Do you hear wedding bells in your future? Or, maybe you are more like me and the wedding bells rang long ago but you have some sort of pathological aversion to paperwork and embarrassingly have yet to change your last name. Well, I overcame my deepest paper pushing fears this winter and have finally completed the name change process including the complete array of nurse practitioner certifications and licenses.
Since I have just tackled this dreaded task, which by the way wasn’t that bad, I thought I should share a brief synopsis of the process to hopefully save you some headaches in the name change transition. Here’s a brief how-to guide for changing your name as a nurse practitioner.
Step 1: Grab a book or magazine, a cup of coffee, some Purell, your social security card and marriage certificate. Head to the local social security office. Take a number and have a seat in the most uncomfortable plastic chair you can find (don’t worry, they are everywhere). Wait an hour or so until your number is called. Get your name changed on your social security card by the first employee who seems almost motivated enough to help you.
Step 2: Repeat the above at the Department of Licensing changing your last name on your driver’s license. It is recommended that you refill your Purell first. Also, you might consider running a brush through your hair and wearing a shirt you like. No, you don’t have to remove your slippers- these won’t show in your new driver’s license photo.
Step 3: Don’t you hate your new signature? When I attempt to sign my new last name it looks like I am trying to re-learn how to write in cursive. At this point, you should notify your employer you are changing your name. They will need to get you the appropriate Medicare paperwork so you can continue to get paid by insurers (important especially since you probably just dropped some serious cash paying for that wedding!) under your new name.
Step 4: Armed with your new documents and marriage certificate, visit your state’s board of nursing website. No Purell, hairbrush or cute shirt necessary, you won’t have to leave the house for this one. You will need to change your name on both your RN and advanced practice nursing license. You may be able to do this online or by printing the necessary paperwork and mailing it to the board of nursing. This typically must be done within a certain number of days of changing your name on your social security card and driver’s license. Based on my experience, however they won’t send you to jail if you wait, oh six months or more.
Step 5: Tired of paperwork yet? Now change your name on your nurse practitioner national certification, either through the AANP or ANCC. This can be done easily online.
Step 6: You’re getting close… Visit the NPI website, login and change your name in the National Provider Identification system. Forget your username, password and all the answers to your security questions? I did too. I mean, who uses “What is your shoe size?” as a security question. Obviously it depends on the pair of shoes. In the future I recommend questions like “What is the size of your favorite neon pink Asics running sneakers that have a hole in the side because you thought your puppy was over the shoe chewing stage?” Don’t hesitate to call the NPI 1-800 number for assistance. You won’t be on hold long and they are very helpful.
Step 7: Almost there… Login to your DEA account online and change your name in the DEA system. They will send you a new DEA license via snail mail.
Finally! Once you have completed these steps you are ready to practice under your new last name. Fortunately for me, my signature is messy enough that although I changed my last name, I did not find it necessary to alter my autograph.
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