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DNP Discussions

When the Nurse Wants to be Called Doctor

Published July 23, 2014 8:38 AM by Keischa Cash

Getting my DNP was challenging, but, unfortunately, my employer was not as supportive as I had hoped of my hard-earned achievement. When I received my doctorate I intended to introduce myself as Dr. Cash to patients and wanted staff to address me as such, as well. I found out this would be harder than I thought.

The organization I work for is highly physician-centered. Yes, they still reference NPs and PAs as midlevel providers and physician extenders. I despise these terms. I was told I could not address myself as Dr. Cash because I, in fact, was not a doctor. I promptly challenged this pointing out that I was not a physician, but I was a doctor. I thought it absurd to only allow physicians to call themselves doctor. The clinic clearly employed other non-physician doctorate-prepared professionals. What were they calling themselves? Were they okay with this? Had anyone ever challenged this before? I would be the first.

I was told by a higher up in the company that the clinic had never allowed and would never allow other non-physician providers to use the title doctor and in his words (not mine) said, "let's face it, PhD's are not real doctors!"

I about choked, thinking, Could he really be serious?

Did he even know the difference between a DNP and a PhD? I am not even sure he knew what a DNP was. Certainly didn't sound like it! Clearly this was a teaching moment. So began my quest to be ‘allowed' to call myself doctor and bring awareness to the DNP title with my current employer.

I was asked to write a letter to the board of directors and our credentialing committee as to why I should be allowed to introduce myself as "doctor." How absurd I thought, but I did it.

It took them six weeks to respond and it came in the form of a letter from the medical director (whom I still have NEVER met). Initially, they were not going to allow me the privilege, but realized it was not within their right to deny me. They also said they would not address me as Dr. Cash - only as Keischa Cash, DNP - in all clinic correspondence, publications, newsletters, emails, marketing materials and website mentions. I still don't know how I feel about this.

I challenge all DNPs to go for what you want. Fight for what you believe in. Because we (DNPs) are still so young in our existence, we MUST challenge the status quo. We are knowledgeable, highly educated and have a lot to offer employers that are willing to see beyond traditional nursing roles and titles.

Lastly, let me be clear, this is not about titles. It's about putting NPs and the profession I love in the forefront. This is about all of the DNPs that will follow me.

My quest to change existing paradigms has only just begun. Wish me luck.


If you have not AT LEAST educated yourself on the definitions of these terms, then we reserve the right to dismiss your entire comment. A doctor and a physician are not the same. A physician holds a doctorate degree...and so does a DNP. Both have a set of skills unique to his or her profession. It is not the fault of the DNP that you lack the ability to differentiate between titles and degrees. And in a sense, it IS about titles. Because it is absolutely wrong and complete bigotry to expect a doctorate-prepared nurse to respect the physician's title and he or she can't respect the title of the DNP. And let's be completely clear, not all "doctors" went to medical school. Some of the "doctors" you people are putting in this God-like position went to a school of osteopathic medicine and is a DO, not an MD. Yet, you call them "doctors." (as you should) EDUCATE YOURSELVES before knowingly or unknowingly demeaning someone's profession. A profession that saves lives 7 days a  week, 24 hours a day. It takes hard work to gain a Doctorate of Nursing Practice.

PS. There are millions of nurses, with or without a doctorate degree, that saved the physician from killing you or your loved one! Yet, the physician got all of the credit. Trust me.

N. Nicole, BSN, RN July 8, 2017 10:02 PM
Winter Haven FL

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Deweykib Deweykib, , $500 per day Deweykib June 27, 2017 7:09 AM
puerto galera NJ

Honestly, I find many of the posts here absolutely absurd. Anyone who has earned a doctorate in any field deserves the title of "doctor". Anyone with a DNP is in fact someone who has earned a doctorate in nursing and is granted the use of the title Dr.

I am a masters prepared NP but plan to pursue my DNP/PhD once my husband finishes his pharmD. Personally, I plan to introduce myself by my first and last name and my title as a family Nurse Practitioner (or in some cases I just leave it at "nurse practitioner"). I am always very clear about my title of nurse practitioner and enjoy answering questions patients ask about my role and the differences between NPs, PAs, MDs, etc.

HOWEVER, I am appalled by the fact that many individuals here think that it is not acceptable for those who have earned a DNP to call themselves Dr. when introducing themselves. I absolutely do not agree with anyone, NP or otherwise, misleading/misrepresenting themself as a medical doctor. That is against the law and anyone who does so should be punished appropriately. As long as someone identifies themself in a complete manner, such as including that they are a nurse practitioner, that is entirely acceptable.

My big question is this - would you tell your dentist that you are going to call him Bill instead of Dr. Jones because he isn't a "real doctor?" Of course not. Or... would you have called a college professor by his/her first name despite having a doctorate in his/her field? Absolutely not.

Bottle line... doctor = doctoral level education and degree. Physician = medical doctor.

Lastly, I have many friends in the medical field. Many friends who are MD's, NP's, PA's, RN's, pharmD's, etc. and I respect every single one of them for their knowledge and education and what they bring to the table so we can all work as a team to care for our patients together. We all help each other to fill in the gaps for one another.

Its all about the care we give our patients and building a trusting relationship. I admit when I don't know something, but I make effort to find the answer. I go to my physician colleagues all the time when I have a question or need some suggestions. I absolutely don't know everything and frankly there is far more that I don't know than what I do know (let's be honest, this is true for most people), but I make every effort to find an answer or solution to provide the best care for my patients.

My last thought... I've seen all types of providers in my personal life as a patient. In many cases I do not reveal the fact that I am in health care to my provider unless it's relevant. I have experienced providers of all varieties (NP's, MD's, PA's, RN's, PT's, etc) that I loved and some that I've disliked. In the end it's about patient care, not a title.

M L, MS, FNP June 12, 2017 1:59 AM

Myself and my cohorts introduce themselves as such; Hello I am Dr. (fill in the blank) I am your nurse practitioner and I will be caring for you today. I have 8 plus years of schooling and have earned the title, just like all the of the DO's, MD's, PhD's and doctoral people before me and after me. Because I am a nurse does not make what I have accomplished any less than other professions. MD's are not the only profession to be addressed as Dr. It is not a profession but a degree!

Cathy Frazier, DNP - Dr. June 10, 2017 10:09 PM
Cape Coral FL

OBV this IS about titles, or you wouldn't be so Butt-Hurt. If you wanted to be called a Doctor so bad, should have went to Med school.

John smith June 9, 2017 5:19 PM

I'm an acute care NP serving on active duty in the military. I completed my Masters in 2008, and finished my post-Masters DNP in 2016. I decided to obtain the DNP degree because I'm interested in pursuing a teaching career after my time in the Air Force is up in a few years. I'm interested in combining teaching with a clinical practice.

Most of the faculty openings in the geographical areas I'm looking to move to with my family require a doctorate in nursing; thus I thought having the DNP would make me more competitive for some faculty positions.

Here's my own point of view about titling. In the military, I'm addressed my rank. I personally introduce myself to patients (those who aren't intubated) and their friends/family by my first name, and I tell them I'm an NP. In civilian practice, I plan to go by my first name, and make it clear what my position is. If colleagues and patients refer to me as "doc," I won't have a problem with that, as long they know I'm an NP.

In the academic setting, I'll follow the institution's custom. My experience in school is that students addressed the instructors as "Dr. So-and-so," if they had a doctorate. Otherwise they went by their first name.

Jason Grimm, Critical Care - ACNP May 20, 2017 3:17 AM

I dont understand, if the plee is to show that DNP program and previous nursing background amounts to a similar level of training then why isnt the argument to allow DNP students to take the same STANDARDIZED NATIONAL BOARD EXAMS as the DO or MD. This would lay to rest all the bickering and place things in a STANDARDIZED format with no ambiguity. If you want to be called a doctor in the clinical setting, then at least argue that DNP should be allowed to take the same exams to prove a similar level of knowledge. Its what is fair to the patient.  

Jim Sanders , DVM, DO May 11, 2017 9:00 PM

The term doctor is not specific to physicians. I find older people really  do not like NP's or PA's. DNP is a doctor in nursing and is indeed a doctor. As long as you tell the patient you are a doctor in nursing then all is good and perfectly legal.

c Matthe April 12, 2017 11:40 AM
Johnson city NY

I really disagree that calling yourself a doctor is in the best interests of your patients. Patients go to clinics and are told they are going to see a doctor. They expect a medical doctor because that IS what a doctor is in the medical field that anyone cares about. I confronted a nurse practitioner about this fact and she still insisted she was a real doctor when I clearly meant an MD. When introducing yourself to patients you should be clear that you are not a medical doctor and that you are being called doctor because of your academic accomplishments not because you completed a residency and other requirements to be a doctor.  

tyson April 5, 2017 6:20 PM
Las Cruces NM

OK... It's frightening that the people arguing about this are responsible for people's lives.

Let me explain how this works: Dr is a title awarded to anyone with a doctorate level degree.  It doesn't matter what it's in.  Someone with a PhD in Physics uses the title of "Dr."  It's the same with people that have these degrees in English, music, Chemistry, Accounting, etc.

When you're put in a healthcare setting, yeah, there's a lot of people who go by "Dr."  So how do you not get confused?  Simple, YOUR JOB TITLE!  Any physician is going to have MD after their name.  Someone with a DNP is going to have DNP after their name.  It's simple.   When the ortopedic surgeon walks into a patients room, does he just say "Hi, I'm Jim" and then start talking about how he's going to do surgery, or does he also say that he's an Orthopedic Surgeon?

If your physicians and DNPs aren't intruducing themselves as a physician or a nurse practitioner, then EVERYONE is responsible for confusion.  "Dr." is a title, but those letters that come after your name, that's what you do.  Someone with an MD isn't called a doctor, they're called a physician.  "Dr." is just how you formally address someone with a doctorate level degree.

Basically, assuming that by the time you get a DNP, or any other Nursing Doctorate, you have life experience and know how to conduct yourself professionally, if you were the OP, you'd introduce yourself as "Dr. Keischa Cash, Nurse Practitioner."

Don't listen to what the MDs in here are saying.  Using Dr in front of your name is the same exact thing as using Mr.  or Ms.  Just, Dr. is based on a level of education in a field.  If you get a DNP, you go by Dr.  That's just how it works.

T December 2, 2016 1:29 AM

My take on this subject is a vastly different one based on my experience(s)

I'll start off by saying that in medicine it is ALWAYS about ego and NEVER truly about the patient. While I respect the different views of my fellow professionals, my experiences in multiple states and organizations have taught me that concern about patients and their understanding is not a true priority.

The best example I can give of this is how other allied health professionals are addressed. I have heard for years that patients get "confused" when a doctoral-prepared NP addresses themselves as "doctor".

Here's my challenge:

Many of us work with dentists, podiatrists, and PhD Psychologists. None of them are physicians, but every one of them are called "doctor". So what's the difference? Dentists and podiatrists perform procedures and write medications. So do DNPs. DNP/CRNAs operate in the same manner as anesthesiologists in many states. How is a PhD psychologist more of a "doctor" than a DNP/CRNAs when they can't write Rx?

Other professions have the same issues. Optometrists rarely have issues with their title, but they often have classes with ophthalmologists for scope of practice. DPT physical therapists are often addressed based on the environment in which they serve. The same goes for Doctor's of Chiropractic. What about medical intern or resident? They aren't licensed yet and some haven't even taken boards...but they are still "doctor".

To me, as long as each professional clearly identify themselves and their profession, all should well. Unfortunately, a lot of this stems from either *some* physicians flexing their muscles or lack of knowledge by the public (which includes members of the medical community). Not all communities feel this way. There are a few hospital systems that fully recognize DNPs as "doctors"; particularly in states where NPs have full autonomy. However, I've seen hospital bios that list DNP's as "Doctor of Nursing Practice" and address the individual as "doctor".

In my career, I have personally been on both sides of this. Before embarking upon my DNP journey, I was first a Doctor of Chiropractic and college professor. In the classroom, I was always "Dr. Reed", like anyone else with a doctorate. In the clinical setting, it varied. In my own practice, I was always referred to as "doctor". When I performed integrated medicine, it depended on the facility. I only asked that if they did not refer to me as "Dr. Reed", to simply call me by my first name. Some facilities called me Dr. Reed, some Jamie, some both. I always inform patients of what I am. But it can be frustrating at times. Again, dentist are not physicians. Optometrists, therapists, and podiatrists are not physicians. Thus, why the divide? In essence, if one non-physician can't be called "doctor", why should anyone? Seriously. Does the average American know that a podiatrist is not a physician? What about optometrist? To me, if you earned the title, you should be addressed as such. Just make sure that you operate within the bounds of your scope of practice.

Respect to all of you.

Dr. Reed

Jamie Reed November 10, 2016 12:26 AM

The counterargument of saying that using the title "Dr." will confuse patients is absurd. The only reason patients would get confused by that is due to the stigma that "Doctors" are the only medical professionals capable of helping patients with serious illnesses.

It is a fact that most physicians are more knowledgable in certain areas of patient care. They have studied the processes of the human body at a more advanced level than most nurses. However nurses are beginning to study the human body at these levels as well and some are just as knowledgable if not more knowledgable than some physicians.

Patient care is most effective when there is a team of health care providers that all have different roles. Once people stop giving doctors all the credit for patient care and the entire team of "Health Care Providers" is recognized then this entire argument will be irrelevant. Medical professionals should be able to show their degrees in their titles regardless of their role in the health care providing team.

Both doctors and nurses need to put their egos aside and focus on patient care and maybe then we can educate the public enough for them to understand who is actually responsible for their medical care.

C, Nursing Student October 17, 2016 2:40 AM

I feel that we are all missing a vital point and ignoring the most important audience to this argument: the patient. Past the "I deserves" or the harsh rebuttles of "no you don'ts" this boils down to patient perspective, understanding and safety. DNPs are a relatively new concept to mainstream health consumers and introducing one's self as "doctor" as a DNP may inadvertently confuse and mislead the patient under false pretenses. To protect the patient care ethic of autonomy, being very clear as to your role and purpose as a provider (i.e. title and what that means) is important to allow the patient to make informed decisions about their care and choice of provider. We must set aside our pride and self interests and uphold beneficence by acting in the best interest of the patient and not ourselves.

As a side note, both MDs and DNPs work really hard to achieve their dream, are equally important to healthcare delivery, and should not be dividing themselves by comparing and measuring the value of their roles and worth against each other. We are suppose to be working as a team with patient-focused and collaborative care as our common ground,  not working against one another for self praise and justification.  

Heather, RN, DNP student October 1, 2016 3:19 AM
Seattle WA

DNPs do want to be called Doctor because they want impersonate a physician, but more so because of their academic achievements.  I have been treated by a DNP and I know he is not a medical doctor because of his credentials on his name badge when he entered the room.  I call him doctor because of the excellent level of care I received and because he has earned that title through schooling.This very simple. I don't think anyone is trying to step on the pyshcians ego but DNPs earned their title also just for a different reason. Put some respect on the DNP!

Trinicia September 24, 2016 12:43 PM

I believe nurses should never represent themselves as physicians, however anyone who earned a doctorate should be allowed to call themselves doctor. People address the dentist and vet as "doctor" when they aren't physicians, yet no one is up in arms about that. Physicians do not own the title and definition of doctor.

Michael Salinas, BSN, RN September 14, 2016 6:39 PM

I support DNPs being addressed as Dr. and I DEMAND that every single one of you minions call me Dr. Phil!!! I earned it and you will respect my credentials!! Thank you.%0d%0a%0d%0aSincerely, %0d%0aDr. Phil%0d%0a%0d%0aDisclaimer: I am not a licensed Psychologist but I play one on TV...or at least I used to.

Dr. Phil August 18, 2016 12:42 PM
On TV baby! CA


I enjoy reading this post because I see that there are many confusions about the title. As a Nurse practitioner and with a DNP degree with 4 years of practice ago , I can't say that it is very frustrated not to get the title of "doctor or physician". DNPs has worked hard to get their title. However, I would like to say to all my Nurse practitioners and DNPs that YES their are differences in knowledge whether if you go to medical school or nursing school. After 4 years of practicing as FNP with my DNP, I went back to medical school in California to get my childhood dream as MD. Medical school is not a joke ; The exams and Board exams such as USMLE step 1,2, 3 are not a joke. They are much more harder than a doctor of nursing practice degree. DNP still as to go to nursing board to renew license as NP and etc. Do you guys go to American medical Associations or Medical or physicians Board? NO.To be a DNP, you have to get first a NP license, right? Does it allow you to work in all states without collaboration with a physician or doctor no? Can you prescribe all types of drugs? NO. I think that we should all accept that Physicians are only those who went to med school or D.O. AS a person who went to all this, it is better to refer as Doctor of Nursing Practice, not just as Doctor or physician. PhD in nursing is even harder than DNP, please face the truth and don't be mad my DNPs

Jennifer, FNP-DNP, MD August 13, 2016 11:18 AM

I feel that this sends a false impression to the patient.  I go to the Dr. office wanting to see a DO or MD not a APRN. If they ask if I would like to see the APRN for that visit then that is fine. When the APRN tells me to address them as Dr. so and so then that bothers me a lot. You went to school for APRN be proud of that,  if you wish to be addressed as Dr. get the MD or DO behind the name then and only then will I call you Dr.

Jane Dare August 1, 2016 11:54 AM

I strongly support you Dr. Cash. I am also encountering similar resistance and self perceived disrespect from fellow providers with the title of MD who do not share my high level of patient satisfaction scores and in fact would rather insist we be on first name basis even during curbside consultations than address me as Dr. Noon. As a board certified Gerontologist I receive daily phone calls asking for advice or tx ideations. What is slowly occurring is that my practice is garnering the respect in which several providers are now addressing me as Dr. Noon. We are the new vanguard and bring much to medicine. Hang in there Dr. Cash

Trudy Noon, Adult Medicine - DNP, APP July 20, 2016 7:29 PM
Medford OR

If anyone earns a Doctorate degree they deserve to be called Dr. I had a several Dr___ professors in college. I never assumed they were medical doctors. Even in a medical setting I do not assume every Dr is a Medical Doctor. The D.O. title is a perfect example. I can remember a time when patients didn't consider the D.O. "a real doctor" because they are not Medical Doctors. Yes, I realize I am showing my age.

I am constantly amused by some Medical Doctors and other people as well, that think Medical Doctors own the Dr. title.

And lastly, a DNP introducing themselves as Dr. Blahblah is not misleading anyone, unless they say, "Hello, I am Dr. Blahblah, your medical doctor." If the DNPs cannot refer to themselves as Drs neither should Medical Doctors. Everyone should have to refer to themselves by their name and full title. (just to be fair)

Jamie Kennedy, LPN April 22, 2016 3:01 PM
Somerset KY

Sorry, I'm an APRN student and would like to make it clear that in the medical setting, the title of "Dr" in the eyes of the patients, means physician.  The healthcare environment is confusing, so why do we want to further confuse it?

To be quite frank, DPTs and PharmDs do not introduce themselves as "Dr." even though they earned the title as well.  Perhaps the psychology is that DPTs and PharmDs do not feel it necessary to use the title and be addressed as such.  It would seem as if nurses have an inferiority complex (which is unfortunate), thus feel the need to compensate?  It does seem quite Freudian.

Let go of the ego and address what's best for the patient.

Scott April 17, 2016 4:56 PM

I am working on my doctorate currently and yes, I have worked hard.  I work full time and do my school work 5-6 hours each night and write papers on the weekend.  I joke with my husband that I am having address labels printed with Dr. and Mr. So and So to celebrate when I am done---after all, I earned it.  The only problem with that is, in our culture, the word "Doctor" invokes a long white coat and indicates that he is a physician.  I am an OT, so I will not be using Dr. as my title of address because I in no way will add to the growing confusion for patients to decipher who is who in the medical world.  I will still sign my credentials as OTD.  We know who we are and we know our value, I think that using the title only serves one purpose, to mislead. Ditch the insecurities and move on to an arguement of value.  

D, OT April 8, 2016 1:29 AM
Clarksville TN

Lawyers receive a Juris Doctor degree.  I don't believe they introduce themselves as Dr.  I also wonder if you have the same liability under malpractice insurance as a physician.  There is more to be a doctor than the title.

A March 25, 2016 8:00 PM
New York NY

Let's be real: the title doctor is not strictly limited to a physician. If the patients are stupid enough to automatically think that anybody who has a doctorate is automatically a physician, then that's their problem. No one is saying that DNPs should misrepresent themselves as physicians. Patients should be educated enough to know the difference between an MD and a (D)NP.

Yeah, med school is difficult, but so freaking what? I signed up for this! I knew it would be difficult and have no qualms with it. While a DNP or NP master's program may not be as intense as the first two years of med school, it still takes time and a heck of a lot of effort to earn that degree. I have no problem with DNPs using the title of "Dr.", just as I wouldn't have a problem calling a PA with a PhD "Dr." (I do know a couple - one that I really have a lot of respect for has his PhD in neuroscience).

My main point is that we all work as part of a care team. Our roles are not defined by academic titles such as "Dr.", but rather by our academic training. Like I said, it should be the patient's responsibility to recognize the difference between the letters MD and DNP. I'm not going to med school for the title of doctor. If I wanted to write "Dr." in front of my name, I would just go get a PhD in something I found interesting; way less time consuming. I'm in med school because I feel a calling to help others through medical practice, and through that I will earn the right to write MD after my name. Until DNPs start doing that, I have no problem addressing them as "Dr." I am not an idiot; I know who does what at my hospital and I don't confuse roles because of some stupid title. Get over yourselves, people.

Thomas, med student March 23, 2016 6:25 PM
Boston MA

A few months ago, I made an appointment to see a DOCTOR for the first time. At the visit, a female health care provider introduced herself to me as Dr. __. The care was poor. She never followed up on my health issues, including tests. When I called about those issues, I kept getting the run-around. It wasn't until I received a survey by phone that I learned the "Dr." was, in fact, a Nurse Practitioner. I felt upset, and maybe it explains why there was such poor care. A "doctor" in any other field may be called doctor, but never in the medical field. Don't start out with a lie. I don't want a Dr. of Art diagnosing my health.

Missy Lee March 19, 2016 4:56 PM

Hi I'm Dr. Lim, I am a nurse practitioner who will be taking care of you today.  I have dual degrees, dual masters, multilingual, years in critical care nursing and a doctorate in nursing practice.  It's just a title and I earn it.  At the end of the day, it's all about quality centered care for patients to get better.

Hengky Lim, Emergency - DNP, NP-C February 11, 2016 12:01 PM
Palmdale CA

If you wanted to be referred to as a Doctor you should have gone to Medical School, you are setting a dangerous precedent because you want to be called a Doctor. You are a NURSE, stick to NURSING.

Zen Malek January 23, 2016 11:04 PM
Sugar Land TX

Is the DNP a doctorate level degree?  Absolutely. Is it appropriate to obscure/confuse the issue about who is a physician/who is not? Absolutely not.   In residency, I always respected the inpatient team pharmacist.  On rounds, he always introduced himself as Jay XX, the team pharmacist.  This man also worked hard for his title but understood that in the in patient setting that calling himself Dr. XX could be a source of confusion for patients.  I am all for DNPs calling themselves Dr in the clinical setting if they can pass USMLE boards consistent with having medical knowledge on par with a clinical "Dr", a physician.  Until then they should not utilize this title.

Megan, Family Medicine - Physician January 10, 2016 9:08 AM
Converse TX

I am an NP and is planning to earn DNP degree in the future. Honestly,  it will be confusion for the patient if you refer yourself as Dr. ???. You can instead state that "I am Dr. ???, a doctor of nurse practice. Down the line, I feel it will be fine to refer yourself as a Dr. ??? since the patient already know that your are not a doctor. And honestly, most of the patient do not care if the provider is medical doctor as long as he/she does know what he/she is doing.

Jay, FNP December 19, 2015 3:44 AM

I am amazed at how dumb some of you so called professionals sound.  Someone with an NP license is not the same as a DNP!   One is a masters level degree,  and the other has a doctorate.  A person with a DPAS degree has gone beyond the typical education of a normal PA.  Doctoral degrees are professional titles conferred to those who did the extra work to earn them.  Therfore those titles should be used accordingly when addressing them.  PREREQUISITES are the same at every undergraduate institution.  If you're on a pre medicine or pre nursing tract, your freshman and sophomore years will be spent taking biology 1 & 2, chemistry 1 & 2, Physics 1 & 2, anatomy &

physiology 1 & 2, biochemistry, algebra, calculus,  statistics and microbiology.  Depending on if you're going to medical school PA school or nursing school the classes don't get different until your junior year.... But the prerequisites are all the same. In nursing the last two years allow you to earn the BSN degree and after the passing of a test, a RN designation.... in regular undergraduate studies you either leave with a biology chemistry or psychology degree with the pre med designation your minor. The next step for nursing is a Masters program.... The next step in the hard sciences, is either PA school or medical school.... PA school is a Masters program as well. Therefore in 6 years you can be a PA or a NP. Neither of those titles deserve the term doctor placed before them. If you go to medical school.... There is 4 years of studying which when combined with your undergraduate degrees amount to eight years. When you graduate medical school you are a doctor in title. After medical school there is what they call on the job training by way of residency fellowships and internships..... The work at that point becomes practical and not learned through books and tests......

Going back to nursing and PA..... If you study for 2 to 3 years past your masters degree and you are awarded a DNP or DPAS degree..... just like a person finishing med school, those eight years of study result in the title DR. Whether you are a DPT, DOT, EDD, PhD, AUD, PharmD, DrPH, Doctor of Chiropractic Methods, DDS, Optometrist, ND, DPAS or DNP...

I went to Xavier University then Loyola University  then The Johns Hopkins University.....and When I get my DNP.    I WILL BE REFERRED TO AS DR LEWIS!  Because I earned it with 4 years of  advanced professional medical training.... Just like your four additional years of medical school.  A person with a DNP or DPAS is probably more advanced at that point then a recent medical school graduate. The difference is we can go immediately to work while they have to specialize in whatever fields they want to practice in.... and we are already specialists in care provision.  Who cares what doctors think at that point they should concern themselves with treating the disease or injury.....we will treat the patients..... and there won't be any confusion and how we choose to introduce ourselves as longest we explain what we are there to do.

Dedrick Lewis December 12, 2015 4:30 PM
memphis TN

DNP still have to answer to the board of nurses. So let just face the facts. Nurses are not doctors. We will never be doctors unless you go to medical school. I feel it causes confusion all for what just to be called Dr.  If I was a patient and someone states to me I am Dr. Who and to find oit this person is a nurse. I would be highly pissed. I am a Registered Nurse.  If you want to be called Doctor in a clinical setting please go to medical school. Sorry but that is just the hardcore truth. You are not a doctor.

T Holmes, Rn December 11, 2015 8:25 PM
Memphis TN

My wife is an English teacher and has a coworker who earned her PhD in English and now puts "Dr." on all of her communication and insists on being addressed by it.

Everyone, including the students, think this is pretentious and absurd.  Technically correct, but absurd.  So yes, you can demand that you be called Dr. and you would be technically correct in doing so, but people will still scoff at you behind your back because the established norm is that only physicians are called Drs.

I don't think you will have much luck changing that norm though as  most patients don't care about your desire to be called doctor as much as they do about just being able to easily identify who is a physician and who isn't.

Mack Taylor November 20, 2015 12:23 PM

As a patient, I would not trust someone who represented themselves as a medical doctor if I found out they were in fact something other than a physician.

Dylan November 4, 2015 5:48 PM

Josh;  you wrote what is below.... To any nurse you sound like a moron.   A nurse with 5-10 years of experience knows 10 times that of a resident "doctor" who can sign MD after his name.  In order to get your DNP, you must have experience.  The experience along with the education is much more valuable then a "doctor" who just graduated.  I hate to burst your bubble; but this is the reality.   How "hard" medical school is compared to getting your RN, APN & DNP is relative.  I think it's much harder and much more time consuming to become a DNP.  I also think they are much better prepared when they graduate.   My primary care provider is a nurse practitioner!!!!!  I wouldn't trust an MD;  they are usually after medicine for the money!!!!

"I worked with a NP who then went on to get a doctorate,  it was 2 years of statistics, epidemiology, sociology, and a simple research project, most done online.  Having done a research fellowship for a year after my residency, I took many of the same courses.  These courses were interesting, but honestly, they were a joke compared to the difficulty, speed, and amount of material I had to master in medical school.  Also, all the premed courses you take prior to medical school are far easier than the first 2 years of medical school.  Non physicians have absolutely no idea how hard the first 2 years of medical school are.  I went to a very good undergraduate school, and the premed courses were not even remotely as difficult as medical school.  A good comparison would be this, think about the amount of material you have to learn in the premed Biology course over 3 months, well you have to learn the equivalent amount of material (at a much more complex level) and be tested on it in about 2 weeks in med school.  This is not an exaggeration.  Then there is the final 2 clinical years of medical school, 3 years of residency and then 2 years of fellowship when you really learn to be a doctor.   Then don't forget the ABIM certification and recertification exams, which I very much doubt few DNP's could pass.  The training of a DNP is not remotely the same as a doctor.  Trust me, patients are confused by the use of doctor by non MD's and this should not be allowed."

DoctorNurse Doctor Nurse October 16, 2015 3:03 PM

I would just like to say that even lower level LPN or  RN courses are very difficult; as they are not sociolical studies and such studies as you incinuated, they are science based classes. These classes prepare nurses or future nurses to assess patients for doctors in a way that doctors have never been trained. You my friend wouldn't be able to do your job without even a bottom level LPN, let alone stand a chance to pass any of their board exams. Nurses give doctors advise, tip them off to issues and save your ass and the patients everyday. Without nurses, doctors wouldn't stand a chance to keeping the license they so hardly earned. Respect the nurse, and if he or she puts in the effort to earn doctorate, acknowledge it, respect it, and appreciate it.

Jason Collins, Nursing - Np August 25, 2015 9:40 PM
Buffalo NY

I worked with a NP who then went on to get a doctorate,  it was 2 years of statistics, epidemiology, sociology, and a simple research project, most done online.  Having done a research fellowship for a year after my residency, I took many of the same courses.  These courses were interesting, but honestly, they were a joke compared to the difficulty, speed, and amount of material I had to master in medical school.  Also, all the premed courses you take prior to medical school are far easier than the first 2 years of medical school.  Non physicians have absolutely no idea how hard the first 2 years of medical school are.  I went to a very good undergraduate school, and the premed courses were not even remotely as difficult as medical school.  A good comparison would be this, think about the amount of material you have to learn in the premed Biology course over 3 months, well you have to learn the equivalent amount of material (at a much more complex level) and be tested on it in about 2 weeks in med school.  This is not an exaggeration.  Then there is the final 2 clinical years of medical school, 3 years of residency and then 2 years of fellowship when you really learn to be a doctor.   Then don't forget the ABIM certification and recertification exams, which I very much doubt few DNP's could pass.  The training of a DNP is not remotely the same as a doctor.  Trust me, patients are confused by the use of doctor by non MD's and this should not be allowed.

Josh, MD July 25, 2015 9:24 PM
Long Island NY

I worked with a fellow RRT who was admonished for introducing him self as Doctor so and so and signing charts using Dr. before his first name as he had a Ph.D in a non-medical field.  I believe it's misleading for anyone besides physicians to introduce themselves as "Doctor" to patients in a clinical setting; academia is another story.  The highest level and most arduous journey in the medical world is that of a physician.  It's one thing to wear a long white coat but another to try and misrepresent oneself as a physician.  The degree itself and opportunity to treat patients should be reward in and of itself.  DNPs would likely garner more respect by introducing themselves as Providers or NPs and then humbly accepting praise from patients who are impressed with their care.  

Parker Chase, RRT July 17, 2015 11:47 AM
Philadelphia PA

I am so sad to read some of these comments. Have we ever wondered what patients prefer or what do they really want at the end of their clinic visits? Excellent care and compassion. Most of them could careless if they are talking to an NP, MD or PA. They just want to get better. Why don't we just give each other the respect and re-focus on what is important … OUR PATIENTS. We are all "providers", so lets just all provide the best care anyone can ever ask for. It's that simple.

Irma, FNP July 8, 2015 12:38 AM

I just wanted to add to this since I'm considering med school or the NP DNP path. I work in a large trauma 1 medical center with attached research labs who employees all specialist mentioned in these comments. I will say that in my institution out of ranking in regards of independence, PA is the lowest followed by the master level NP. MD, DO, and DNP is regarded at the same level and is each allowed to introduce themselves as "Doctor" followed by their education (Example: "I’m Doctor Smith a nurse practitioner" or "I’m Doctor Doe a physician"). NPs, DNPs, and MD/DO are allowed to practice independently, however PAs are not. I consider all of them very important and vital for a good patient outcome. In my own experience I feel that physicians feel threatened by DNPs. Luckily in my current institution they work in balance with each other. A DNP is even head of a specialty in our facility. I do feel that regardless of your education if you have obtained a doctorate level of education you should be addressed as "doctor" be it in medicine or not, but that is my opinion. Gone are the days when nurses stood in the shadows of physicians. Nurses practice differently than physicians and as such each education model is different. How is it feasible to consider one education lesser than the other when each is a different model of education and training? I have also read that to be a nurse it is not as hard as pre-med. No offense but nurses can apply to med school, as well as non-health care degrees. What does that tell you? I had to take from general chemistry to biochemistry, biology for more than a year, biological nutrition, anatomy of course and yes even physics. Actually many nursing schools in my region offering a BSN also offer a duel degree program for BSB. I will admit that not all nursing schools have the same requirements. My fellow nurses who argue that DNPs should not care how they call themselves but focus on patient care. The original post I feel has more focus about having respect shown to them opposed to opposition. I have noticed on my unit when there is a new hospitalist they intensively drill and question the critical care covering DNP NP. This is inappropriate in the sense of delaying care so they can just flex their muscles. After a few months in a positive encouragement approach by even the medical staff this quickly changes. On admission we give patients the admission packets (like most places) that includes what a PA, NP, NP DNP and MD/DO are, their education and what they will do for their care. Thanks to this patients only question what the difference between a MD and DO is since they both call themselves a physician. Health care has changed is the bottom line thanks to decades of improved practice.

Dave Critical Care, RN BSN June 5, 2015 3:26 AM

Just wanted to add my tidbit. I am currently in nursing school, and I am aspiring to become a DNP in the future. I will comment on the assumptions being made. Many have posted about confusing patients with the "DR"titles. That assumption could be contradictory. I have been around patients and know many who prefer practitioners over physicians as their primary care providers. When I asked why, it was usually the communication aspect that they felt was consistently lacking with physicians. At the same time I have known many who love their physician, and would never see anybody else. It all comes down to patient satisfaction. If the patients needs and expectations are met and they are satisfied with their care does which type of doctor you are matter? Medical school is medical school. DNP school is DNP school. They are not comparable. The philosophy in teaching is different. The finished product of both however produces a well polished healthcare provider.  I challenge any physician to prove how they are more qualified to care for a patient than a DNP and vice versa. In the end, the reason any person becomes a doctor is to care for other human beings. No matter what anybody thinks about the title debate, you are in a position to change the lives of every individual you encounter and that is something nobody can undermine or change.

Nothing is worse than a doctor of any origin who went through all of the years just for the coat. The level of care is so poor that I would rather have housekeeping care for me. The most important thing is to not get so caught up in whose muscles are bigger, and to focus on being better "Dr.'s" period.

Derek MacDonald May 9, 2015 12:52 AM

OH my..I am experiencing similar situation in my practice. I was basically told not even to place DNP behind my name. This is absolutely illegal. I was also told not introduce my self as Dr of Nurse Practice. MD exact word "we do not allow those things around here". I have been feverishly battling this resistance from MD and administration. This is just sad...

Wake Forest NC

I highly respect those of you who decided to move forward with your education to its pinnacle.  I would love it if all of my employees decided to further their only helps patients in the long run.  No one should feel like they suffer or should feel that their achievement is lessened somehow by the inability to call themselves their rightful academic title.

I disagree with how the physicians in your group handled the situation.  Many people don't understand the role of "mid-level providers."  I am sorry that you find the phrase demeaning, as it certainly is not meant for that purpose.  It is, however, true...DNPs are excellent providers, as I employ my fair share, but their education is different enough to fall just short of physicians in knowledge, expertise, and diagnostic/therapeutic skills.  Therefore, in the hierarchy of the medical field, they are indeed higher level providers than the 3-4 levels (MAs, RNs, NP/PA/CRNAs, and MD/DOs) but remain in the mid-level area in the hierarchy.

I appreciate the fact that DNPs have excellent exposure and a lot of time is spent dedicated to patient care since day one.  That is what nursing is care and implementation of medical care plans of a limited number of patients.  Physicians are taught to diagnose and create treatment plans for many patients.  The education is inherently different for a reason; both necessary for the medical model to function.  Even with the extra time spent on masters and doctorate-level education, therein lies the difference.  After 4 years of medical school, referred to as relatively the same amount of time for DNPs in a few posts, medical students graduate and are entitled to be called "Dr." in a clinical setting.  However, I didn't consider myself worthy of the full title until I finished 4 years of residency and another year of fellowship.  I was called "Intern" for one year (often in a derogatory manner by the floor nurses...that's another subject altogether) all with 80+ hour work weeks, "resident" for another three years, and "fellow" for another year.  I introduced myself as such during that entire time, and when fellowship graduation came I was very excited to be able to have earned the title of "Dr." I understand you wanting to have others recognize your accomplishment, but I have to disagree that the degree and duration of education it takes to become a DNP compares to my own level.  I am not sure whether there are DNP degrees for different specialties (such as ICU, FP, IM, Surgery, Dermatology, etc) but the specialty training physicians receive is one higher level of education that is highly specific and highly specialized that to my knowledge is unparalleled in any other medical profession.

I agree that the word "Dr." is used to describe the highest level of education in any given field.  If one is so intent on being called "Dr." in the clinical setting in the medical profession, if it means that much to them, perhaps the education one should seek should indeed be the highest level attainable...that of a physician.  I am not saying this to be on a "high horse" nor out of spite, merely pointing out the difference in a realistic way.  Whether or not it's right, that is the logical explanation for the difference in titles, but more importantly, what the layperson wants to know is this: when they enter the clinical atmosphere, if someone introduces themselves as "Dr. ______," they at that point fully expect that individual to be a physician.  It may not be ideal to you, and although you SHOULD INDEED BE PROUD of your accomplishments and should receive recognition, the fact remains that it is misleading in the current atmosphere to refer to oneself as "Dr." in the clinical setting if you are not a physician.

DP, Anesthesiology-Pain Medicine - MD April 4, 2015 12:18 AM

I am quite appalled by the comments below. First, PAs do not earn a doctoral degree and therefore, why discuss them. DNPs however have earned that privilege. The course work required for BSN in nursing is all of the same high level science, math, and pharmacology classes as those pursuing a spot in med school. A DNP requires, at the university at buffalo, an 80 credit doctoral degree, including 1000 hours of clinical rotations. To name the last three, one in dental, one at the VA, one at a primary care practice, and this summer, a rotation at a nearby hospital in the icu. The classes are not all online, and who ever thinks that needs to look into it before they comment. I believe that MDs must feel threatened in some way to respond with anger and ignorance about what it takes to become a DNP. In NY, we can open private practices without a formal agreement with an MD. That is a testament to the training a DNP has. A pa can never do that. They do not even have the ability to write a prescription unless it is with the MD. So, clearly a DNP has earned the title of doctor. As much as my sister, a psyd has earned hers. I agree that in order to avoid confusion an introduction should be as follows. " hello, I'm Dr. Smith, the nurse practitioner. " so, let's all get focused on the right thing, caring for the patients.

cynthia April 2, 2015 2:41 AM

I am finishing my Masters Degree and will go on to get my DNP.  How would I introduce myself? "Hi, I'm Libby, I'll be your DNP today".  There will be more time spent explaining my title than doing care.  It IS a doctoral degree.  I would be entitled to the term Dr.  And, Sean, I did take Organic Chem, Biochem, Physics, Micro, A&P, Advanced A&P, and every other science you could think of along with English courses out the hiney, Religion courses, History, Calculus, Clinicals that rival any residency, etc etc.  So, not every APRN is your run-of-the-mill nurse trying to be a doctor.  NPs have a different diagnostic route than MDs.  Still gets to the same goal, which is patient care.  Some say the NPs route is better, some will always prefer a physician.  I understand that becoming a doctor of medicine is more difficult with longer hours and a few more years of school.  But, I don't feel a few extra years of exhaustion and hazing makes me a better provider.  I will ROCK as an NP, DNP, whatever.  I echo the sentiment that there are plenty of people for everyone to treat.  Entitlement and jealousy or stomping feet and clearing up titles isn't necessary.

Libby February 17, 2015 10:29 PM
Jasper IN

Lol it's quite comical how these nurses claim that their prereqs are even comparable to that of a physician's.  One year of watered down introductory chemistry for a BSN, Anatomy, Phys, and Micro are not comparable to the requirements a physician must pass BEFORE starting his or her dificult course work.  Sorry nurses, but General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry are a hell of a lot harder than your little intro courses :x

Notanurselol , John Hopkins February 14, 2015 4:38 AM

If Ms Cash is in an academic setting, such as a nursing school, yes she can be called Dr Cash. However,.in a clinical practice, this gives the patients the wrong

Impression of her educational background. If you want to be called doctor, please go to medical school. In the mean time be proud to be an nurse Practitioner. I think we do a fine job and serve our patients well.

mary bishop, CRNP January 15, 2015 9:38 PM
Easton MD

If Ms Cash is in an academic setting, such as a nursing school, yes she can be called Dr Cash. However,.in a clinical practice, this gives the patients the wrong

Impression of her educational background. If you want to be called doctor, please go to medical school. In the mean time be proud to be an nurse Practitioner. I think we do a fine job and serve our patients well.

mary bishop, CRNP January 15, 2015 9:38 PM
Easton MD

An MD is a doctor. A DO is a doctor. A nurse, of any kind, is not.

As a patient, I would be angered by the misrepresentation involved in a nurse (with whatever letters after their name) introducing themselves as "Doctor". It's wrong, it's silly, and it's deliberately confusing to the patient and their advocates.

It's also insulting to the physicians who have actually earned the title.

By all means, get further education and be proud of your work. But don't pretend to be something you're not.

j November 6, 2014 9:23 PM

Oh, and I also wanted to point out that not all DNPs get their degrees online. The DNP curriculum From the school I graduated from  is very much hands- on and very minimal online work. now the DNP programs also involve coursework  in healthcare administration and policy etc as well, which may be partially online, but the clinical components are similar to or the same as any medical school rotation. Sheesh people make it seem like you got it from a cereal box. Sounds like some of you need to educate yourselves more about the education and preparation of your peers instead of acting so condescending.

Katie October 14, 2014 12:21 AM

I would like to point out that yes, the medical school curriculum is much more intense education than nursing school at the bachelors level. That being said, nurses who go on to be NPs have at least an additional 2 years on top of their nursing background. Dnps have 4 years after their nursing education.. The exact number of years of medical school. They (NPs)  also complete the same advanced patho and pharm and health assessment as medical students. They also have clinical rotations, as med students do. The overall learning experience is not identical, but closer than you think. One of the major differences between NP school and MD school are how soon the students initiate patient care. For Nps it's Immediate. NPs hands down will trump Most MDs with bedside care experience (because they were and always will be nurses) which by the way is why many patients value us as primary care providers. I'm by no means taking a shot at med students or MDs- I love the ones I collab with. But my care is not inferior to that of an MD. And if I obtain my DNP, you betcha I'm going to use my title Doctor. I respectfully call all of my colleagues doctor who have earned a doctoral degree- including pharmacists, physical therapists, dentists, psychologists... You name it. That's the way it should be. This argument that it's  "confusing" is just a bunch of Balogna. We all utilize each others' expertise- the interdisciplinary community needs to start reflecting THAT.

Katie , Family medicine - RN, FNP-BC October 13, 2014 11:58 PM

As one who has a basic nursing degree and then went to medical school, I can assure you that the training is MUCH different.  As a nurse, one is trained to provide care and help the patient, as a physician one is trained to understand the pathophysiology of disease and plan for its treatment.  This is not something taught in an on-line DNP program, nor in the classroom setting; it is learned at the bedside of the patient.  In the appropriate setting, referring to yourself as Dr. X, a nurse practitioner (or PA) shouldn't be objectionable, but to say Dr. X, without the requisite modifier, makes an assumption, in the mind of a patient, that you are a physician.  You are not, anymore than a PhD, DPT, dentist, chiropractor, podiatrist, lawyer, etc. would be considered a physician.  Sorry, it just isn't the case.  This doesn't minimize the hard work you put into achieving your doctorate, only seeks to comment on how it is seen.

Pat McGroin September 28, 2014 1:31 PM

Thanks for all your great comments. Just wanted to spark a conversation.  I spent ten minutes writing a response then deleted it. Doctor, Nurse, I don't care call me what you want. No matter how you feel about it...I am both. Just don't insult my intellect and hard work.

Dr. Ca$h

Keischa Cash August 20, 2014 12:43 AM

I always enjoy it when someone believes passionately in something. I have  a PhD and I am a nurse. My degree is in Human Development and I have had an Integrative Health practice for over 20 years. I have been told NOT to call myself Dr. by psychologists, MD's and nurses. What I call myself does not matter it is what I do and I have found that my patients get exceedingly great results and for this I have had both good and not so good (jealous) attention from competing (in their eyes) practitioners. I say claim your name - and go out and do good work. There are SO MANY hurting people that we can all be guarunteed to be busy. Cynthia Howard RN, CNC, PhD

Cynthia Howard August 6, 2014 5:11 PM

I always enjoy it when someone believes passionately in something. I have  a PhD and I am a nurse. My degree is in Human Development and I have had an Integrative Health practice for over 20 years. I have been told NOT to call myself Dr. by psychologists, MD's and nurses. What I call myself does not matter it is what I do and I have found that my patients get exceedingly great results and for this I have had both good and not so good (jealous) attention from competing (in their eyes) practitioners. I say claim your name - and go out and do good work. There are SO MANY hurting people that we can all be guarunteed to be busy. Cynthia Howard RN, CNC, PhD

Cynthia Howard August 6, 2014 4:55 PM

It seems to me that the dispute is centered around a word or title. The problem is that the academic community awards this title to those the have completed a terminal degree in their discipline. Physicians have adopted this title and seem to believe that it only belongs to them. The title belongs with the degree. It is not specific to a certain discipline. Many disciplines maintain this title. However; re-teaching the whole country is the problem. I see both sides of this issue. If I spent 4 years of nursing school, then 2 years in Master's program, then 2 years in a doctoral degree, I would definately feel like I have earned the degree and should be addressed by the title that comes along with it. The hard part is changing peoples view of who they are seeing.

Wade, FNP August 5, 2014 10:02 AM
Hohenwald TN

Actually, I did have to take general, organic, and biochemistry as a pre-nursing requirement, Sean, PA-C. But what does undergrad nursing have to do with the DNP? Anyone who earns a doctorate in ANY field earns the right to use the title of "doctor". This includes pharmacists, physical therapists, professors, dentists, vets, etc. A DNP practicing alongside an MD needs only to clarify how the title was obtained so as to avoid title confusion for the patient.

Kerri, ANP-BC August 2, 2014 3:34 PM

How sad it is that some of us are so hung up on titles. l totally agree with Andrea from Mobile, AL. In the end it's not about the title, but about pt centered care, and what each profession in COLLABORATION bring to the field in order to give our pts the best care. We need to stop being so hung up on titles and start focusing on making our messed up healthcare system better so that EVERYONE can receive care.

Joy August 2, 2014 9:44 AM

I am sorry but pre-nursing is not as difficult as pre-med.  

I don't believe you need to take organic chem, bio-chem and physics to get into nursing school.

Sean, MPAS, RPA-C August 1, 2014 11:45 PM

Who cares how long the growing season is as long as the fruit is mature..... get over your title phobias physicians and worry about doing the best  job you can do and listening to your patients... the number one complaint I hear in the clinic every day is " My doctor doesn't listen and just wants to tell me what to do all the time". The end of physician-centered care is coming .... patient centered care is here, and all of you better worry about that not you precious titles. Other professions get it , people get it, .... grow up.

 Someone who has earned a doctorate can be called Dr. ( Dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, chiropractors nurses etc. etc. ) I agree the name tag should give more information so people know you are not a physician, and then I think it's just a respectful term people use when in a therapeutic the end we should just worry about good care , please? Insecurities on both sides need to pass away. Nurses don't want to be surgeons etc , but do want some damn respect from you guys some day. Geeeze.

Bob D August 1, 2014 6:35 PM

We have more things to worry about than who is called Doctors!  As a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, I am appalled about the person who said my pre-Nursing courses were a joke and can not be held to the same standard as a physician.  Obviously this person did not go to my college.  Pre-Nursing was a rigourous as Pre-Med. Nursing was as rigorous as Medicine.  Long hours studying, long night burning the candle with a big pot of coffee.  That being said...can we move on....and take care of our patients.  As time goes on, our positions become more challenging and there will be fewer providers.  Call and truce and realize what we all bring to the table.  Look at what unites us, not divides us.  It is not about the titles we wear....but about our patients and the care they receive.  Without might as well write you doctoral credentials in the sand!

Andrea Roberts, Pediatrics - CPNP August 1, 2014 10:49 AM
Mobile AL

<<I can't believe that a Nurse who received FNP and DPN title by online methods with little or no clinical residency,  now wants me to call him/her "Doctor".    Complete 4 years pre med,  4 years in the principles and practice of medicine and 3-5 years residency and I will call you Doctor.    A online course and a thesis on nursing practice doesn't prepare you in any way to practice medicine (under the guise of advanced nursing) independently. Just my opinion.>>

OK, Mr. Shelby, you are entitled to your opinion.  We are entitled to our opinion.

You are a physician assistant.  I have many friends who are PAs.  Most of them are fully cognizant of what we NPs bring to the table.  Most of them fully recognize that we are stellar providers...whether or not we have a doctoral degree.

Where do you come off spouting about PHYSICIAN degree requirements in your commentary about the DNP degree?  This is a degree ON TOP OF our Masters-prepared requirements...I might add, the equivalent of what most PA programs require.  

Get off your high horse, my friend.  Play nicely in the sandbox.

Kim Spering, Emmaus Internal Medicine Assoc August 1, 2014 12:06 AM
Macungie PA

Historically PhDs and MDs used the title doctor. PhDs discover new knowledge and contribute their original evidence to science. This is a difficult and challenging task. MDs and DNPs use the evidence PhDs have discovered. DNPs, DOTs, DPTs are clinical degrees and they use evidence in their practice. A PhD Nurse Scientist with multiple years of scientific investigation to produce original research and a DNP are not educated in the same way. I understand why physicians and scientists do not consider the clinical DNP, DPT or DOT in the same category.

Sheree Loftus, PhD

Sheree Loftus, Gerontology - Nurse Scientist, Beth Israel Neurology July 31, 2014 10:46 PM
New York NY

I have held a PhD in clinical endocrinology for over 20 yrs, obtained from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  My experience includes nearly 6 years in cancer research prior to becoming a PA.  Now, after 20 yrs in the profession I have recently been reported to our state board for using the title Dr., even though our marquee and my lab coat show PA-C.    I'm not sure who it was, physician or mid-level who made the complaint to the board.  I feel I hold as much right, if not more, to use the title than a DNP.  I am not saying they do not have the right, just that I have as much right as they do.  The controversy will continue no matter what and even with Missouri approving the title of Assistant Physician to those docs who can't find a match is raising some eyebrows.  I simply believe there are a lot of insecure physicians out there who need to reconsider our positions vs. theirs.

Max, , PA-C, PhD clinic July 31, 2014 10:18 PM
Henderson NV

I've been a PA for 30+ years; married to a physician; father to both a PA and NP. In a medical encounter the patient must be fully aware whether they are seeing a physician or a mid-level provider. I have no problem with an NP or PA (yes there is a Doctorate of Physician Assistant Studies degree) introducing themselves as "Dr. ...." As long as it is followed by "I am a nurse practitioner " or "I am a physician assistant" and it is plainly spelled out in full on their jacket.  Anything less is misleading and borders on malpractice.

Thomas Carrino, MPAS,PA-C July 31, 2014 9:57 PM
Greenville TN

I can't believe that a Nurse who received FNP and DPN title by online methods with little or no clinical residency,  now wants me to call him/her "Doctor".    Complete 4 years pre med,  4 years in the principles and practice of medicine and 3-5 years residency and I will call you Doctor.    A online course and a thesis on nursing practice doesn't prepare you in any way to practice medicine (under the guise of advanced nursing) independently. Just my opinion.

William Shelby, PA-C July 31, 2014 9:17 PM
Rotan TX

I am a practicing PA that works in a clinic with NPs and Physicians.

I also agree that allowing DNPs to be called and calling themselves "doctor" in a clinic setting is very confusing and should be avoided.  I am not saying they cannot be capable healthcare providers.  However, in a clinic setting doctors are and likely always will be thought to be physicians.  To allow patients to believe a DNP is a physician is misleading and frankly I believe disrespectful to physicians.  You can't tell me that as a DNP you would take the time or even think you will have the time to explain in detail the difference to patients.  Even if you did, many would still not understand.  In a clinical setting where patients are being seen and provided with medical care, a doctor is a physician.  Period.  I believe it should stay that way.  Physicians education a residency is very rigorous and beyond anything a NP has to do to achieve a DNP.  I don't kid myself to believe my training as a PA was as in depth or rigorous as a physician's and a PA's training is far more similar to a physician's than is a NP's training, doctorate or otherwise.  Let us not forget, the PA profession was created by a physician.  We (PAs) were not met to compete with physicians and many NPs I have met and spoken to over the years feel that they are in direct competition with physicians.

Sean, MPAS, RPA-C July 31, 2014 8:00 PM

Also a DNP is not a PhD.  They are two different degrees. Also the PAs do not have a doctorate degree established yet so unsure of why PAs are even mentioned here.

Heather Riddle, Peds - CPNP-DNP July 31, 2014 6:32 PM
Tampa FL

Congratulations DR. Cash!!! You deserve it!!  All your hard work and dedication in school and your career shows your love for the field.  Not only do Nurses practice nursing, they run circle around doctors in every aspect in the medical community.  DO, MD, PA each in their own category.  Why are some of the respondents grouping them together?  Each one has a different educational path as NPs have their own educational path and philosophy of medicine. The one thing in common is that all practice medicine. Each do it in their own way and it is up to the patient to decide which approach they feel comfortable.  Everyone keep doing what your doing and use your "DR" if you EARNED it.  I know I am proud to be a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Heather Riddle, Pediatrics - CPNP-DNP July 31, 2014 6:29 PM
Tampa FL

I think that anyone who earns the title "doctor" should be able to use the term but I do think that it should be clarified so as not to confuse patients.  The NP who earned the title of "doctor" should be able to be called Dr. but she/he should also explain to patients that "I am Dr. Cash, nurse practitioner".  This would eliminate the confusion but also allow NP Cash to use the title that she earned.  I do think our medical community is changing and NP's and PA's are earning more rights/priviledges so we all have to keep up with the times.

Sandy McCoy, Family Practice/Bariatrics - RN,MSN, FNP-BC, Northstar Surgery Center July 31, 2014 5:36 PM
Dallas TX

Ok Dr. Nurse. Do you believe that your education matches that of an MD or a DO, heck even a PA? Seriously even your watered down prerequisites for nursing school are a joke compared to the extremely difficult and applied studies for MD, DO, and PA schools (based on medical models). But you believe that you earned the right to be referred to as Dr., perhaps... just not in a clinical setting where the term Dr refers to an MD or a DO. This is "your" NEED to be recognized, and it trumps what MDs and DOs have truly earned. You are NOT the same as an MD or DO, you should not be referred to as such. Or maybe you should be referred to as Dr. Nurse and MDs and DOs should only be referred to as physicians, that way the separation would, and should, maintain. But eventually you would probably want to be referred to as physician nurse... or something.

J July 31, 2014 5:35 PM

In response to the posters here that argue it's too confusing for Dr. Cash to use her title. Are you often confused that your "Dr." Chiropractor or your "Dr." dentist or your "Dr." podiatrist are your family M.D.?... Keep using your earned title Dr. Cash, and keep educating.

K July 30, 2014 4:36 PM

Interesting how this is not a problem for academic PHDs. Many professors are commonly call "doctor" on a daily basis without even batting an eye. A doctorate earned is a doctor in that particular area of study and should be recognized as such. As DNPs, nurse practitioners are not trying to represent themselves as medical doctors, but rather as doctors or experts in the field of nursing care. The skill set to each distinctive profession has and never will be the same. Nursing is a specialty of care that is and always has been unique in and of its self, and one that most MDs know little if anything about. Obtaining a DNP degree is taking that nursing knowledge and expanding to a new level that only benefits the healthcare system and patients in the end, and there should be recognition of the achievement. I think the unspoken truth is the threat MDs feel by the newly expanded role, as it overlaps there knowledge base, yet they have done nothing to expand their nursing knowledge. (Could you ever see an MD providing bedside nursing care) If they could only see that we are not doing this to replace or confuse anyone, but rather to fill a gap in our healthcare system and provide more wholistic patient centered care. That frees up and allows MD to do what they do best, and DNPs do what they do best. The end result is a win for patients if they can learn to be more accepting and work together. Maybe  physicians should start introducing themselves as doctors of medical practice, just to clarify and also eliminate potential confusion for patients, and let them decide.

Michele, MSN FNP-BC July 25, 2014 2:15 PM
Green Bay WI

Lawyers have argued this for a long time.  Lawyers hold "doctorates" (Juris Doctor), and many in the profession believe that since they have attained that level of academia they should be referred to as "Dr." as well.  I think it's a silly argument.  I agree with the comment above that referring to an NP as doctor due to the advanced degree would cause unnecessary confusion.  MD is a doctor.  Period.

s nelson July 24, 2014 5:48 PM
Kill Devil Hills NC

The term "doctor" has many uses in society but, in the context of the healthcare setting, the vast majority of laypeople understand it to be synonymous with "physician." DNPs, like other holders of advanced degrees, have earned the title in an academic sense. But I think most would admit that it carries heavy implication, and a high potential for confusion, in the clinical realm. I wonder why such a proud profession would invite that kind of confusion about their identity.

Harrison Reed July 24, 2014 12:25 PM

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