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

  1. 0
    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 seen by someone that introduces themselves as "Dr. So&So", when they are in fact a PA, NP or a RN with a doctorate. While I very much respect NP's and nurses that have earned their doctorate degree, I feel that it can cause confusion with the patients. As for PA's, the PA's that I've seen have a Master's degree in Physician Assistant studies yet some are called Dr. I'm sure that there are PA's out there that have doctorates in some field but not too many that I have seen.

    So, do you feel that it can cause a misunderstanding as to who is a medical doctor and who is not? I'm not trying to start a war here, just want a rational as to why it is a good idea in a clinical setting.

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  2. 67 Comments...

  3. 3
    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.
    nae312213, lindarn, and llg like this.
  4. 0
    I totally agree with a NP being called Dr if they add nurse practitioner into their introduction. The PA's often introduce themselves or are introduced as Dr by a nurse, which I do not agree with. The only ones that my family has seen have been at a Dermatologist office and at Urgent Care Centers on the weekends. Only in one case for me personally, has a PA introduced themselves as one. It wasn't until I looked at their name tag that I noticed the absence of MD when being seen.

    Being a nursing student, I do not want to step on any toes but also want to make sure that my patients know who is seeing them. The last thing I need are NP's, PA's or the patients getting PO'd at me. Just wanted to clarify how to handle all the degrees and who is called what.

    Thanks for the reply!
  5. 0
    I scheduled my daughter a new visit appt with Peds MD a month ago. When I called I said a new DR visit and today we arrived and ended up seeing the PA. The person I spoke to a month ago said DR blah blah so I thought we were seeing a DR ended with PA. She introduced herself as PA. I was little disappointed because I thought I scheduled it with MD not PA. Well she did physical check up basic and we were done.
    I do think the scheduler person should say doctor vs PA. Next time I will ask a doctor or PA for next appointment visit.
  6. 9
    I am a DNP prepared nurse practitioner. I introduce myself as "Blue Devil, Nurse Practitioner." ie, firstname lastname, nurse practitioner. I do not use just Blue, nor do I call myself "Dr. Devil." A few patients call me Dr Devil, although I ask them to call me Blue. I have had some tell me they think it is inappropriate to call me "Blue" because they would not call a physician by their first name either, although it is very common in our practice for patients to call the physicians by their first name. Far more common actually, than to call them "Doctor." Often times they ask me, "What do you want me to call you? and I say "Blue will be fine." The support staff refer to me as "Dr. Devil," as do the other providers (yes, even the physicians, lol) when speaking to patients about me. Yes, sometimes patients get confused. Yes, they sometimes ask for clarification. When they do, someone explains it to them. Pt says "Oh, ok. What time is my next appointment again?" And that's that.

    I choose not to say "I am Dr. Devil, your NP" because I have less than 15 minutes to hear about your toe fuzz, your hair pain, and your 6 year history of jock itch as well as the little incidentals like the fact that you are 60lbs overweight, hypertensive and need to quit smoking and get your colonoscopy. I don't want to spent 5 of those minutes explaining my educational path. I have no time for ego and no interest in apprising you on the various modalities of NP education. It isn't germane and we've got to get on with our respective agendas.

    My state doesn't have any legislation on the issue. My colleagues are proud of me and my fledgling efforts at a new community innovation. I've been on local TV and in the paper, and those reporters all called me "Dr. Devil, nurse practitioner." My guess is most viewers were paying any attention at all were completely befuddled because the TV spot did not offer any explanation whatsoever as to why the nurse practitioner was a doctor, lol. I testified last month at my state legislature and I was introduced on the floor by the speaker as "Dr. Devil, a family nurse practitioner from ______ county." The members addressed me as "Doctor." They understood clearly that I am a NP, believe me, as that is fundamental to the proposal I was making. They were not confused. They understood that I am a NP with an earned doctorate. They paid me the respect I am entitled. Most people are happy to do so. The only people who ever get bent out of shape about it are NPs and medical students on the internet with insecurity issues and/or chips on their shoulders, lol. In my real life experience, all I have ever gotten were some honest questions seeking clarification, and positive feedback. Then we just get on with business.
    chiandre, nae312213, myelin, and 6 others like this.
  7. 1
    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
    amoLucia likes this.
  8. 0
    As a nurse working towards NP, I appreciate your modesty! I feel it is important to never misrepresent yourself especially when it comes to the whole "doctor" designation. Far too many in the ST/OT/PT fields give themselves this designation far too easily. I know several bachelor degree therapists that are "doctors" of "their chosen" therapy.

    Honestly, it doesn't require a doctorate degree to ambulate someone with a gait belt, or give them excercises to fasten shirt buttons, use a reacher, etc.

    I don't mean to slam therapy, but they are the huge profiteers in health care right now, despite their debatable medical benefit and experience
  9. 2
    I'm may be out on a limb here but --- I will address a practitioner with "Doctor" if there is an earned doctorate. I respect the time and effort that went into attaining that degree, so that's just my bent on the subject. In professional/formal circles, I would defer to BlueDevil as 'Doctor". But he addresses his position and title extremely professionally and with tact.

    Now there's a difference with a school administrator (or other) with a PhD or EdD who tries to take advantage of the situation with a self-important attitude. But even in non-healthcare situations, 'Doctor' is stilll indicated as it is earned. JMHO

    I know the professional differences, so that's all I need to know to proceed.
    KelRN215 and realmaninuniform like this.
  10. 1
    As it pertains to PA's, I have yet to meet a "doctor" of Physician Assistance. IMHO a PA, is just that. An assistant. The one's I have had the "pleasure" of working with as a nurse in ED, weren't a few cm's from their smart phone and apps to tell them what to do at all times, and almost always had to verify everything with the attending.

    NP'S are much more autonomous and less medical/industrial/military complex driven. Again, this is just my HO.
    nae312213 likes this.
  11. 0
    BlueDevil- I am not trying to infer that you have not earned the title Doctor. Personally, I have seen misunderstanding as to who is what because of title. As a future nurse, I would like to make sure that I address professionals appropriately and ensure that the patients have no misunderstandings. I figure that it is better to get clarification now before I am taking care of patients when I'm out of school. While doing clinicals, I haven't seen any PA's or NP's yet in the hospital and surely do not want to make a professional gaffe while still in school.


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