Who Gets To Be Called Doctor?

  1. 1
    Many nurses are going back to school to earn doctorate degrees, but does that give them the right to call themselves doctor?
    Many physicians don’t think so, and they are pushing for legislation to restrict who gets to call themselves a doctor, reports New York Times health reporter Gardiner Harris.
    As more nurses, pharmacists and physical therapists claim this honorific, physicians are fighting back. For nurses, getting doctorates can help them land a top administrative job at a hospital, improve their standing at a university and get them more respect among colleagues and patients. But so far, the new degrees have not brought higher fees from insurers for seeing patients or greater authority from states to prescribe medicines….

    Dr. Roland Goertz, the board chairman of the American Academy of Family Physicians, says that physicians are worried that losing control over “doctor,” a word that has defined their profession for centuries, will be followed by the loss of control over the profession itself. He said that patients could be confused about the roles of various health professionals who all call themselves doctors.
    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/1...lled-a-doctor/
    CNA1991 likes this.
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  4. 96 Comments so far...

  5. 24
    Many people have a doctorate level degree. Some choose to be called "Dr", and some rarely draw attention to the degree. These people do have a right to be called Dr if they choose. Medical doctors are further differentiated by the MD (doctor of medicine), as it should be.
    I have a cousin who has a doctorate in education and she never draws attention to it, but we like to tease her by calling her Doctor Mary.
    Doctors of medicine will just have to be careful that their MD is in bold letters on their badges. They don't have a right to take away what others have earned.
    Meriwhen, lenovo, Zombi RN, and 21 others like this.
  6. 14
    Though this argument has been done to death, in my opinion in the academic setting or from colleague to colleague I think addressing one by their terminal degree is appropriate.

    However, when it comes to explaining yourself to your patient - even though etymological root of the title 'doctor' goes back to one who is a teacher - in the clinical setting most patients relate physician = doctor.

    Is it ostentatious that MDs/DOs get the exculsivity? Maybe. Maybe not. But most patients level of understanding is that their doc = a physician, one who practices medicine with all the know-hows and involvement.

    I can definitely see why the docs would fight for this level of recognition; I see it akin to a CNA or PCA calling themselves or a patient mistaking them for a RN (regardless of level of education).

    Personally, I would like to see legislation like they have here in Florida where you have to have a badge that displays your title (RN, NP, PA, MD, ect...) to really make the issue clear cut.

    Heck, if I had it my way, only PhD's with ongoing research would be called 'doctor', and everyone else is a physician, esquires, nurse practioner, ect...
    Last edit by mrmedical on Oct 2, '11
  7. 27
    I am so d@mn sick of this argument. I have to say though, it is one instance where internet debates have totally changed my mind. I used to think I would not call myself doctor. I didn't see the reason, or the need. It's gone too far now, the constant badgering and demeaning of the DNP from all corners. I have snapped. Now I know that I will call myself Dr. Thinker, if for no other reason than just to spite the narcissistic b@s!@rds who have been insulting DNPs on the internet for the past 3-4 years (or longer, but that's as long as I've been participating on this subject). Every time some ignorant fool called it fluff or DNPs wannabe's, or some other insult, I just shook my head, but the frustration was building. This last month or so, the dam broke.

    I've had it. I will not be told what I can and cannot call myself. I will not be told the value of my scholarship by those who have not deemed to attempt it or understand it. So, to all of you anti-DNP people out there, (if you are lurking), Congratulations. You have successfully convinced this DNP-c to use the title Doctor in the clinical workplace (when it is earned,) and more significantly, to lobby for the DNP politically. And guess what? I'm married to one of, if not the top litigator in the mid Atlantic US. I have the means and the connections to have an impact, and I going to use them. I used to think that we should just play nice and let the DNP case be won on the merits. No, no more. I intend to use my husband's considerable connections and political clout to lobby for DNP legislation in my state and in the district and circuit courts if it comes to that.

    Good job. Your hard work at alienating people against the DNP has now made me, and by proxy the largest litigation firm in the SE United States, the number one proponent of the DNP. We have been in touch with state reps (go ahead, write to them, my husband plays golf with them every week, lol), and I am stepping up the campaign. You waged war on us. While now we are fighting back. I thank you, I really do. If you had been reasonable and cooperative, I'd just be Linear, going to work at my little family practice and letting nature take it's course. Instead, I will be Dr. Thinker, and I'll be at the state legislature with at least 25 of my husbands associates in tow and I will mercilessly fight you on every point and every issue until the day I die. I'm 49 and healthy, so en garde!
    matthewandrew, kdrose01, Zombi RN, and 24 others like this.
  8. 5
    You have successfully convinced this DNP-c to use the title Doctor in the clinical workplace (when it is earned,)
    Check your state laws/BON first before you do that. Some states, it is illegal for the nurse to use the title, Doctor, in the clinical setting.
  9. 5
    D.O.s use the title. PhDs in psych wards use the title. I see no reason a nurse shouldn't use the title as well.

    As for the underlying argument that greater education simply drives up costs in the health care market, I have to say that the argument seems to be logical and is intriguing. The problem seems to be that we keep adding more and more practitioners but this doesn't seem to increase access to health care every where.
    kdrose01, Zombi RN, hoopschick, and 2 others like this.
  10. 1


    saw this on msnbc today. i actually agree that it can be misleading to the patient, but legislation is a bit of overkill.


    with pain in her right ear, sue cassidy went to a clinic. the doctor, wearing a white lab coat with a stethoscope in one pocket, introduced herself. “hi. i’m dr. patti mccarver, and i’m your nurse,” she said. and with that,...


    here's the rest of the story in case you missed it.




    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44748258/ns/health-health_care/



    Last edit by sirI on Oct 2, '11 : Reason: edited for copyright purposes
    KUNursingStudent likes this.
  11. 15
    If she has a Ph.D than she is a doctor. If you see a Psychologist (PsyD/PhD) you will call them doctor (even though they cannot prescribe like a Psychiatrist (MD) can), now if you have a counselor (Masters) that's different. You call your dentist (DDS) doctor. Your professor (Ed.D) will be called doctor. If you have earned a doctorate, you have earned the right to be called doctor. JMO.

    Great article though, and she did say she was a nurse.
    Last edit by Mrs. SnowStormRN on Oct 2, '11
    kdrose01, Hospice Nurse LPN, avionics, and 12 others like this.
  12. 0
    Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/02/he...me&ref=general

    NASHVILLE — With pain in her right ear, Sue Cassidy went to a clinic. The doctor, wearing a white lab coat with a stethoscope in one pocket, introduced herself.

    “Hi. I’m Dr. Patti McCarver, and I’m your nurse,” she said. And with that,
    Last edit by sirI on Oct 2, '11 : Reason: edited for copyright purposes
  13. 2
    I agree. PhD= Dr. If she can't use the title then neither can any other Dr of other fields IMHO.
    GooeyRN and NurseAndLovinIt like this.


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