What is the proper way to address an RN?


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Specializes in Infection Control, Med/Surg, LTC. Has 41 years experience.

Lets see, I've been called Hey You, nurse, and the ever infuriating 'waitress'! I prefer Nurse or my first name if they manage to read it from my badge. But I find most people don't read even when they can. I just tell patients that I will be their nurse and simply to call out for the nurse - saves them from trying to remember my name (something I have an awful time with, I've been known to forget my best friends name, and I've known him for 40 years!)


Specializes in ID/DD, CM, UM. Has 7 years experience.

I don't call physicians "Doctor" because they make me. I call them Doctor out of respect.

I agree. At work, it is always Dr. "Nurse Angie" seems somewhat endearing, I don't know what it is about it; but first name is perfectly fine for any nurse :).

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

If a physician makes me call him/her "Doctor___", I insist on being called "Nurse_____.

I don't call them "Doctor" unless they're doing something wrong, annoying me, or both. But when the occaisional physician DOES insist upon being addressed as "doctor", they can address me as "Mrs. Vee." That "Nurse Vee" stuff went out long before I graduated in the 70s.

Very interesting topic--Personally, I prefer to be called by my first name, because being called "Mr. D---" makes me feel like an older coot than I already am. Having been in psych nursing, I usually didn't wear uniforms, so I would get called "Doc" a lot, especially if I happened to wear a white lab jacket. Correcting the misnomer became futile, so I eventuall gave up trying. The only name that every really tickled me was used by some of my older patients--"Male Nurse". "Male Nurse! Male Nurse! Are you a male nurse??" "Well, I tried out for Female Nurse, but I couldn't pass the physical."


Specializes in retired LTC.

Did anybody callout "Yo, Adriane".

"I'm from Jersey, are you from Jersey"? - Joe Piscopo

KelRN215, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pedi. Has 14 years experience.

OP, as you can see, it is HIGHLY dependent on your area of the country. My patients address me by my first name. I've had a few over the years who called me "Nurse First Name", mainly because the parents wanted their young child (patient) to understand that I was a nurse. But I've had kids as young as 2 or 3 address me by first name. In the South, many would consider this rude and not allow their child to address an adult by first name. I also address their parents by their first name. The only time I've ever called a patient's parent "Mr. or Ms. Last Name" is if I didn't know their first name (though I'd have to tread lightly to do this as well as I work primarily inner city and the majority of my patients do not have the same last name as their mothers or siblings).

As far as doctors go, I will call Attendings Dr. Last Name, though if I've known them since they were Residents or Fellows, we're probably already on a first name basis. Residents and Fellows, I've always addressed by first name. That's how I was introduced to them and that's how they respond to me. If I'm communicating with a patient's MD by email for the first time (do that a lot as a home health nurse), I will address them as "Dr. Last Name" but the vast majority of times when they respond, they will sign the email with their first name only. If they do that, I assume that that's how they prefer to be addressed. I'm on a first name basis with most of my own doctors as well. I'd never want one of my doctors to refer to me as Ms. Last Name. Makes me feel old. I worked per diem at a high school a couple years ago that required students address staff as Mr. or Ms. or Mrs. Last Name. I HATED being addressed that way. When I was in high school, we called our school nurse "Tina." I also called all my professors by first name in college and grew up calling all friends' parents by their first names. Last names aren't too commonly used to address people where I'm from.

CT Pixie, BSN, RN

Has 10 years experience.

Most patients and family call me by my first name. On occassion I'll be called Miss CT Pixie.

I've noticed that Miss CT Pixie is usually said by 1 of 3 types of people:

1. raised in the South

2. raised by someone raised in the South

3. Younger people from the more urban areas.

The doctors usually call me by my first name.


Specializes in NICU. Has 11 years experience.

I expect to be called by my first name at work. I also call doctors by their first names when I am speaking with them directly, but if I am addressing them in front of a family, I refer to them as Dr. LastName.

I'm honestly shocked that people actually call nurses "waitress." How disrespectful. I mean I knew nurses are often the brunt of disrespect, but wow that is so bad.

That comment is amazing hahahah

BuckyBadgerRN, ASN, RN

Specializes in HH, Peds, Rehab, Clinical. Has 4 years experience.

When I worked in rehab, there was a woman there who didn't want her Ativan until she was ready for bed. Fair enough, we would tell her just put her light on. She would and then tell the CNA's who'd answer the light "tell the pill lady that I'm ready for my medicine". After a few nights of this I said "you know, you can just call us "nurse" instead of "pill lady". She smiled sweetly, in a clear "I'm in charge" move, and said "Oh, it's just easier for me to call you all pill ladies". I smiled back even sweeter and said "that's all well, but just so you know, some of our nurses are men, and if you ask for "the pill lady", you'll be waiting for your Ativan for a very long time". Smile wiped off of her face, the next words were: "so anyone in light blue clothes are the nurses, right?". Problem solved.


Specializes in Med-Surg and Neuro.

We only have first names on our badges. With the number of nurses who have told me stories of stalker ex-patients, I don't want anyone knowing anything other than my first name.