Is there any such thing as a "Doctor Nurse"?
September 5, 2013 11:39 AM   Subscribe

For most of the past two weeks my son has been in the hospital, at two different local hospitals actually, for pancreatic stones. My son is autistic, which complicates the diagnostic process. We had to be sent from the hospital we liked to a different hospital across town, because they were the only place locally that could perform the ERCP he needed. At the second hospital I took an immediate and visceral dislike to one of his care providers, and it was explicitly because she came into the room and introduced herself as "Doctor (whatever)", and then handed me her business card which presented her as "Dr. (whatever), ARNP". In other words, she is a nurse practitioner who came into the room and introduced herself as a medical doctor. She also spoke to me like I was ten years old, which did not endear me to her either. But in any case, my question is: Is there any such thing as a "Doctor Nurse"? I understand what a Nurse Practitioner is, my primary care provider is actually a Nurse Practitioner and I absolutely trust and respect her knowledge and experience. But this woman, I feel like she lied to us with the very first word coming out of her mouth, and I don't understand how she can get away with introducing herself as a doctor in a medical facility without actually being a Doctor of Medicine. Am I missing something?

BTW - just so I am not tempted to come back in and moderate my own question: My son has been released from the hospital and is no longer in her care. If for any reason we wind up back at that hospital and she is assigned back to my son, I will request that she not be on my son's medical team. So that is not the issue. I genuinely want to know whether I overreacted, and if somehow the way she presented herself was actually appropriate.
posted by Lokheed to Health & Fitness (39 answers total)
It's possible that she had a doctorate in nursing. This is a real degree and would allow her to legitimately present herself as Dr. Whomever. In fact, if that's the title on her business cards, I would assume that this was the case.
posted by KathrynT at 11:42 AM on September 5, 2013 [30 favorites]

Even if she had a doctorate in nursing I don't think using the Doctor title in a clinical setting is appropriate if she is an ARNP. Sure, if she were teaching or something, go ahead and use the title to gain credibility or whatever, but why use it in the hospital if she is an ARNP?

I would call the hospital patient relations people and ask her credentials, and voice your concerns. I'm a nurse and can see where this would be concerning, confusing, and potentially misleading.
posted by Fairchild at 11:46 AM on September 5, 2013 [13 favorites]

There's a wikipedia entry on the use of the title "doctor" by those who hold a doctorate in nursing.

I am a doctor of law (juris doctor, the basic law degree), but I'd certainly never call myself Dr. Haddock (particularly given my esteemed rank).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:48 AM on September 5, 2013 [22 favorites]

This is the reality. Many large organizations can't afford to hire very many MDs, as there is a severe shortage and salaries are astronomical. So work that was performed by an MD 20 years ago is now performed by an RN, a PA, or a PhD in nursing. Often entire large clinics will have just a single MD to sign off on the paperwork, while all the care is actually delivered by nurses.

It is perfectly acceptable for a PhD nurse to introduce herself/himself as "doctor" and they do have a similar number of years of education.

I have heard that nursing education is a little less "rigorous" in that it doesn't train people to do heavy statistics, know genetics, know the mathematical basis behind pharmacokinetics, etc. I doubt any of that is necessary for actually delivering care.
posted by miyabo at 11:52 AM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

I would be more concerned that she was trying to "pass" as an MD had she not simultaneously handed you the card, which immediately clarified that she was a nurse.

However, it seems the real issues were with the way she treated you, and that her using the term "Dr" (assuming she actually has a doctorate) seems inflated given the overall feeling of her condescending attitude. You have every right to be upset by the entire package of your experience with her, even if she wasn't technically misleading you.
posted by third rail at 12:01 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Are you kidding me?

A nurse walks into your hospital room and introduces herself as "Doctor...?"

Absolutely trust your gut on this, because she never verbally clarified she is a nurse and not an MD. Given this took place within a hospital, there is a high possibility this would confuse many people, as the average person would not know to clarify.

This is as close to impersonating a medical doctor as you can get. She should be advised to leave her credentials on her business card, and her actual role in her verbal intro.
posted by Kruger5 at 12:03 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]

Many medical professions, including nursing and pharmacy, are seeing a sharp increase in the number of their practitioners with doctorates, either because of licensure requirements or market pressure. The debate over how to address these people specifically in a care setting is ongoing - physicians generally oppose the use of the honorific "Dr." for anyone not a physician, for the reasons you've identified - but yes, the nurse most likely had a DNP or PhD and absolutely would then be "Dr. Thus-and-such." It reflects the education level attained.

I have seen some places make an effort to refer to themselves/others as "the nurse, Dr. So-and-so, and the physician, Dr. This-and-that," but there's not currently a good consensus on how to handle this. I doubt she deliberately intended to confuse or mislead you.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 12:03 PM on September 5, 2013 [18 favorites]

Just to clarify (this is mentioned in the top part of the wiki entry that Admiral Haddock posted but might be missed from that direct link), there are two different kinds of terminal degrees in the field of nursing. Terminology is confusing right now as old titles are being phased out, but roughly, there PhD nurses who have Doctorates in Nursing Science. These are often people in research careers, but they may work in clinical settings. I have a family member who holds this degree, and she doesn't introduce herself as "Dr" in medical settings. (Not saying that others don't, but that she at least draws the distinction.)

On the other hand, there are DNPs, Doctors of Nursing Practice. Again to clarify, my family member wasn't an NP on the path to her doctorate; as it happens, she was a nurse many years before, but had been working in another field for decades before going into a research career.

So yes, there are absolutely NPs with clinical doctorates, rather than research PhDs. That has absolutely no bearing on whether you should keep this particular one as your care provider, by the way! You wouldn't be at all out of line to ask her for details about her certification/use of the doctor title, either, if that's the main thing you want to clear up.
posted by heyforfour at 12:09 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you think it is worth your time, you should absolutely pass on your concerns to the " Patient Care Quality Office" or its equivalent (I recently passed on a bouquet to the emerg staff who did a great job with my youngest son).

The question is, is it worth your time? Do you think you will run into this person again?

Thanks to our youngest, who is accident-prone, we've been to the hospital a lot, and there is a continuum of "bed manners", from very bad to very good, but the end result is, does the "bedside manner" (in your case, a pompous ARNP) affect the treatment? Something to consider.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:10 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you can get NYTimes articles, you might read this one: "When the Nurse Wants to Be Called ‘Doctor’"
posted by procrastination at 12:14 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Most countries have actual laws about who can and can not call themselves Dr. Personally I can, and do, because I have a PhD even though I am not a medical doctor. I am not impersonating anything, I really am a Dr of a certain, acceptable, type. Dr does not automatically = MD pretty much ever. I don't know what the laws are in your country, but if she has a PhD then she most likely has every right to use the title, your confusion about how many different types of Dr actually exist notwithstanding.

So you need to find out two things: what are the laws in your country and what qualifications she has. If she doesn't have whatever is necessary to call herself Dr then being upset definitely makes sense and a complaint to the hospital is in order. That is misleading and may even be illegal. But if she is actually allowed to use the title based on her qualifications then there is no point complaining, she hasn't done anything wrong. And I would consider your reaction rather over the top, yeah. It makes me wonder if your ideas about what rigid roles exist in the medical profession are a bit out of date?
posted by shelleycat at 12:19 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

Another thing to note: MDs aren't the only possible medical doctors someone could meet in the US. Beyond Doctor of Medicine degree (M.D.) and doctorates in nursing, there are also Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O. or DO), who also refer to themselves (accurately) as medical doctors. As described on Wikipedia:
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine is a professional doctoral degree for physicians and surgeons offered by medical schools in the United States. Holders of the D.O. degree are known as osteopathic physicians and have the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as physicians with a Doctor of Medicine degree (M.D.). D.O. physicians are licensed to practice the full scope of medicine and surgery in sixty countries, including all 50 states in the US, and make up 7 percent of the total U.S. physician population. As of 2012, there were more than 82,500 D.O. physicians in the United States.
They're rare, but unheard-of. My brother was thinking of getting at DO, as it's less competitive than the MD programs in the US, but confers the same rights and responsibilities.

And as noted above, seeing a nurse practitioner or other skilled and experienced non-MD is getting increasingly likely in the US. This doesn't necessarily mean you'll suitable assistance. I would suggest you focus on the level of care and service you received, not on the title of the professional who treated your son. Focusing on the title is a murky issue at best.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:20 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

As far as I know, the allowance for an APRN with a doctorate (PhD, DNP, or the being-phased-out Doctorate of Nursing Science) to refer to him or herself as 'Dr' in a clinical setting is, like all other APRN related laws, state by state regulated by either the Board of Nursing, Board of Medicine, or whichever board regulates ARPNs. It is the sort of thing that really, really polarizes people on both sides and as such often generates bad vibes.

Some of the APRNs I work with are DNPs/PhDs. Most of them refer to themselves as 'Dr' in the academic setting, but not clinical. However, the lack of a real title for the person acting in loco, be it an APRN or PA puts us in an uncomfortable situation. We may be credentialed (allowed in the hospital's setting) to do things that previously physicians would do all the time (and still do sometimes). We are still trained, like physicians, to refer up the line when things get beyond our training. But we introduce ourselves by name only, since we don't have a title. I'm not Nurse Jones, I'm APRN Jones, and I can prescribe in 49 states and put in central lines and so on. But APRN Jones is an awkward introduction. When I introduce myself, it's as 'Jane Jones, the nurse practitioner on this floor.' The difference in the casual versus authoritarian titles can be semantically, emotionally, and psychologically difficult to accept. There is no good solution yet and it's frustrating to me and many of the other PA/APRNs I work with. If I get a PhD or DNP down the road, you bet my business card will say it. (I'm still pushing for 'I'm NP Jones' but that sounds weird still so, uh, come on guys, we all have to do it!)

That said, individual poor bedside manner can come in all titles and levels of education. Perhaps this woman has been having problems with people not taking her seriously, or insisting on seeing 'the real doctor' - who, in the summer especially, may be fresh out of school and with less hands-on experience in the matter. As a result, she may be doing this out of defensiveness, although possibly with less sensitivity than is needed in some cases.
posted by cobaltnine at 12:22 PM on September 5, 2013 [16 favorites]

Post-facto edit, after checking your profile: Florida is the ONLY STATE that doesn't allow for prescriptive authority. Emotions among NPs are really riding high there in part because they feel like other states have recognized their education and training but Florida still refuses to. This may be something to take into consideration.
posted by cobaltnine at 12:24 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]

As a data point, AP style for the news specifies that in most cases, only the following types of doctors should be identified with "Dr.": doctor of dental surgery, doctor of medicine, doctor of optometry, doctor of osteopathic medicine, doctor of podiatric medicine, or doctor of veterinary medicine. The stated reason is "because the public frequently identifies Dr. only with physicians."

Not that AP style necessarily applies to everyday life, or is even good at keeping up with the times—but it does feel misleading to me to have "Dr." in front of her name if she's an ARNP. If she's a DNP, too, and that's the reason for adding "Dr." before her name, well, I still wouldn't like it as a patient if she identified herself as "Dr.," but if she does so, DNP (or whatever doctoral degree she has) should be included after her name to clarify.
posted by limeonaire at 12:30 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another reason a nurse with a doctorate might choose to identify herself as "Dr. Whomever" is to make it clear that she is the caregiver for this patient. My kid is a patient at Seattle Children's Hospital, in the GI clinic, and the person in charge of her care is a specialist ARNP -- that is the "doctor" she sees. For a lot of people, the nurse is the one who takes your vitals and your history and the doctor is the one who comes up with a diagnosis and a treatment plan; if that's the role she was filling, and if she had a terminal degree, I can definitely see why referring to herself as a doctor would be less confusing.
posted by KathrynT at 12:42 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Shellycat - for all its worth, I don't think my reaction to her had anything to do with my having out of date perceptions of the roles that exist in the medical profession. Between my mother and my son I spend entirely too much time in hospitals and doctor's offices. I have the greatest respect for all of the medical professionals we deal with on a regular basis. This particular woman, she came strolling into my son's room two days after abdominal surgery and started making facile observations about his current condition. She not only handed me her business card, but also a fake baseball-style card that introduced her as "The Doctor Nurse" that expressed her oh-so-fascinating interests like crocheting and taking care of her pet cat. It was a presentation geared towards small children. My son is 19 years old. If she wants the kids to trust her as a doctor since she's the face they are going to see, that's cool. I get that. But to treat the parents like children as well, that just seriously rubbed me the wrong way. She was completely clueless as to my son's medical history, and her observations were useless. Perhaps I fixated on the "Doctor Nurse" thing because that was the most obvious sound bite that rubbed the the wrong way.
posted by Lokheed at 12:49 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I genuinely want to know whether I overreacted, and if somehow the way she presented herself was actually appropriate.

In my opinion, the answer to both questions here is yes.

I think it's appropriate to make a formal complaint about her bedside manner as you experienced it, but the fact that she has a doctorate and thus is a doctor should not be a part of the complaint.
posted by crankylex at 1:00 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's totally possible for someone to have a doctorate in nursing. I have a friend with this degree and she tells me that there's some contention in the field as to whether they should be addressed as "doctor" or not, as patients may be confused.
posted by bunderful at 1:10 PM on September 5, 2013

Yeah, not okay with me. Given the poor service and the misrepresentation, I'd say worth a letter of complaint.

In a medical context, people referring to themslves as doctor should be physicians.

I'm prone to telling people to get off my lawn though, and don't really feel like anyone besides physicians and PhDs should ever be called doctor, and PhDs should only be called doctor by their students in class (I have a phd).

The proliferation of new-ish mostly professional doctoral degrees kind of weirds me out.
posted by pseudonick at 1:21 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Whether or not she technically has a legal right to call herself "doctor" doesn't matter so much as the fact that she was confusing as to her credentials and qualification, and, moreover, confusing in such a way that she had to have known it would create a false impression. It's nice that she she gave you a card that says she's an ARNP, and it's nicer still that you're informed enough to know what that means. Lots of people would have little idea what the alphabet soup after the "doctor's" name means.

I'm reminded of the old TV trope wherein someone introduces themselves as "detective" and later shrugs that he never said "police detective." She should be clear who and what she is. I've got nothing against NP's. I'm seeing an NP on Wednesday, and my official MD of record is more of a researcher anyway. Had she said "I'm doctor so-and-so, the Nurse Practitioner," I'd be all on her side. But I don't like people trying to pull a fast one. So, I think you've got a valid compliant. I doubt it will do much good though, unless some insider is already looking for ammunition.

Her condescending bedside manner is wholly separate matter, also worthy of a complaint, but again, I wouldn't expect much to come of it. Still, individual complaints are the only way someone gets the sort of long history of complaints that might make someone take notice.
posted by tyllwin at 1:38 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Nurse Practitioners and Registered Nurses are different things. Nurse practitioners are much more like doctors than nurses. They, like Physician's Assistants, can do 90% of what physicians can do, including prescribing medication in many cases. If they are practicing as a nurse practitioner, they are quasi-physicians and it is appropriate to call them doctor in that setting.

(However, I do agree that an RN who happens to have a doctorate is still practicing as an RN and should not be entitled to the Doctor title in a careprovider setting. In an educational setting, they would be.)

Poor service is another story, which you should absolutely complain to the practice about.
posted by gjc at 1:39 PM on September 5, 2013

But this woman, I feel like she lied to us with the very first word coming out of her mouth, and I don't understand how she can get away with introducing herself as a doctor in a medical facility without actually being a Doctor of Medicine. Am I missing something?

I think the answer is, yes, you may be missing something. But based on your question and followup I'd say go with your gut.
I also find it odd that her business card says Dr. Jane Doe, ARNP. To my recollection, any MD business cards I've seen say "Jane Doe, MD" (without the Dr. honorific), and if your does have a DNP/PhD I'd expect (and find it less... confusing) to see "Jane Doe, ARNP, PhD".
posted by hot soup at 1:44 PM on September 5, 2013

Was the particular wing or area where "The Doctor Nurse" worked geared towards younger kids? If not, the presentation was definitely weird. I understand that neither you nor your 19 year old son are kids, but some people don't adapt well, so she could have spent a while developing what she thought was a fun, jovial approach to kids and their parents.

Was the result of her time with you positive? I realize that talking to you and your son like children and providing useless observations can be annoying, but was the net result of her time with your son positive?

I ask because I'm hoping there was something beneficial from your time with her that you can focus on, instead of the annoying parts. It would be a shame if a decent "doctor nurse" with poor people skills gets marked up for how she communicates but gets no regard for the good she did. Of course, if she was wholly useless in your time there and only aggravated you and your son in an otherwise trying situation, write away.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:45 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

An anecdote: I've come across people who, while not medical doctors, insist on being called Dr. [Last Name]. Often, it seemed they were women who appeared to want recognition for the experience and expertise they had. I realize the title has a different connotation in the medical field, making the issue muddier than normal.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:47 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Apparently this was recently of legislative interest in your state.

CS/SB 612: Health Care Practitioners

GENERAL BILL by Health Policy ; Galvano
Health Care Practitioners; Requiring that certain health care practitioners make specified disclosures when introducing themselves as "doctor" when rendering health care, etc.
Senate Committee References: Health Policy (HP) , Judiciary (JU) , Appropriations (AP)
Last Action: 05/03/2013 Died in Judiciary
Effective Date: October 1, 2013

It all sounds complaint-worthy but take care to scrub the complaint clean of any hint of 'this person is irritating to me personally' -- don't snark on her for having a card listing her hobbies, even though that part is hilarious. Perhaps it's her idea of a good icebreaker for interactions with kids? 'Misleading introduction, entirely unclear what basis observations were made on, unhelpful, would not like to think of another parent under duress having to puzzle out credentials and have time wasted, this interaction stood out amidst the otherwise first-rate care provided at your facility, yours truly, etc.'
posted by kmennie at 1:48 PM on September 5, 2013

also a fake baseball-style card that introduced her as "The Doctor Nurse" that expressed her oh-so-fascinating interests like crocheting and taking care of her pet cat.

This made me think of the Deck the paralegal in "The Rainmaker". He graduated law school but never pass the bar exam, but he handed out business cards calling himself a "paralawyer". (in the book - not sure about the movie)

As some have said, what she can call herself is going to be a matter of the state regulatory body. For example, in my state, calling oneself "esquire" if not a member of the bar is considered to be the unlicensed practice of law. I would suspect, but do not know, that the governing body in your state would only permit M.D.s or D.O.s to use "doctor" in a clinical setting. Maybe chiropractors, but again, the state regulatory body would have that in charge. If you had a question about that, I would direct it to the hospital.

You cannot be a quasi-doctor any more than you can be a quasi-lawyer, quasi-police officer, or quasi-pregnant. Either you are or you are not. Medicine is a licensed and highly regulated profession, and that includes who can call themselves "doctor" in a clinical setting. This is such a big deal that the Truth in Healthcare Marketing Act of 2013 is a bill introduced Congress this year. (although it will likely die in committee) In fact, it may help to think of what a professional calls themselves as a matter of consumer protection.

OP, I think you did not overreact. A call to the administrative division of the hospital should be able to tell you if your reaction was correct.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:50 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Another thing to note: MDs aren't the only possible medical doctors someone could meet in the US. Beyond Doctor of Medicine degree (M.D.) and doctorates in nursing, there are also Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O. or DO), who also refer to themselves (accurately) as medical doctors.

Not to mention podiatrists (D.P.M.) [I recently had a podiatrist who had both an MD and a DPM], dentists (D.M.D. or D.D.S.), chiropractors (D.C.) (I know, I know).

Across the street from the church I used to go to there was a dually credentialed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and M.D. Given what I've heard about the market for vets, I wouldn't be surprised to find someone out there who's a vet, but working as a PA or NP.

And in Queens there's a pair of doctors who share an office who are both, Dr. Doctor, one a urologist and I forget the specialty of the other.
posted by Jahaza at 2:06 PM on September 5, 2013

In a care setting, what matters is the needs of the patient and family, not the ego of the care provider. The vast majority of the public expects a person in a hospital setting introduced as a "doctor" to be a physician. To deliberately invite confusion in such a stressful situation because you're more concerned with titles than with making things as easy as possible for your patients is unprofessional, irresponsible, and ultimately undermines your goal of garnering greater respect.
posted by HotToddy at 2:08 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

An old coworker with a doctorate in biochemistry (or biology or chemistry, it's been a while since we talked about it) from Yale expressed it me thusly:

"'Doctor' used to mean, more or less, 'scholar'. Someone who devoted their life to becoming an expert in an academic subject. Later, the bloodletters, barbers and tooth-pullers wanted recognition for their unsavory practices. They somehow managed to corral the title from academics. Now, we have to justify our years of education and research. Yes, we are 'Doctors'. We are the real doctors. I call them 'physicians'. That's all they are getting from me."
posted by nedpwolf at 2:09 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]

Perhaps I fixated on the "Doctor Nurse" thing because that was the most obvious sound bite that rubbed the the wrong way.

OK but in your original post you said you took an immediate and visceral dislike to her explicitly because of the title she used. So that had nothing to do with how good she was at her job because you hadn't even gotten that far. Was she actually bad at her job otherwise? Did she have much of a chance to be good at it given your immediate visceral dislike before she even did anything medical? These are things you need to figure out before you decide to complain.

And of the answer is yes she sucked medically too, then that's cool, complaining is a fine idea. There are official ways to do that and you should follow up on that. But if she is allowed to use that title and you include that as part of your problem then your complaints are going to come across as petty and uninformed regardless of how true that is, so that might be something to keep for maximum effectiveness.

Medicine is a licensed and highly regulated profession, and that includes who can call themselves "doctor" in a clinical setting.

Well yeah and what we are finding is that in some cases some of those people are ARNPs.
posted by shelleycat at 2:20 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

I love NPs, think the profession is great and that they are more often than not very good at their jobs. One of the best clinicians I know is a DNP. She does not refer to herself as a doctor though. She earned her doctorate but feels it is misleading to her patients to call herself a doctor.

If I were in your shoes I would probably just inwardly roll my eyes and and ignore it if her medical judgment felt sound. At least she is referring to herself as The Doctor Nurse which is better than just leaving the nurse part out all together.

For what it's worth, I'm a Physician Assistant and my patients often call me doctor despite the fact that I always, always introduce myself as a PA. I correct them every time it happens because to let them believe in any way that I'm a medical doctor feels unethical to me.
posted by teamnap at 2:22 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]

Thank you, everyone.

I suspect that the majority of my response was based on being on Day 10 of this hospital adventure with my son (in the middle of which, I also had a parallel hospital adventure with my mother at yet a third hospital). I was (and am) tired and cranky, and worried sick about my son. He has returned home, but has a minimum of 3 more ERCP procedures in his near future before all of the stones are removed from his pancreas. Nothing that happened with the Nurse Doctor was egregious enough to warrant any kind of formal complaint. I thought the actual surgeon was clear, cogent, and very helpful in answering questions. I also thought the Fellow who assisted in the surgery was equally helpful and informative. I don't know that any medical professional who is not a pancreatic specialist could really have said anything to us that would have been helpful in the past two days, so I'm just going to give the Nurse Doctor the benefit of the doubt and go take a nap. Thank you again.
posted by Lokheed at 2:46 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]

I know you already wrote a follow up, but I have one more salient comment. If all you saw were the surgeon and his trainee aside from this NP then she was probably a hospitalist, which muddies the waters more. Hospitalists are usually assumed to be physicians but are increasingly NPs. People expect to see NPs in doc in the box offices but not in specialized clinical settings, so this woman might be trying to say "I have the required education for this job" in a really unfortunate way (aside from the fact she would *have* to be a PhD to have gotten away with that card thing and so on, the nursing staff would know about that and report her if she wasn't accredited).
posted by syncope at 3:09 PM on September 5, 2013

If she had a Ph.D. or DNP, wouldn't that have been on her card?
posted by amtho at 7:15 PM on September 5, 2013

I'm from Florida as you are, OP, and this would absolutely rub me the wrong way. When we hear "doctor" in a clinical setting, we think of someone who has gone through medical school and passed the boards and can prescribe medicine, including controlled substances. In my state, physician's assistants and nurse practitioners cannot do these things. I wouldn't go to a specialist who wasn't board certified, and I wouldn't consider a Physician's Assistant or a Nurse Practitioner a doctor--and neither does my state.

I'm sorry if Nurse Practitioners feel they aren't respected for their own skill, but that's an entirely different issue. I can respect a nurse, doctor or physician's assistant on their own merits. If you want to be recognized as a physician, go to medical school and become a doctor. If you didn't go to medical school I want to know that, and passing yourself off as a doctor in a hospital room is NOT okay, especially not in Florida.

I am very picky about all my caregivers these days. Not taking me seriously, not keeping me in the loop and not informing me on my child's progress would result in my registering complaints and changing caregivers if I needed to, no question, no regrets. [One reason why I am such a hard nose about this is that my son almost died because a doctor who my trusted pediatrician took on as a partner dismissed my concerns repeatedly].
posted by misha at 7:54 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

If she's calling herself 'Doctor' because she has a PhD then that certainly ought to have been on her business card.

Her use of the term seems really sketchy to me.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:04 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think this has been mentioned above, but I think some people are missing the point -- technically she can call herself 'doctor', that's not in dispute--but it seems inappropriate to introduce herself as such in a setting where expectations are typically that 'doctor' means M.D. I have a Ph.D. and would never introduce myself as a doctor in a setting where that would lead to confusion (though I would love to perform an emergency tracheotomy with a bic pen given the opportunity, even though I have no business doing so).
posted by drobot at 8:53 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

(BTW, Physicians Assistants are awesome. They will have "PA" or "PA-C" (for Certified) after their names. They can do darn near anything an MD can, as long as they operate "under the supervision of" a full doctor, which can even be at the end of a phone line.)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:27 AM on September 6, 2013

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