What do you think about nurses and PA's being called "Doctor"? - page 2

by PalmHarborMom 13,728 Views | 67 Comments

I am wondering what everyone thinks about Physician Assistants and Nurses with Doctorate degrees being called "Doctor"? I ask because there have been several times in the last few years that I have had family members be... Read More


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    Quote from realmaninuniform
    Unless you have the initials PhD, MD, or DO, and refer to yourself as a doctor (this includes therapists), you are a fraud and have absolutely 0 credibility, and should be ashamed of yourself not only as a person, but as a member of the healthcare team
    There are other healthcare doctorates besides the PhD, MD, and DO, and plenty of people have earned them. The basic problem here, IMHO, is that physicians (and some segments of the public) somehow have decided that they own the title "Doctor," when it actually is appropriate (and legitimate -- no fraud, shame, or lack of credibility involved) for anyone with an earned doctorate. I completely agree that no one should be representing her/himself as a physician if s/he is not educated and licensed as one, but I have no problem at all with people saying, "I'm Dr. Smith, your nurse practitioner," "I'm Dr. Jones, your cardiologist," etc. (Indeed, if physicians would just do this, the whole issue would just evaporate.)

    BTW, I have worked in psych for nearly 30 years, and doctorally-prepared psychologists are routinely, universally referred to as "Dr. XYZ" by everyone, including psychiatrists, and clients don't seem to have any problem whatsoever distinguishing between Dr. A, the psychiatrist, and Dr. B, the psychologist, and what their roles and responsibilities are. This just isn't a big deal.

    There are plenty of people on this board who have argued at various times, in the debate about NPs moving to doctoral preparation, that an NP with a DNP degree doesn't deserve the honorific, "Dr.," because a DNP "isn't a real doctorate." If you share that kind of thinking and that motivated your post, please keep in mind that that is purely your personal opinion. The degrees are just as "real" and legitimate as any other doctoral degree awarded by a legitimate, accredited school.
    Rebekulous, myelin, KelRN215, and 5 others like this.
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    Just as DNP prepared practitioners should be called "doctor", as the title was definitely earned, then so should the billing be the same. This where I can only hope, I too, can contribute to the betterment of Nursing. Seeing that DNP graduates provide equal, and often times better primary and specialty care than our MD counterparts, DNP's have earned equal or better pay! How many times have we nurses trained the new MD grads? I love them all, and I have a great working relationship with all MD's I've worked with. Given the necessary changes that must occur to make healthcare sustainable, Nurses must find ways to quantify our value and stand up for it. Blue Devil, I hope you place yourself in the board room soon, if not already. Not only is the title well deserved, the pay should match the skill level.
    amoLucia likes this.
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    I believe that those who hold the educational degree of doctor should be referred to as Dr. _____ regardless of education or setting.

    A doctor is a doctor regardless of the setting. My patients who are Phd/MD/DNP are all referred to by their formal title.

    A dog is a dog, a duck is a duck, a doc is a doc.
    SL2014 and KelRN215 like this.
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    My dentist is a DDS, and I call him Dr. so-and-so. Same with our vet, a DVM. Doctorate-level psychologists are absolutely called Dr. If my husband were a professor, he would be Dr. with his PhD. My father-in-law has an Ed.D., and they call him Dr. Doctor means doctorate of something, MD, or DO. Physician means MD. I think patients can understand that some "doctors" are physicians, and some are not.
  5. 2
    Quote from realmaninuniform
    Unless you have the initials PhD, MD, or DO, and refer to yourself as a doctor (this includes therapists), you are a fraud and have absolutely 0 credibility, and should be ashamed of yourself not only as a person, but as a member of the healthcare team
    Or DNP, doctor of podiatry, optometry, dentistry, etc., of course.

    I'm not modest, so much as pressed for time. I don't care to explain it, so I'd prefer to side step the issue all together.

    OP, I didn't take the topic offensively. Dialogue is always a good thing, IMO. I am aware that it is a hot button issue. I am aware that there are many who don't think I ought to be able to call myself "Doctor" at all, and that I should not be able to practice as I do, and that there are people out there who would/will never deign to be a patient of mine for one reason or another. I have nothing to prove to them. I have proven what I wanted to, to myself. I am long past the point of caring about the rest. If I fail to convince the infidels that I am a safe, effective provider of primary care, and actually have a few pretty awesome things to offer, that's ok, I can live with that. I have my hands full as it is. My panel is full, my day is full, my life is full. I am just about self actualized over here, lol.

    I do not get into @#$$ing matches about the DNP. My only goal is to prevent other interested students and NPs from being disillusioned by negative comments, especially coming from people who do not hold a DNP, and have not matriculated into a DNP program. More often than not, those individuals really do not present a very thorough understanding of what the programs have to offer. Why they feel compelled to rail against what they do not understand, I'll never understand, but I cannot sit by and let ignorance dash someone else's dreams or curiosity. There are valid criticisms of DNP programs, and those should be heard and discussed. Inflammatory rhetoric from people with an axe to grind should be marked as what it is.
    Last edit by BlueDevil,DNP on Oct 10, '12
    Phoenixbyrd and KelRN215 like this.
  6. 0
    Quote from PalmHarborMom
    I am wondering what everyone thinks about Physician Assistants and Nurses with Doctorate degrees being called "Doctor"?
    See our previous threads for this often disucssed topic.

    2005: Should DNPs be called doctors? - Nurse Practitioners (NP)

    2006: Can you be called "Doctor" with a PhD in Nursing?

    2009: Nurses, physicians weigh in on new doctoral nurse degree

    2011: Who Gets To Be Called Doctor? - Nursing News

    2012: NPs practicing as DRs

    Nurses Masquerading As Doctors


    There are many different "doctor" types providing healthcare services and are permitted to use the title doctor if

    a. Licensed as: Medical Physicians & Surgeons; Podiatrists; Optomitrist; Pharmacist, Physical Therapist; Dentists and Oral Surgeons

    b. Received Doctorate degree in healthcare profession: Nursing, CRNA, Nurse Practitioner, Psychologist, Audiologist, Speech Therapist, Public Health etc.
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Oct 11, '12
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    I'm not familiar with PAs, but if the NP has a doctorate? I really don't see the big deal.
    I've 1 or 2 friends with doctorate degrees. In education and I forget the other's field. Something business oriented.
    Anyway, they don't run around tooting their horns. But - it's appropriate to address them by their professional title, i.e., 'doctor'.

    On another note, if I choose to go to NP school? I'd shy away from the term while in a medical setting. If other people refer to me with that term...ok. For me to do it?
    Well, in that context, it smacks of misrepresentation. I also wouldn't want to confuse the pt's. When you say 'doctor' in a medical setting, it's synonomous with 'physican'. Everyone expects one thing and the nonphysican with a doctorate is something else.
    That's just me.

    ...but this is the internet. Things tend to differ in the real world, as BLUE DEVIL mentions. I wouldn't call myself that but I don't see that most are that anal about such a thing.
    When I was doing the radiology thing, I'd address the ER NP as I did the ER docs: 'Hey, Doc! Got a question for you -- ' LOL
    Everyone did. He did attempt to correct it, but it was a losing battle.

    There was a PA that we addressed with that title. In that instance, it's like 'step-promoting' someone to a higher position. They weren't _______ , but they should have been _____.
    It was a show of respect.
    The docs did it, too. Most physicians really aren't the ego-driven a-holes that some want to think they are.

    I've had an NP for a provider, too. I always called her 'doctor' or even 'My doctor, Nurse Paula..."
    The receptionist didn't even bat an eyelash at this.
    LOL
    Reflexivley.
    I knew that she was something of a nurse. However, she wasn't exactly a nurse. She had a PhD. She was functioning in a doc's slot as my medical 'provider'. She was making independant medical decisions and writing orders and such regarding my care.
    Whatever.
    Sounds like a 'doctor', to me. LOL
    Like someone else on this thread, I call my dentist 'doctor', too. I call my dog's vet a 'doctor', because he is.
    A doctor of puppies.

    I figure that those with doctorates can call themselves 'doctor'. Let the 'medical' doctors call themselves 'physicians', if differentiating themselves from the rest of the PhDs who worked just as hard for their 'stripes' is that big of a deal.
  8. 0
    Quote from FLmed
    PAs should never refer to themselves as a doctor, even though they are often just as smart. It's not ethical for them to introduce themselves this way. As far as NP who has obtained a doctorate. They are a doctor and deserve this title and designation. I don't have a problem with them wanting to be referred as such. Just my opinion. With that said, I do see where you are coming from. Perhaps the introduction could be, "Hello, I'm Dr. Smith. I'm one of the nurse practitioners who works here." If the patients asks, the NP can further discuss why they are a doctor too.
    *** Wow, just wow. So an NP earns a doctorate and should be called doctor but a PA earns a doctorate and should "never" be refered to as doctor? Or mayby you are unaware that PAs can earn doctorates just as NPs can?
    I have worked with many PAs who held doctorats (also with new graduated PAs in the last few years who had associates degrees). In my case all of them were graduates of the US Army's Emergency Physician Assistant Residency program. None of them called themselves doctor and none were called doctor by staff. Same is true for those NPs & CRNAs who have doctorate degrees. Nobody calls them doctor and they don't refer to themselves as doctor in our health care system.
    However if an NP with a doctorate should be called doctor (and I don't think they should be) then for sure a PA with doctorate whould also be called doctor.
  9. 3
    Considering the title "Doctor" is a title of educational achievement, why would you hold a distinction between the educational specialty? Why can we not call all those who hold the educational achievement title of Doctor, Doctor?

    This argument in tantamount to saying that only Med Surg nurses should be called nurses and that L&D nurses must use some other title because, well because.
    Rebekulous, KelRN215, and elkpark like this.
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    "There are plenty of people on this board who have argued at various times, in the debate about NPs moving to doctoral preparation, that an NP with a DNP degree doesn't deserve the honorific, "Dr.," because a DNP "isn't a real doctorate." If you share that kind of thinking and that motivated your post, please keep in mind that that is purely your personal opinion. The degrees are just as "real" and legitimate as any other doctoral degree awarded by a legitimate, accredited school."

    There seems to be some misunderstanding here. I don't have a problem with addressing someone, anyone, as "Doctor" provided that they have the credentials, i.e. a phd, md, or do. Never once did I say a DNP isn't "a real doctorate." I was referring to the "doctors" of physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy. Most of which who have less than a common masters degree. None of which who have prescriptive authority for anything. As for PA's, they are not doctors, period. To the best of my knowledge their is no such thing as a doctorate in physician assistance. The very sound of it is an oxymoron.

    As for the other fields, a phd, is a doctor. I referred to many college prof's as doctors, not because they were medical doctors, but because they had earned their doctorate of philosophy in their field.


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