Nurses who go to the necessary lengths to earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice degree deserve to be addressed as “Dr.” in correspondence and when interacting with colleagues and patients. Apparently there’s a thin line between that and self-reference, however. As reported in a post on Nurse.org, a nurse practitioner who did earn her DNP has been fined $19,000 by the County of San Louis Obispo (California) District Attorney’s Office for calling herself “Dr. Sarah” in social media promotions. While she did specify that she is a nurse practitioner in some instances, in the eyes of the DA failing to do so consistently while not disclosing who her supervising physician was could have misled prospective patients into thinking that she’s a physician. The issue may become moot at some point, however. As JUCM News reported recently, NPs in California are moving toward certification that would allow them to practice without physician oversight in the near future. Regardless, it may be advisable to use full credentials (eg, MD, DNP) when identifying clinicians on your website and social media platforms to avoid any confusion.
A ‘Doctor’ by Any Other Name…Could Be Cause for Sanction