Paging Dr. Nurse: New Degree Sparks Turf War

Physicians irked at nurses' doctoral status
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2009 12:00 PM CST
Paging Dr. Nurse: New Degree Sparks Turf War
Some physicians don't think nurses with doctoral degrees should be called "doctor."   (Shutterstock)

A doctoral degree for nurses has sparked a backlash from physicians, who say referring to nurses by the title "doctor" could be confusing to patients, NPR reports. “I can just imagine a patient walking into my exam room and saying, ‘Now, Dr. Smith, are you a doctor doctor, or are you a doctor nurse?'” says one physician. But some nurses say they deserve the title after completing the 6-year program.

“I practice at an advanced level, and I have earned the right to be called doctor,” said one. The disagreement over the title is more rooted in “ego” than concern for confused patients, says a dean at one of the more than 200 schools that offer a doctorate in nursing. “With all these new people—physician assistants, nurse practitioners—coming into the field, maybe our training won't lead to a secure position in the future,” notes a medical student.
(More nurses stories.)

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