by Hammon CRNA
If you have an earned doctorate, then you deserve the title of doctor. The confusion comes in play when a person introduces their self as a doctor and it is automatically assumed by the patient they are a physician. However, physicians do NOT exclusively own the title of DOCTOR.
Now having said this, I do NOT think CRNAs who are doctoral prepared should introduce themselves to patients as “I am Dr. Whoever”. Doing this only adds more confusion to the mix. The general public automatically assumes when you introduce yourself as a doctor that you are a physician. They have no clue the difference between a DNP, DNAP or a PhD.
I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to a patient’s room and introduce myself as a nurse anesthetist and explain the procedure of anesthesia only to have them say thank you Dr. on my way out the door. So introducing yourself as a doctor of nursing practice or a doctor of nursing anesthesia practice will only confuse them more. It is just easier to introduce yourself by name and title such as nurse anesthetist. We know our education background; I see no reason to confuse patients with the complexities of our education.
I do believe all advanced practice nurses should be doctoral prepared. It gives a broader knowledge from which to work from in a clinical setting. It also makes the playing field a little more level between our profession of nursing anesthesia and physicians.
I am not naïve enough to think that all physicians will respect doctoral prepared nurses. However, I believe we owe it to our patients to be as highly educated as we can be in delivering their healthcare. We also owe it to the advancement of our profession. Just as important, we all owe it to ourselves knowing we have educated ourselves to the highest degree in order to deliver the safest health care that our patients deserve.