How do you introduce yourself to nurses?

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by DoctorWannaBe, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. DoctorWannaBe

    DoctorWannaBe Senior Member

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    My first day of internship is approaching fast, and I have a silly question. How do I introduce myself to the nurses and other staff? Should I call myself Dr. SoAndSo, or just use my first name? When I was in medical school, I think a lot of nurses called residents by their first name, so I'm not sure what I should do.
     
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  3. MacGyver

    MacGyver Banned
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    Always say Dr. Dont give those nurses an inch.
     
  4. analgold09

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    Why don't you introduce yourself by saying you are "first and last name, one of the interns." Then they can decide on their own whether to call you Dr. so and so or to be informal and address you by your first name.
     
  5. IndyXRT

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    That's how I did it, and it seemed to work out well. It can be kind of situational, though. When meeting in person, it's nice to do that. If you're calling on the phone trying to get something accomplished in a limited amount of time, sometimes it's best to introduce yourself as Dr. so and so (at least if you're calling someone you don't talk to very often) just to skip the "who?" step.
     
  6. Lion-O

    Lion-O Sight beyond sight.

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    When on peds, the female residents were Dr and the males were first-name.
     
  7. tr

    tr inert protoplasm
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    I prefer to be called by my first name and that is usually how I introduce myself.

    Otherwise I'll do firstname-lastname because nurses see my last name on the orders and they are trying to identify the person who wrote the order.

    I would *never* introduce myself to a nurse as "Dr X" because it just sounds awfully pompous, most of them are old enough to be my mom, and they know I'm a Dr because of the white coat and the stethoscope.

    Most nurses just end up calling me "Doctor" anyway because they can't remember my name.

    But seriously, don't you think it's a little ridiculous to insist that a nurse who is your mother's age call you "Dr Smith" while you call her "Joanie?"
     
  8. RTrain

    RTrain National Merit Finalist

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    I completely agree with this. I can't stand introducing myself to anyone other than patients as "Dr. RTrain" because I feel like a jerk - I really do consider other folks in the hospital colleagues and I don't have an image problem - I know I went to med school, I don't need to have it reinforced every time someone talks to me. BUT... I have learned the hard way that when I call the page operator to contact a pompous consulting subspecialist, if I say, "This is Firstname Lastname" they will assume I'm a nurse, page with my first name only, and I will get a call back in around 180 minutes.
     
  9. fab4fan

    fab4fan TiredRetiredRN
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    Introduce yourself however you wish to be addressed. Don't waste too much time thinking about this.
     
  10. oompaloompa

    oompaloompa 0.20 Blood Caffiene level

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    I usually just say "Hi, I'm [first name], the peds resident for this service." as an intro to both staff and parents. Since it's entirely likely I'm the only male staff member on the entire floor, no one ever gets confused, unfortunately it's a little more complicated for my female colleagues. The only time I usually drop the "Dr." is when I'm on the phone trying to get something done, or I have some older parents to talk to.

    Oddly enough for me, it's typically the older staff that insist on calling me by my title. I guess this is because they trained when the hospital was more formal than it is now, or else they just got tired of learning all our names. I don't care what you address me as, but I think it's ridiculous to have people my age (mid 20's) call me "doctor". I think I would laugh if they introduced themselves as Mr./Ms.
     
  11. Samoa

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    I always introduced myself over the phone by my first name, and the service I'm currently on, so it would go, "this is Samoa, with surgery." The nurses will introduce themselves over the phone by their first name and the nursing unit they work on, so misunderstandings were rare. The only people at my institution who insisted on being called Dr. were the people without MD degrees.

    But if I was calling outside the hospital on patient care business, I would always introduce myself as Dr. so and so. It's much more efficient, because it gets you transferred to whatever line actually has a person at the other end. And internship is all about being efficient without cutting corners.

    I actually found a bit of enjoyment in the occasional situations when people mistook me for a nurse over the phone.

    But mainly it's a matter of personal style, and I find it more effective not to stand on ceremony with the nurses. At some places, there's a bit of learning curve about the fact that just because I'm not a raging b!tch, that doesn't mean my orders are just a suggestion. Or that just because I agree with a lot of their suggestions, doesn't mean that they can overrule me when I disagree.

    But no way in hell am I going to make someone who's on a first name basis with many of my attendings call me Dr.
     
  12. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good
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    I introduce myself to everyone by first and last name. When calling anyone by phone (consult, returning a page, etc.), I always use Dr. If you're returning a page to a nurses station, then this is important to identify yourself because somebody other than the one who paged you might answer the phone.

    I've found that at most very big academic centers, residents are called by first name. At most community hospitals, residents are called by Dr. so and so... at least that's my observation. n=10, take it for what it's worth.
     
  13. Taurus

    Taurus Paul Revere of Medicine

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    Typically, your name, title, and department are on your white coat.

    You can introduce yourself by your first name and they can read your coat to see what you are.
     
  14. Pir8DeacDoc

    Pir8DeacDoc Cerumen Extractor

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    My hospital is pretty informal overall, especially compared to my med school. Here the attendings will wear jeans to round on the weekends sometimes. That said, it's a fairly small hospital so eventually all the nurses know you and you don't have to use the Dr. card to get things done. But I tend to do like others have mentioned when returning a page "This is First Name, Last Name with ENT - I was paged" Seems to be fine.
     
  15. TeleoDeum

    TeleoDeum Peds EM

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    As an intern, I found that humor worked well, both with the older and younger staff. It allowed me to break the ice and let them know I was going to be a good person to work with, not "one of those ones". For example, "Hi, I am Teleo Deum, one of the new interns. Please tell me if I sit in your chair and please do not let me do anything stupid today. I would hate to hurt a kid or get asked to leave in my first week!"
    So they learned my name, that I am a doctor, albeit a new intern. I have expressed respect by acknowledging their experience in their ability to see my mistakes and their experience in having "broken in" countless other interns. But I have done this in a humorous way, so they like me and are willing to help me out with the things I am not yet familiar with, ie where is that damn form, or I did not even know there was a form!
    I have also subtly acknowledged the terror that every intern feels at being able to write orders and be the responsible one. The younger nurses think I am being just funny, but the older nurses know that I am scared SH*TLESS, and tend to act kindley towards me, both in calls and reviewing my orders, ie "Did you really mean to write for 1000mg of Benedryl, becasue that seems a little high to me?"
    Lastly, I have given a nod to the stupid "that's my chair" power struggle at all nursing stations. I did it in a funny way, but also acknowlegded the nurses' space. After doing this, I have never had a nurse ask me to move out of their space, but I do try to avoid the "obvious 5 charts piled up in front of that seat" chair.
    Just some pop psych thought for you...
     
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  17. BSN2DOC

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    I am thankful that I work in a very laid back county hospital. The residents don't want us to call them doctor -- in fact, when they talk to a patient and their family, they always introduce themselves as "Hi my name is John Doe, I am one of the doctors taking care of you." A lot of the patients call them by their first name and the patients LOVE that. I honestly think people being on a first name basis cuts down on a lot of the animosity.

    Nearly all of the attendings want to be called by their first name as well. Even the CNA's and the unit secretaries call the attendings by their first name.

    However, I must say there are a few doctors within my department that you know to never call them by their first name. Those include the medical director (she is a beast!), any attending from surgery, and there are a few surgery fellows that get pissed when you call them by their first name.
     
  18. JayneCobb

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    Unless it's one of the nurses I know, it's Dr Cobb. I tried the being feely good nice stuff, but in the end, it just wastes time. Establish who you are and that you and what you are responsible for and make it clear. Nothing will cause you more headaches than unclear boundaries and uncertain roles. And at least in my view, as an incoming intern (unless you're in Peds or a very relaxed community program) it is better to give the impression that you're in control than down to earth. At my program, if you are sure of yourself, the nurses will go to the resident over you even after taking your orders just to confirm that they are correct if you sound unsure or they get the feeling that you don't know what you're doing. I'm more than glad to accept suggestions from nurses and I try to make it a point to ask "is there anything mr *** needs from your standpoint" everyday. I spend more than enough time with the nurses that I know most of the regulars name and I greet them when I see them but I'm here to work and get the done and get home.

    I do the same thing with my patients, it's doctor Cobb until we develop a rapport and then it's on a first name basis.
     
  19. SimulD

    SimulD Senior Member

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    I was a first name sort of guy with nurses and patients for internship and the first year of residency. I agreed with the 'they can see the white coat and the ID badge' ...

    A little deeper into my residency, our most senior physician (in his late 60s) was introducing me to the staff at the main hospital in town. He introduced me as Dr. _____. As we left the nurses station, he says to me: "This isn't _____ Hospital, this is Presbyterian. You will introduce yourself as doctor and expect the staff to address you as so. Doctors used to get respect. Sometime in the seventies, when some punk kid in hightops, t-shirt, and scrub pants comes in on July 1st and says 'hey dudes, i'm the new intern, call me todd!' it all started going downhill'

    I still am hesistant to say that to nurses, but I do introduce myself to patients as Dr. I think my old attending is right - we complain and complain about physicians not being respected anymore, and at the same time we're wearing a Columbia fleece, scrubs, sneakers, checking our Facebook and introducing ourselves as "Todd" or "Vijay or "Val". Why expect any respect?

    -S
     
  20. medicinesux

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    :mad:Some people here really need to take the cork out of their bumms and wake up to the ensuing popping sound! Rather than worrying what the nurses ought to call you right out of medical school, you should be worrying about the reverse!

    With the expoding growth of the "nursing doctorate", interns will soon find themselves hunting down Dr. Doe rather than "Jane" to get the latest scoop on how their patient's fared overnight. Your kid has a 104 fever and it is in the middle of the weekend? Don't worry...go to WALMART and Dr. Doe, NURSE practitioner, will be right there to see you. Need a CABG? Dr. Jane Doe, NURSE anesthetist, will be providing the anesthesia while Dr. John Doe, CARDIAC NURSE, harvests the vessels! Your wife's water just broke and all the OB GYN's fled your state because of skyrocketing malpractice costs? Have no fear, Dr. Doe, the NURSE midwife, is here!

    Some will say, we know this has been going on and blah blah blah. Well guess what? It still is because we let it to continue and it is accelerating to the point where some of our well needed roles are being driven into extinction! :mad:
     
  21. RTrain

    RTrain National Merit Finalist

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    Am I the only one who doesn't think this needs to be brought up in every thread? Yes, I get it, we should all feel threatened. I'm busy with my residency right now.
     
  22. Pir8DeacDoc

    Pir8DeacDoc Cerumen Extractor

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    I appreciate where you are coming from. But do you really think it helps to create that divide? Nurses and patients know we are the doctors and the ones in charge. Having a team attitude and fitting in makes everyone more comfortable. I like my patients to see me as a regular guy who happens to have a lot of medical knowledge and is doing my best to help them. I don't need to stand on any ceremony. Plus, calling me doctor doesn't help me feel better about myself . It only seeks to create a further divide between the patient and myself and I can do without that. People are already scared or nervous or whatever. Why make it worse by hanging up on ceremony? As an attending they need to call me Doctor but as I am learning I prefer to keep it informal.
     
  23. SimulD

    SimulD Senior Member

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    I felt the same way and I'm still not sure what is correct. I'm starting to lean towards formality towards patients. My rationale for this is twofold.

    Firstly, I started to notice that when I was "seen as a regular guy who happens to have a lot of knowledge" it seemed that it was easier for a patient to pursue a course of action that I disagreed with. I will definitely note the caveat that this observation is inherently flawed by recall bias. I think that when it was clear who I was, I felt I had better compliance (at least to my face). No clue whether or not I'm imagining this.

    The second major reason was that patients from the tri-state area (and nationally, and internationally) were coming to "The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute" (quotes held up as two fingers) to see specialists/experts. Again, retrospectively, I think they were a little less likely to listen to me or even want to be seen by me if I was SimulD the resident compared to when I was introduced as "Dr. Young and Awesome, colleague of Dr. Head And Neck Cancer Expert".

    Who knows? I certainly don't ... You're right - at times I want to be their equal and their partner against the good fight.

    S
     
  24. tr

    tr inert protoplasm
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    I actually do introduce myself to patients as "Dr. mylastname," because if I don't they won't know who the doctor is. They have already had a bunch of assorted other people ask them a lot of the same questions, and half the people in the hospital are wearing white coats.

    Sometimes they still don't realize I'm a doctor even if I did introduce myself as such. I've had patients who called me "nurse" repeatedly throughout their hospital stays and despite correction.

    Introducing myself as "myfirstname mylastname, I'm your doctor" is a recipe for disaster because my name is very foreign-sounding and nobody here ever gets it on the first try, and then they are too busy being confused about my name to hear whatever I say just after that. I might choose this option if I were named Jane Smith though.

    I do address my patients with "Mr/Ms" (or "Dr" if they happen to be one) so there is no implied asymmetry the way there is with other hospital staff when you use their first names and they use your last name and title.
     
  25. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member

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    This is an interesting thread. As many have aluded, how you are addressed is partially the culture of you institution. That being said, I always introduced myself they most others did : Ed Madison, intern/resident/superhero -- what ever was appropriate. When it comes to patients (and more often parents in my peds world. I always introduce myself as Dr. Madison, intern/resident/superhero -- what ever was appropriate. I've always worked in teaching institutions so there are so many people there. I want them to know who I am. I never wore a white coat. I was usually wearing scrubs and a sweatshirt (unless I was in the NICU), so I could look like anyone. When introducing myslef, I would also mention who the attending was and when they'd be by. The patients/parents need to know.

    Ed
     
  26. Danbo1957

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    As an attending I always call residents, and refer to residents, as Dr. Lastname. I expect to be called Dr. Lastname in all formal settings. I do, though, address everyone (residents, attendings, nurses, and surgeons) by their first name in informal settings.
     
  27. "Dr. Blade28" here. If I become friends on a personal level with any of the staff then outside the hospital I'll be addressed by my first name...but in the hospital it's "Dr. Blade28."
     
  28. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    I prefer Dr. Cox and introduce myself that way, probably as a function of often being mistaken for the physical therapist, nurse, or some other stereotypical female role.

    Perhaps I'm old fashioned but I'm a bit appalled when a patient calls me by my first name...seems to happen mostly with the younger patients. I am always careful to refer to physicians and those who hold advanced degrees as doctor. Guess I thought everyone was.

    In social situations, its first names of course - except with medicine attendings. I make them call me Doctor. ;)
     
  29. Not "Ma'am"? ;)

    I have no problem calling male attendings "Sir" but now I'm afraid to call female attendings "Ma'am" since I've been chewed out before.

    "What are you saying? That I'm old?" etc.
     
  30. smq123

    smq123 John William Waterhouse
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    Rule #1: Don't ever guess if a woman is pregnant or not. Ever.

    Rule #2: Don't call a woman "ma'am," unless she shows you her AARP card. Even in that case, it might not be safe.
     
  31. Agreed. I've made mistake #1 before. :(
     
  32. oompaloompa

    oompaloompa 0.20 Blood Caffiene level

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    On a few occasions if I thought a female attending or consult was giving me an unnecessarily hard time, I would strike a solemn attitude and start calling her ma'am. Very polite and respectful, so there's no reason to take offense, but still somewhat reminiscent of the way you would address a fussy and impossible old lady. This subtly activates every woman's worst fear of turning into her mother and she immediately backs off. Especially effective on the under 40 crowd.
     
  33. smq123

    smq123 John William Waterhouse
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    <Sigh>

    It's okay, Blade. I'm not angry (anymore), and I know that it was just an honest accident.

    I probably wouldn't have even gotten all that offended, though, if you hadn't followed up your remark by rubbing my stomach. That was the last straw.

    ;)




    (For everyone else reading this, it's just a joke. No one's ever mistaken me for a pregnant woman, least of all Blade. I'm just teasing.)
     
  34. smq123

    smq123 John William Waterhouse
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    :laugh::laugh::laugh:

    That's awesome. I'll have to keep that in mind.
     
  35. Samoa

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    When I was a med student, one of my interns used to call the (female) chief "sir", and it seemed like a good way to handle all the age/power/insecurity issues at once, and humorously as well.
     
  36. DrDre311

    DrDre311 Makaveli

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    I guess that's one advantage of coming from the South. Everybody just assumes that you say "ma'am" because all good Southern boys are brought up like that. We're like this cultural curiosity to people who aren't from the South; people seem to think Southerners are all super-polite slow-talking rednecks and it's like they're surprised that we can read/understand English and often wear shoes.
     
  37. bryanboling5

    bryanboling5 Member

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    Eve if she's walking around on the OB floor. I ALMOST made that mistake once...Now, my policy is, unless I can actually SEE the baby coming out, I don't assume she's pregnant! :laugh:
     
  38. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    Why? You're pregnant?

    This whole thread reminds me of:

    [​IMG]

    U.N. Representative: So, Mr. Evil...
    Dr. Evil: It's Dr. Evil, I didn't spend six years in Evil Medical School to be called "mister," thank you very much.
     
  39. xanthines

    xanthines decaying organic matter
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    This.

     
  40. ddmo

    ddmo BMF

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    It's not that we don't think you understand English, it's that we don't understand your English.
     
  41. Tired

    Tired Fading away

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    Interesting range of comments. Gotta admit, I think it's pretty funny (and stupid) that some people think using the title you earned is "pompous".

    I don't introduce myself by name at all anymore. I say, "I'm the Joint Intern" or "I'm from General Surgery". If they need to know my name, they can read my coat or nametag.
     
  42. fab4fan

    fab4fan TiredRetiredRN
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    :thumbup:

    I remember being on a conference call with some other people who were all from extremely southern states. I had no clue what they were talking about. It was like they were speaking a foreign language. Not that there's anything wrong with that--it was just strange.
     
  43. DrDre311

    DrDre311 Makaveli

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    Read some of my posts and I think you'll find that I have a reasonable command of the Queen's English. Not all Southerners are from backwater hick towns; a fair number of us come from Houston, Dallas, Nashville, Atlanta, Miami, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Memphis, etc.--all large metropolitan areas.

    Plus, a nice Southern drawl is a lot easier on the ears than the classic harsh, grating, hypernasal Northeastern speech--easier to understand, too.
     
  44. fab4fan

    fab4fan TiredRetiredRN
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    Funny...to me, nothing is more comforting than the sound of a Philly accent. It says I'm "home."
     
  45. RTrain

    RTrain National Merit Finalist

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    Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I like the sound of a drawl (though as a Southerner, I'm sure you recognize how very different a southern drawl is from a Texas twang ;)). It's soothing.

    BUT - I do get impatient with how slow folks from the South talk! If I'm on the phone with someone speaking slowly, I'll find myself making the universal hand gesture for "get to the point." I try not to do that in person. :D
     
  46. AlternateSome1

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    I introduce myself to everyone by first and last name. Then I tell patients that I am the intern. That is enough information for everyone to decide what they want to call me. Some patients call me by Dr. (first name), since my last name is pretty bad, some try Dr. (last name) and botch it, and most use my first name or just call me "Doctor". I think of being a physician as having more to do with the role than the title, so nothing about what I am called offends me. The only time I will use Dr. (last name) is when I am making calls to an outside facility, since it helps the nurses and secretaries figure out what to do with my call.
     
  47. AmoryBlaine

    AmoryBlaine the last tycoon

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    1. With patients, it's alway always always going to be "Dr. Blaine." They are not in the hospital to talk to Amory, they are there to see a doctor.

    2. Side note, with kids I plan to go with "Dr. Amory."

    3. Nurses can call me whatever they want. Working in the ED/ICU tends to be very informal. In academic emergency medicine, only the oldest or most senior docs tend to be called "Dr. X."

    4. When I am an attending I plan on being on a first name basis with medical students as well.
     

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