Good news/bad news: Who gets to be called Doctor?
There’s good news and there’s bad news. This week, we present an issue and ask for your take. Is it good for patients? Bad for nurses? Do you care?
Good or Bad? You decide:
There’s no dispute that medical doctors have traditionally had the singular label, “Doctor,” to themselves. For instance, if you’re going to see a physics professor with a doctorate degree, you wouldn’t typically say, “I’m going to the doctor.” The other side of that coin is that you also wouldn’t have a problem calling him Dr. Smith once you arrived.
All of this is to introduce a new issue emerging in the healthcare world, one where medical doctors want to keep the term “Doctor” to themselves. The stem of the controversy comes from the fact that more and more other medical professionals – nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, for example – are earning doctorate degrees.
A report in the New York Times highlights the facts that many physicians are uncomfortable with other medical professionals labeling themselves doctor, even when they hold a doctorate degree. Doctors feel this can lead to patient confusion about their care.
The New York state senate currently is reviewing a proposed bill that would prevent nurses from calling themselves doctors, regardless of the degree they hold. Similar laws are already on the books in Arizona, Delaware and other states prohibit nurses from calling themselves doctors unless they immediately identify their profession.