Jump to content

How do you address nurses with a PhD?

Posted
by SWGOH SWGOH (New) New

I know their official title is "Dr. X" since they have a doctorate degree, but it seems confusing in a clinical setting... at the same time I don't want to be disrespectful. Any nurses here have any insights?

I usually ask how the person likes to be addressed. Matter of fact, don't belabor the question, just ask. When in doubt, use the formal title until he or she tells you differently.

Tenebrae, BSN, RN

Specializes in Mental Health, Gerontology, Palliative. Has 9 years experience.

By their first name perhaps?

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 28 years experience.

"Hey you!"

CelticGoddess, BSN, RN

Specializes in Palliative, Onc, Med-Surg, Home Hospice. Has 6 years experience.

I know their official title is "Dr. X" since they have a doctorate degree, but it seems confusing in a clinical setting... at the same time I don't want to be disrespectful. Any nurses here have any insights?

My cousin, who has a PhD in nursing either goes by her first name (I'll call her Jane Doe) Jane or Mrs. Doe. She prefers that to Dr. Doe. When I get my PhD I'll go by my first name or Mrs. CelticGoddess. It totally depends on the person. Just ask.

I just realized our CNO has PhD and we refer to her by her first name only. She will correct us if we call her Mrs. CNO

Asystole RN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Vascular Access, Infusion Therapy.

Depends on the setting and in what fashion they are presenting themselves.

In the educational or administrative setting it is professional to address them as Dr. Last Name. In the clinical setting around patients you can address them as Dr. Last Name as long as there is an additional qualifier to their position. I use a qualifier for all the physicians as well, "Dr. Last Name, your Oncologist" for example.

As always, when personally interacting with someone ask how they prefer to be addressed.

Many doctorate level professionals will ask that they are not addressed by the title to show humility but it is a professional courtesy to acknowledge their educational achievement.

One thing I learned from years in academic medical centers -- you can never go wrong by calling someone (pretty much anyone) "Dr. So-and-so." Much better to have someone correct you by saying, "Oh, no, please just call me Jane," than to call people you don't know by their first name and get the withering glare and, "That's Dr. So-and-so ..." :)

Edited by elkpark

meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 44 years experience.

I only make my kids call me 'doctor'.

True story.

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

Several of my instructors have Ph.Ds. Most have asked us to address them by the first names. One is completely comfortable being addressed by her first name but most students and other faculty tend to address her as either "Dr. Surname" or "Professor Surname," I think out of respect for her incredible contributions to nursing research and nursing education. It probably also helps she no longer works in the clinical setting so there is less room for confusion.

I typically error on the side of more formal address unless told otherwise, but when in doubt, ask how someone would like to be addressed.

My daughter has a PhD in her field (not nursing). She's Dr. Smartypants, and nobody argues over whether they should call her that. Why do we?

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

I work in a culture where most people (including many physicians and administrators) go by their first names. So I go by my first name. I only use the "Dr." title when there is a special reason to. (Special reasons are rare, but often involve uppitty med students, therapists, or pharmacists who are trying to put nurses down for being less educated.)

I teach part time at a university where it is common for undergraduate students to call the faculty "professor ..." or "Ms., Mr. or Mrs. ...." but that graduate students use first names to demonstrate that we are all nurses and colleagues first and foremost.

cjcsoon2bnp, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in Emergency Nursing.

In the academic setting, as a graduate student I always call my teachers "Dr. Soandso" or "Professor Soandso" but they almost always ask me to call them by their first names (and after that time I will do so). If we are in the presence of undergraduate students or non-nurse I will use the "Dr" or "Professor" honorific first. In the clinical setting, I don't often say "Dr" in the presence of patients because it can be confusing for them and ends up being a huge hassle (and most faculty do not want to deal with the headache either).

!Chris :specs:

I am generally called by my first name, as it is my personal preference. Though my workplace is fairly relaxed, my colleagues and I do sometimes call one another "Mr." "Ms." "Dr." etc. when communicating in relatively more formal settings; i.e. presentations, meetings, certain emails, etc. I introduce my self by my first name and last name to patients, and tell them I am ok with being called by my first name. It's very rare that a patient asks about my educational background, but those that have understand and do not confuse me with an MD.

Buyer beware, BSN

Specializes in GENERAL. Has 40 years experience.

"Hey you!"

Or snuggles.

In some jurisdictions, the nursing regulatory body has actually decreed that only physicians be addressed as "Dr". The rationale given for this is that patients would be confused by non-physicians being called "Dr". Funny that this seems not to apply to psychologists or dentists and that, generally, the college of nurses is all for patient education instead of accommodating ignorance as a matter of policy.

In some jurisdictions, the nursing regulatory body has actually decreed that only physicians be addressed as "Dr". The rationale given for this is that patients would be confused by non-physicians being called "Dr".

Are you quite sure that it's the nursing "regulatory body" that has mandated this, and not the medical board?? I'd like to see some documentation of that, as it sounds highly unlikely to me.

WKShadowNP, DNP, APRN

Specializes in Hospital medicine; NP precepting; staff education. Has 20 years experience.

I only make my kids call me 'doctor'.

True story.

My late father was an educator and some of his students called him dr. Or prof. When he became a dean that was his title. He did not have a doctorate but I lovingly called him dr. Dean daddy.

Are you quite sure that it's the nursing "regulatory body" that has mandated this, and not the medical board?? I'd like to see some documentation of that, as it sounds highly unlikely to me.

I agree. Unfortunately, however, I think this might be possible.

It absolutely amazes me the number of nurses who have so little regard for their own profession and become inebriated by the "only physicians can be called doctor koolaid" that the medical profession spreads.