"Sir or Ma'am" when addressing physicians?

Nurses General Nursing


  • Specializes in Pediatric Rehabilitation.

You are reading page 4 of "Sir or Ma'am" when addressing physicians?

  1. When addressing physicians, I..

    • 14
      ALWAYS say, "sir" or "ma'am"
    • 21
      SOMETIMES say, "sir or "ma'am"
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      NEVER say, "sir" or "ma'am"
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      You're kidding, right? This is 2012!
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      It's simply a personal choice.

116 members have participated

Specializes in Trauma, ER, ICU, CCU, PACU, GI, Cardiology, OR.

certainly, the military service embedded this in my brain and it's a custom with me. having said that, i don't over use it during a conversation with a physician, which most of the time i address them by doctor whether they are male or female it makes it easier :D

Snicker.. snort... wheeze...

I will call them sir or madam.. when they refer to me in the same manner.


38,333 Posts

I use the term 'doctor' unless they express another preference.

MN-Nurse, ASN, RN

1,398 Posts

Specializes in Med Surg - Renal.
Only thing different with me is that I absolutely refuse to call them by their first names, even if they address themselves by first name. I personally feel that they deserve the title of "Dr." simply because of the hard work and sacrifice necessary to become a MD.

You proved the point of my original response.

Anyway, if an MD says to me, "Hi it's Josh," I am going to call him Josh. Someone who did the "hard work and sacrifice to become an MD" certainly deserves to be addressed by their first name if they prefer.


214 Posts

Specializes in Ambulatory Surgery, PACU,SICU.

It just depends on the situation. Some dr's I always use sir/ma'm, and with others I do no not. I am however, always polite. :nurse:


597 Posts

Specializes in OR Hearts 10.

Sir and Maam are not just southern. I grew up in Chicago, and that was the way we were taught manners back in the olden days..

Plus I spent 6 years in the Navy, so Sirs just fall out naturally.......I might say, yes Maam to a nurse sitting next to me if they ask for some help.....never really think about it

Anna Flaxis, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 2,816 Posts

I don't refer to *anyone* as "Sir" or "Ma'am". I just wasn't brought up that way. The way I address a doctor depends on how familiar I am with them. Doctors that I work with on a regular basis, I will call by their first name when not in earshot of patients/family members. Doctors that I do not know very well, I address by the title "Doctor" and their last name.


204 Posts

I always say Dr unless I am responding with a yes or no. Then I say yes sir or no sir. I'm not quite sure why other than I live in the south and teachers where I am from are big on the yes or no sir thing. It's not at all an elder thing for me because I tell my daughter yes ma'am all the time when she asks me a yes or no question. I do it more out of habit than anything else and rarely realize how much I say it.

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage.

I work in a large teaching hospital, nights to boot, and it seems like most of my interactions with doctors begin with "hi, I'm the resident covering XYZ service" so they become The Urology Resident or The Med-4 Resident. Our on-service docs are known as doctor but only really as "Doctor (shortened nickname/pet name)". So Doctor Smith is really referred to as Doctor S. Sort of thing. Our NPs are called by their last names only.

I actually think it would be kind of neat to be called Nurse (Dirtyhippeigirl) -- but nobody has ever done that with me. However, it's still a title, albeit not as prestigious as doctor.


22 Posts

If the nurse's use of "sir" was different than his typical conversation with other colleagues then I understand your point, OP. In other words, the use of sir/ma'am and other titles is highly dependent on region/culture ... but in a hospital setting, physicians are nurses' colleagues, not superiors. (with certain exceptions - department heads, my hospital's CEO, etc.) So if the nurse you are describing was being particularly deferential to a physician because he was a physician, then the nurse might want to give some thought to his interactions with colleagues and how they set up future interactions. If his speech patterns include heavy use of sir/ma'am with all individuals with whom he does not have a personal relationship, then there's probably no harm in politeness.

Pretty much my thoughts exactly . . .being as young as he is and especially if he was raised in the south, sir and maam are a big deal and are probably a hard habit for him to break. I think anybody who is bothered or annoyed by being called sir or maam will eventually correct him and say "Hey, you don't need to call me that." If he's a 24-year-old kid raised with southern values he probably says maam and sir to the janitor too and I don't really think you can be "too" polite.

However, just wait 'til some doctor chews him a new butt because he's had to call at 3am and wake him/her up for orders . . . he might tone down the sir/maam thing then. Lol


75 Posts

Hi ,

I would like to get some studnts work together to prepare CRNE .welcome to join with me as a team!

Thank you!


75 Posts

Hi ,

I would like to get some studnts work together to prepare CRNE .welcome to join with me as a team!

Thank you!

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