You've hit upon one of my pet peeves, which is the disrespectful way many of our patients are addressed in this casual age ("Professionalism: What's in a Name?" Advice, p.r.n., May 2004). I always use Mr. or Mrs., although I introduce myself by first name.
At one time, nurses were addressed as, for example, "Nurse Ames." Those were also the days of starched uniforms, strict hospital rules, and a more docile patient who obeyed unquestioningly. Now we wear colorful scrubs and no one can tell us apart from the housekeeper or nursing assistant. If we want more respect, maybe we should start by dressing more like professionals. Meanwhile, my patients are welcome to call me Jan.
JAN SKIBA, RN
A nurse has to go with her gut feeling on this. I believe in starting out on an even keel with patients. I say, "Hello, Mr. Smith, I'm Mrs. Brown, your nurse." If we move to a first-name basis, then that's cool too. If the patient is a young person, I call him by his first name, but I'm Mrs. Brown, out of respect for our age difference.
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If I'm calling a doctor "Dr. Smith," then I'm "Mrs. Brown." If she asks me my first name, I ask hers. And I use it!!
MARILYN P. BROWN, LPN