

    Thanks for asking. Good luck!!
  7. 2
    Superwoman Jane
    nursej22 and KelRN215 like this.
  8. 0
    I work in a military facility. I have worked in several. I think we are the exception to the rule.

    I am an Army nurse. I am called Lieutenant Soldiernurse.

    My civilian counterparts are called Mrs. Jones, Ms. Jones, or Mr. Jones. Some of them are still called -*gasp*- Nurse Jones!

    Our docs are called either Dr. Smith or CPT/MAJ/LTC/COL Smith--either by job title or by rank.

    Our patients are addressed with their title and last name.

    Can these formal rules be broken? Yes, but it has to be mutual. For instance, I have had patients who have called me by my first name. I have had patients who asked me to call them by their first name. I have also had doctors who I have known on a first name basis. Is it common? More so with patients than with docs, but yes, it does happen. This might be the little corner of the US where title, rank and formality still applies.
  9. 2
    I would just be happy if the docs I work with actually remembered my name instead of "hey you". It is my job to learn their names...
    SoldierNurse22 and KelRN215 like this.
  10. 0
    This question sounds like it's for a school project. Give me a break!


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