patients call you by your first name without asking?

Home Forums Women Physicians patients call you by your first name without asking?

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Author
  • #35971

    I am not someone who is obsessed by the title of Doctor, in fact, in social situations I prefer that people not know what I do until AFTER I’ve gotten to know them…but, I’m starting to get annoyed, because I’ve noticed lately that
    some of my patients address me by my first name without asking my permission. I was standing at my workstation the other day and I heard my first name being called. All of the staff at our office call me by Dr. ( I never really asked them too, but they always have). So I turned around and the mother of a patient was calling me back into the exam room. Now, this is not someone I’ve know for years, and it really threw me off. I answered her and did not say anything about her using my first name instead of Doctor. But, it does bother me when patients do this (especially new patients), and I’m not sure how to respond. I am fairly young (35) and have a lot of female patients. I try to be friendly and down to earth, but I RARELY call my patients by THEIR first names unless they are children, teenagers, or I’ve really gotten to know them. It seems like this happens more often with women my own age. Maybe I should take it as a compliment that they feel close enough to use my first name. My last name is not incredibly difficult to say. So I don’t think that is it. I almost NEVER hear patients address my male colleague by his first name. I don’t know. Maybe I’m being picky, but it feels disrespectful if they don’t even have the courtesy to ASK if I mind. I did spend a lot of time and money earning the title of doctor. What does everyone else think? And has anyone ever told a patient they don’t want to be called by their first name? Have you noticed that patients do this more to female physicians? Thanks.


    I complained of a similar thing in JUly- but 1/2 the replies made it seem like I was being too…worried about something frivolous. 🙁 I AM WITH YOU ON THIS!!!! I have an easy last name also- so USE IT!!! But i have to admit I do not correct cute little elderly people who are ussu just friendly. The guys in thier thirties calling me by the first naem makes me uneasy…teenagers doing it pisses me off…I continue to introduce myself as DR. _____ and on the phone always say this is Dr. ______ . I do not think I am obnoxious, just business-like.


    I haven’t said anything when a few patients have done this – but I am aware that there are dynamics to it. It comes from my patients with social problems, and I think they are ‘testing’ me. I’ve kept to business as usual, and they’ve dropped it.


    Ladies, you deserve the same respect the male doctors get. I personally think that in all professiosal situations, you should be called Dr.—— ESPECIALLY by children(under 18). As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t answer a person that I didn’t know EXTREMELY well if they called me by my first name in a professional situation because I have a “childish” first name (KIM).Maybe I’m an ego maniac :rotfl:


    pathdr: You are def not an egomaniac for wanting the respect- or demanding it!


    I also feel slightly uncomfortable when pts call me by my first name, but I don’t make an issue of it. Part of the problem is that we often call pts by their first names. I am in my 30s and with older pts I usually ask, “Do you prefer to be called Susan, Mrs. Jones or something else?” They usually laugh and say “Susan’s fine,” this being California. With people my age and younger I tend to call them by their first names right off the bat. It would sound ridiculous otherwise. I don’t think it’s right to always err on the side of being formal. I used to call everybody “Mr. or Mrs.” in residency and I was criticized for being cold and aloof, I think partly because of this. But I can see why patients may think if we use first names it’s only fair they can refer to us by first name as well. Most instinctively sense it’s not an “equal” relationship exactly and use “Dr.” but there are a few who don’t, and I don’t think they always mean disrespect by it.


    I have only corrected a few patients directly. Instead, I might try to find a way to insert my name in the conversation. “So when you’re thinking about taking that drink, remember what Dr. ______ said …” I agree with always calling yourself Dr. __________ on the phone. I hate this problem.


    I usually call patients by their first name, because as Sandra stated, it’s taken as “too formal” or uncaring otherwise. Especially in the ER, it’s amazing how much better people (in California 🙂 ) respond to their first names. You can yell…”hey Mr. Smith, can you hear me? Open your eyes!!” all day with minimal response. But as soon as you yell “hey Bob…yoooohooo, yo Bob, look at me!!” he’s like, eyes open, looking around, “wha’cha want, who’s calling me?!”

    I don’t allow patient’s to call me anything but Dr. Mylastname…no Ms. Mylastname, no Nurse Mylastname. It’s important to both me and the patient’s that they know (and understand) that I am their physician. Too many times as an intern I allowed patients to call me otherwise, and during rounds told my attending “I haven’t even seen a doctor my entire time in this hospital”..not realizing I (the girl who’d been coming around everyday for a week) *was* indeed their doctor. The attending reflected this in my eval…thinking that I wasn’t doing my daily rounds properly. Can you imagine how a misunderstanding like this may play out in…the administrator’s office…or in court? Yep, every patient knows I’m the MD, and I know they know everytime they address me as such.


    Hello everyone! :wave:

    I’m also young Dr (below 30) :rolleyes: and with my short practice experience I agree to no familiarity aloud to new patients etc … I am trying politely and clearly to tell my name is Dr. Lastname and I respect my “adult”/ elder patients and call them by name only if they ask me too.It doesn’t against closer relations Physician-Patient…
    And opposite when I am not at work or I’m a patient I ask to call me by my name… :blush: .


    Two things:
    I always think it’s a little amusing when I realize my patients call me one thing in the office and another when they’re home. For instance, they’ll always call me Dr. Lastname to my face, but when they’re talking about their spouse, they’ll say something like, “I told him, ‘You’d better get in to see Kristen about that!'” but at least they don’t do that to my face.
    Also, I still struggle with calling people my own age or younger “Mr. ” or “Mrs/Ms”, especially if I know them a little. So, frequently I’ll just say, “Hello, Sir!” Or “Good afternoon, Ma’am”. I don’t practice in the south 🙂 but I feel like it’s a little friendlier than Mr/Mrs, and yet not too familiar. Also, keeps you from having to pronounce their last name!

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.