We all have visited a doctor’s office or a hospital at least once in our lives. How do we address a doctor? By calling him just a doctor or his surname after the word doctor. But most of us get confused as to how to address a nurse practitioner.
Should we address her by her name? Or by her surname? Or call her with her surname after the word nurse?
I, Ida Koivisto, think this one is the most correct and respectful form to address a nurse practitioner. Everyone has their own views regarding this and in this article, I am going to share my opinion as to how to address a nurse practitioner in a healthy environment.
How do you address a nurse practitioner?
A nurse practitioner is basically someone who provides medical assistance to the patients and assists the doctors. There are Certified Nurse Practitioners also called CNP or Doctor of Nursing Practice, also called DNP.
If you want to know more about nurse practitioners check out these articles of ours:
- Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant
- Can Nurse Practitioners Do Surgery?
- Can a Nurse Practitioner Prescribe Medication?
I want to share a small experience of mine with you.
I went to a nearby hospital as a kid with my parents and my mother asked me to go to the nurse station and call a nurse practitioner. I went to the nurse station but I was baffled.
I didn’t know how exactly to address them.
First I thought of addressing them by their first name but then I thought that it might sound disrespectful.
Then I thought about addressing them as a doctor but I did not think that it was right to address any nurse as a doctor as that would create confusion in the hospital.
I kept standing outside the nurse station when a nurse practitioner asked me my concern.
She introduced herself by using her first name. So I directly told her that my mother was wanting to meet her.
That day I escaped from that situation but this question remained in mind forever.
After a few days, I met my friend’s sister who was a nurse practitioner in a respected organization. I raised my concern in front of her.
After listening to my query she laughed. Then she told me that the role of a doctor is to diagnose and prescribe medical aid to a patient. But the role of a nurse is much more than that.
Their role is to give the patients the prescribed medical aid and to take care of them. They do not care by whatever title you address them because for them their job is to portray their kindness and care so as to heal their patients and they don’t crave a title.
She told me that most nurses prefer to be called by their first names like Sarah and no prefix should be used in front of their name.
But if you really want to give respect to her and her professional degree then you might just call her Nurse and the first name, like Nurse Sarah instead of using just the first name.
They are working in the hospital or doctor’s chamber owing to their nurse’s degree so the most correct form to address them is by using the prefix Nurse before their first name.
She also said that different people prefer different things and have a different point of view in this regard.
The alternative of this is to directly ask the nurse what she would be liked to be called.
After her this suggestion the number of times I have visited the hospital or have dealt with the nurse practitioners I always have asked what they would like to be addressed as.
The maximum times I have received a response is that they don’t actually think so much but if I am asking them then I could call them by their first name.
But calling them by their first name is something that in my personal opinion is disrespectful.
So I would recommend people:
Use the word Nurse and prefix and use their first name to address any nurse practitioner to give them respect for the services they provide to us and the care that they take of their patients while helping them in curing their diseases.
But how to address a nurse practitioner in writing? Does it differ from speaking?
Let me guide you.
How to address a nurse practitioner in writing?
Addressing a nurse practitioner in writing is not something different than addressing her in person.
Now imagine a situation wherein you have to send a mail at the reception of the hospital to ask them to have your appointment fixed with a particular nurse practitioner. In that case, how would you address that particular Nurse Practitioner?
I once faced a similar situation. Wherein I had to mail to the hospital to book an appointment with Joe who was a nurse practitioner over there.
When I started drafting the mail, I wrote in that I wanted to book an appointment with Nurse Practitioner Joe on a particular day, date and time.
That mail so drafted showed my respect towards the nurse practitioner but it was, however, seems very odd. I was all confused that how should I go about it.
Then I modified my mail and wrote that I wanted to book an appointment with Joe, the Nurse Practitioner, on this day, date and time.
This drafted mail seemed to be perfect as it did not feel odd to read it and it was showing respect towards the nurse practitioner.
Therefore, in my opinion when you are writing to a third party referring to a particular nurse practitioner then you must use the first name of the nurse practitioner and then use her designation.
Hope that this helps you as much as possible. Next, I’m going to guide you on how to address a nurse practitioner in a letter.
How to address a nurse practitioner in a letter?
Addressing a nurse practitioner in a letter is a tough job because you get confused that how do you address her and it is different from addressing her in person.
Some people have the point of view, that you must address the nurse practitioner in the letter by her first name.
Like for example, in the envelope you must write:
- Full name of the nurse practitioner
- Name of practice, clinic or hospital
Then in the main letter, you can write as:
- Dear (Name of the Nurse Practitioner)
But now imagine a situation, wherein you were a patient in a hospital and you met a nurse practitioner who was not in charge of your immediate care but she still took good care of you and you want to write a letter to her showing your gratitude towards the services provided by her.
But as she wasn’t your immediate in charge, you don’t know her first name and on her badge, her name was, say, J.Wilson.
There are many nurse practitioners who, maybe, for security reasons do not feel comfortable in writing their full first name so they just write the initial of their first name and then write the complete last name.
In such a scenario how would you address the letter to her?
In such a case, in the envelope you must write:
- J.Willson, Nurse Practitioner
- Name of practice, clinic or hospital
Then in the main letter, you can write as:
- Dear J.Willson
Therefore, while writing a letter to a nurse practitioner I recommend you to address the nurse practitioner as her first name.
This is because the letter is written to a nurse practitioner in her individual capacity and she is the one who is going to read it, referring her as Joe the Nurse Practitioner will obviously not seem good.
Further, if you address her like Nurse Practitioner Joe, then it would also sound too odd. If you address her as Nurse Joe in a letter then it would be again sounding odd.
To call her my that in person is. The correct way to sound respectful but while writing a letter, it may not be a correct way to address a nurse practitioner.
In my opinion, if you want to write a letter addressed to a nurse practitioner, then in that letter you must address the nurse or actioner by her first name.
Conclusion: How to address a nurse practitioner?
So how to address a nurse practitioner?
To sum up, it can be said that the role of a nurse practitioner is to take care of the patients and they are not really affected by the title or the name by which people address them.
Most of the nurse practitioners want people to address them by their first name.
But in my opinion, if you want to show respect towards the nurse practitioner then you must address them by using the prefix Nurse and then their first name.
In my knowledge and experience, it is the correct way to address a nurse practitioner. Also, if you want to address her in writing, when you are writing to a third person, then you may use her first name and then her designation in that organization.
On the contrary, when you are writing a letter to them you must address them with their first name as it would not sound odd.
However, if you do not know their full first name as on their badge their full first name is not mentioned, then you may use the name mentioned on their badge.
Nurse Practitioners take care of the patients so we must show as much respect as possible while addressing them without making it sound too odd.
Now you should know how to address a nurse practitioner in various situations.
If you want to learn some more check out these articles of ours:
I hope this helped you out!