You Sir, Pee: An Uncomfortable Experience at the VA

You sir pee’d on me when you, as my primary care provider, introduced yourself as “Dr. ‘Usurper’ at my VA primary care appointment, and didn’t clarify you are a nurse practitioner (NP). I only knew because I’m a former NP turned MD and I pay attention to this stuff. But in return, I find it ironic that even though I’ve earned my MD and due to start residency this July, I cannot even use the term ‘doctor’ in a clinical setting just yet. What is Joe Public supposed to think? Exactly, it’s a mirage being perpetrated onto the unsuspecting public to deceive them into thinking you are an actual doctor, a physician. The term ‘usurp’ (you-sir-p) is a verb that means “take (a position of power or importance) illegally or by force;” “take the place of (someone in a position of power) illegally; supplant;” or “encroach or infringe upon (someone’s rights).” ‘Usurper’ is the term used for someone who usurps, or “is an illegitimate or controversial claimant to power, often but not always in a monarchy. In other words, a person who takes the power ……for themselves, without any formal or legal right to claim it as their own.” Just like you “Dr. ‘Usurper’ did to me. The American College of Emergency Physicians has a position statement addressing this very disturbing issue (,being%20treated%20by%20a%20physician):

“ACEP strongly opposes the use of the term “doctor” by other professionals in the clinical setting, including by those with independent practice, where there is strong potential to mislead patients into perceiving they are being treated by a physician.” 

Now, at the time of my appointment, it put me in a very uncomfortable position. What to do? I ended up not saying anything at the time of the appointment, but have since filed a complaint with the patient advocate. I did so anonymously because the beauacracy, politics, and retribution at the VA is horrible. This needs to stop! I wrote:

Just an ethical and fraud complaint: I myself am a former nurse practitioner and now I’m a physician (MD). When my PCP introduced himself as Dr. ‘Usurper’ – this unethical as it is meant to deceive that the individual is a physician and not a nurse practitioner. There was no clarification I was seeing an NP. This is fraud and unethical and NPs are not supposed to call themselves “Doctor” in a clinical setting. Even if he has a DNP degree, this is an academic degree and not a clinical degree to the same extent PhD’s for example in mathematics, can call themselves doctor on a college campus but not in a clinical setting. Make it stop.

427540cookie-checkYou Sir, Pee: An Uncomfortable Experience at the VA