Controversy Over the Word “Doctor”

Since the implementation of the DNP degree, “doctors” have become concerned according to the New York Times Health Blog.  They worry that nurses with a doctorate degree using the title “doctor” will begin to push for higher pay, top administrative positions and also cause confusion among patients.

Doctors should not worry about the former.  If nurse practitioners continue to perform at high levels and provide high quality, cost effective care they will most certainly continue to receive pay increases and be rewarded with higher positions in medical administration.  This is a natural consequence of high quality performance rather than simply the title “doctor”.  Patient confusion is the most likely and easily addressed result of nurse practitioners beginning to use the title “doctor”.

Kevin Pho, MD offers a simpe solution in his blog.  He suggests that the public be “educated about the different doctors who may be treating them.  Let them know that not all board certifications are alike…It is up to our physicians and professional associations to emphasize and publicize that.”

I agree with Kevin.  Many physical therapists and pharmacists are “doctors” in that they hold a doctorate degree however physicians are not attacking their titles.  The term “doctor” is simply a title for those who hold a doctorate degree, not a profession in itself.  Physicians should not be threatened by it’s use among nurse practitioners but embrace the advancements of education among nurses as this makes them better collaborators in the workplace.

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