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What is the proper way to address an RN?


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Specializes in critical care.

Our ED docs go by their first names. I love it, actually. The vibe in the ED is everyone trusts and works with each other as a team. The hospitalists, however, go by Dr. Hospitalist.

KelRN215, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pedi. Has 14 years experience.

I would be horrified to call a doctor by his or her first name. And I've never heard a doctor refer to himself to me that way, like "Hey it's John returning your call." (I'd be like, which John? Cardiologist John Smith or Nephrologist John Jones?) We do have one doctor who goes by "Dr. Firstname" but it's not his real first name -- he is Thai and both his names are too hard for most people, so he gave himself a nickname. Even doctors I have a good working relationship with, joke with and call often, are always Dr. Lastname. I will occasionally call a Dr "sir" or "ma'am" but I live in the South and it's more of a habit.

Only my younger pts remember my first name and call me by that. If the pt is urban and younger, as another poster mentioned, they will call me Ms. Firstname.

Although I am in my early 30s, I am weird about married name stuff. If I were a pt, I'd prefer to be called Mrs. Lastname. The only two times I've been hospitalized, it was for L&D, and most of the time they do call the pts Mrs. Whoever. But I felt a grating feeling inside when a few nurses addressed me familiarly by my first name. (I was not a nurse then.) I didn't say anything, just unclenched and moved on with my life.

I don't get what's so horrifying about calling someone by his given name, a name that he has been called by since birth. I literally have never called a Resident or Fellow "Dr. Last Name." I've always been introduced to them by first name and called them as such. Attendings who I've known since they were Residents or Fellows, I've always maintained a first name basis relationship with. Actually, I can only think of one doctor in all my years of being a nurse (and a patient) who wouldn't answer to her first name and insisted on being called "Dr. Last Name"... it was a power trip thing, I think, as one of the NPs who worked with her said she once lent her something outside of work and even in that context, she felt that the expectation was that she address her as "Dr".

I think about this thread every time one of my 2, 3 or 4 year old patients call me by my first name. I'D be absolutely horrified if they called me "Ms. Last Name." Most of these patients and their parents are on a first name basis with their doctors too. But, then again, I live in the North and as I think I said earlier in this thread, I've never called anyone but teachers growing up Mr or Mrs Last Name. In college, the vast majority of my professors and ALL my nursing professors (all of whom had doctorate level degrees) wanted to be addressed by their first names.


Specializes in Peds, PICU, NICU, CICU, ICU, M/S, OHS.... Has 14 years experience.

Umm, nurse? For my patients, I always make sure they know my name so they call me Sofla.


Specializes in NICU. Has 11 years experience.

I work in the NICU, so we have a relatively small group of doctors who we work closely with on a daily basis. I do address some of our specialists by Dr. LastName because I don't have a close, collegial working relationship with them. I do call one of our attendings Dr. LastName because this is his expectation, but the rest I only refer to formally if I am talking about them to a patient or addressing them while they are with a patient family.

JBudd, MSN

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

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.

hmmm, its better than "you copulating caucasian female canine" (words have been euphemized to avoid asterisks :lol2: )

Ruby Vee, BSN

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

hmmm, its better than "you copulating caucasian female canine" (words have been euphemized to avoid asterisks :lol2: )

That one deserves a freakin' beverage alert! And a gold star for creativity.


Specializes in Cardiac, ER, Pediatrics, Corrections.

In the prison, the inmates call me by my first name or "Ma'am." The doc is called "Doc."

Tenebrae, BSN, RN

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

Or the ever popular, "Hey Miss Nurse!"

I prefer "Your imperial Majesty" :yes:

When the new facility owners gave us new name tags with our full names in big, big, big letters, we whited out our surnames with white out or white correction tape.

Patient Rights stipulate that a patient has the right to know who is involved in their treatment.

What you guys fail to understand is that if someone really wants to know who you are and where you live all they have to do is follow you home. Most places have online property records so all they need is your address(if you own the place).