Home Forums The Controversy of the DOCTOR Title Earned Doctoral Degree Reply To: Earned Doctoral Degree


Hello April,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the controversy of the “doctor” title for DNPs. While the “doctor” title is commonly associated with that of a physician, a doctor refers to anyone with a doctoral degree in any field and is not limited to a single profession. Besides medicine, other healthcare professions have adopted the doctoral degree as the entry to practice or terminal degree. Such professions include pharmacy, physical therapy, audiology, and more. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree was created in response to the demands of today’s healthcare system and provides educational advancement opportunities for nurses. Advanced nursing education improves patient and healthcare outcomes as well as quality of care.
The American Medical Association published Resolution 211 in 2006 to oppose nurse doctoral degrees, stating that the quality of care provided by DNPs is not equivalent to that of a physician. They argued that APRNs using the title doctor would cause confusion and jeopardize patient safety. It is important to note that APRNs do not wish to be confused with physicians; they simply want to be respectfully addressed by their appropriate title. APRNs practice patient care according to the nursing model, not the medical model. If an APRN were to introduce themselves as “Dr. Smith,” they should subsequently identify the nature of their degree. For example, “Hi, I’m Dr. Smith, a nurse practitioner.” The same clarification goes for other individuals with a doctoral degree. APRNs can also use this introduction period as an opportunity to educate patients and the healthcare team about their role as a DNP. It is the public’s right to know who is caring for them. DNPs are a valuable asset to the healthcare team, and their educational achievements should be celebrated, not diminished in any way.