How To Address A Nurse Practitioner

Are they doctors or just nurses ?

Many people are confused when they want to address Nurse Practitioners whether they are just nurse or doctors since they obtain a doctorate degree. These days, nurse practitioners have the job with DNP,  a doctor degree of nursing practice. When the whole healthcare team have a doctorate certificate, many people will ask question, Who is the doctor? That sounds simple enough, and some people will answer that professionals who already completed  doctoral education should be addressed by “doctor.”


Many people tend to associate a doctor title with a degree of MD but they also address other jobs this way too, such as osteopaths  with DO, podiatrists (DPM), optometrists (OD), psychologists (PsyD), dentists (DDS or DMD), naturopaths (ND), and chiropractors (DC).

The origin word “doctor” is from the Latin language docere , which means “to teach.” The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines it as, “a learned or authoritative teacher or a person who has got one highest academic degrees  in a university.” Therefore, according to this definition, it can be concluded  the the title of doctor belongs to anyone who receives a doctoral degree in any subject field.

How to address a nurse practitioner?

AACN (The American Association of Colleges of Nursing) and AANP  (the American Association of Nurse Practitioners) have recommended every nurse practitioner to earn a doctor degree in nursing practice (DNP). There is  a contentious debate whether they can address themselves as “doctor”  among nurse-led organizations and physician-led. In 2006, AMA  (the American Medical Association) had Resolution 211 (A-06). In this resolution it states that a nurse who holds a doctoral degree and identifies himself or herself as a doctor  will jeopardize patient safety, cause confusion, and also decrease the trust inherent in the real patient-physician relationship. The resolution also  states that a patient who believes that he or she is getting care from a doctor that actually is not a physician, but only a DNP, might put his/ her health at risk.

Concerning the question, “how to address a nurse practitioner? “ Some organizations of nurse practitioners had responded  that physicians did not have the title “doctor.” They reassured physicians that actually nurse practitioners had no intention of misrepresention for themselvesas with MDs, such as a DPM, DO, DDSOD,, PsyD, PharmD, DPT, DMD, OTD, or AuD.

In addition, these organizations had responded to the statement that DNPs would put a patient’s health at risk. It has been known that nurse practitioners actually provides high-quality, reliable, safe, and effective care. For instance, according to a Nursing Economics systematic review, which was abstracted on PubMed , nurse practitioner care had been compared with physician care and it was found that there was no difference between them concerning patient satisfaction and patient health outcomes.

There some rules concerning how to address a nurse practitioner. The laws which restrict nurse practitioners from callig themselves as “doctors” are various across the United States. In addition, State medical associations which represent physicians actually have big political power. Six states made it a felony for them, in spite of their doctoral education, to call themselves as “doctors.” Nine states demand a nurse practicioner to follow his or her introduction with a statement of clarification, like, “I am Dr. Deboa, a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

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