Should DNPs be called doctors?


allnurses Guide

ghillbert, MSN, NP

3,796 Posts

Specializes in CTICU. Has 27 years experience.

There's a sticky thread in the Advanced Practice (NP) forum which discusses this in detail.


3,778 Posts

Specializes in Trauma,ER,CCU/OHU/Nsg Ed/Nsg Research. Has 15 years experience.

Here is my perspective as a PhD student (who WILL use the title of Dr. in the academic/research setting:

1.) Physicians do not 'own' the title of 'Dr.' Those with doctoral degrees own the title. Physicians do, however, own the title of 'Physician.'

2.) DNPs aren't going to go around in the clinical setting calling themselves doctors. They are proud to be nurses.

3.) The AMA does not get to decide who gets to own the title of Dr.- This is an academic title. I find it ironic that the AMA is trying so hard to demand that physicians gain ownership of this title, when they borrowed the term from academia in the first place. When you think of it this way, they have not earned the title of "Doctor."

Specializes in Pre-Nursing Student.

I don't see why you wouldn't be refered to as a doctor. I had to call my english teacher in high school Dr. so&so because she "earned" her doctor title, and what about "doctor" phil? Its the same principle, I think that if you spend that much time in school then you deserve the respect. When I (eventually) have my doctorate your damn right I will be called Dr. , Dr. Nurse that is, lol....

Only if they specify they are a nurse....

....'Dr' within the hospital refers to physician - in the eyes of the public.

Over time this can change by educating patients / public on changes in nursing as a profession ;)


41 Posts

I think that anyone acheiving a doctoral degree earns the right to be addressed as Dr. This is going to be an interesting fight. And as more DNP's graduate we will see it flare. Sadly nurses do not realize that if we would band together we would be a force to reckon with stronger than the AMA.

BabyLady, BSN, RN

2,300 Posts

Specializes in NICU, Post-partum.

2.) DNPs aren't going to go around in the clinical setting calling themselves doctors. They are proud to be nurses.

Depends on where you work.

We have one DNP who is an NP that practices at our hospital. She is referred to as "Dr. Smith". When she walks into the room of a patient, she introduces herself as Dr. Smith and tells patients that she is a nurse practitioner.

UVA Grad Nursing

1,068 Posts

The ED at UVA's Medical Center has 4 RNs with PhD degrees (and one more working on his DNP). The Medical Director (a physician) has indicated that since they have earned doctorates, the title of Dr should be used. Just as with BabyLady's case, staff are encouraged to use "Dr" when speaking of these nurses to patients.

I've seen one of them introduce herself to patients as "I'm Dr. Lastname, I am your nurse".

Patients can be educated about the changing face of medicine. Not all who wear long white coats are physicians. Not all women are RNs and men are doctors anymore. The title issue is just another teachable moment.

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