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Medical Assistants Call Themselves Nurses

Nurse Beth   (158 Views 1 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

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Dear Nurse Beth,

I am a nurse at a doctor's office. We have a lot of CMAs and they all call themselves nurses. Everyone calls them nurses. There have been posts on social media recently about one of our CMAs who did a good deed and they refer to her as a nurse. I am very bothered by calling someone a title they are not. I do not call myself a doctor. How can this be reported?

Dear Nurse,

It's not uncommon for medical assistants in a doctor's office to call themselves nurses. But it is wrong on many levels.

It's confusing, misleading, and disrespectful.

It confuses the general public when we already as a profession strive to communicate what we do and the value we bring. A patient may be told something by a medical assistant and give it the weight of having been educated or informed by a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), or Registered Nurse (RN).

Imagine a patient calling in to talk to a nurse and being told "I am a nurse" by a medical assistant. This could be considered practicing nursing without a license.The public has a right to know who they are dealing with. Airline stewardesses do not call themselves pilots and security guards are not policemen.

In many states it is illegal to represent yourself as a nurse when you are not a nurse. Medical assistants fill important functions, including drawing blood and giving injections, and should be proud of their title, but they are not nurses.

In all states, it is illegal to claim a license you do not hold, and to impersonate a nurse.

Unfortunately, the word "nurse" is overused and watered down. As a profession we must not allow that to continue. We have a duty to protect our titles.

Please speak up to your supervisor. Explain to the CMAs that it is not OK to refer to themselves as a nurse, and to do so is not legal. Name badges should include titles. Another strategy is to have medical assistants wear colored scrubs, and nurses wear a different color.

Best wishes, 

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

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