Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the controversy of the “doctor” title for DNPs. As a new graduate nurse and a current DNP student, I agree with you that, like many other professionals who have earned Doctorate degrees, DNPs should also be able to utilize this title. Physicians do not own the title “doctor.” Some other professions have doctorate degrees, too. It is unfair that DNPs cannot use the “doctor” title. The DNP program improves healthcare outcomes and quality of care. Someday soon, the entire healthcare team will be doctors. This team of doctors may include pharmacists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses, and physicians who all strive toward the same goal, each with valuable knowledge and expertise that should be acknowledged equally.
There is something we can do to change this situation. First, educate patients about the DNP degree: explain that you are a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Display your degree and title on your name tag. Second, inform nurses about the DNP degree: DNP graduates can be role models for other nurses. Third, educate other healthcare professionals about the DNP degree: Some physicians question the DNP degree because they are satisfied with the traditional relationships between nurses and physicians. Try to collaborate consistently with other healthcare professionals and highlight the benefits of interdisciplinary and interprofessional patient care. Lastly, DNPs can shape policy and make our voices known: As DNP graduates, we have the knowledge and skills to implement change and influence policy in various healthcare settings and organizations. We must collaboratively raise our voices and demonstrate the positive patient outcomes we have created. As DNP graduates, we must be involved in professional nursing organizations (CANP, NAPNAP, etc.). This includes membership and participation at the national, state, local, and specialty nursing organizations because this will give us a voice in addressing issues vital to health care and the nursing profession.