Experience Matters

Know Your "Doctor", Their Experience, And Their Profession

“Dr.” – – Two letters, one period, so much fuss. Then again, this short combination of letters and punctuation is rather coveted. It projects expertise and draws respect. It indicates status, accomplishment, years of study. It earns patients’ trust. So perhaps it should be no surprise that more health care professionals want to see “Dr.” before their names.

But who should be allowed to call themselves a doctor? Some non-physicians say they have achieved doctoral-level academic/professional degrees and deserve the title. Others wonder if this will confuse, not help, patients in clinical settings.

The answer is to make sure you know who your “doctor” is and their profession:

PHYSICIAN –Graduate of medical/osteopathic school with residency and fellowship training

Ann Smith, DO (Doctor of Osteopathy)
Ann Smith, MD (Doctor of Allopathic Medicine)

Nurse Practitioner (NP/APN) Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)–  may have a graduate level doctoral nursing degree

Ann Smith, DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
Ann Smith, DoN (Doctor of Nursing)

Physician Assistants (PA) – may have graduate level doctoral physician assistant degree

Ann Smith, DMS (Doctor of Medical Science)

Psychologists –Graduate level doctoral degree

Ann Smith, PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Ann Smith, PsyD (Doctor of Psychology)

Chiropractors –Graduate degree from chiropractic college

Ann Smith, DC (Doctor of Chiropractic)

Dentists –Graduate degree from dental school

Ann Smith, DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery)
Ann Smith, DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine)

Pharmacist –  Graduate degree from a school of pharmacy

Ann Smith, PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy)

Optometry – Graduate degree from a college of optometry

Ann Smith, OD (Doctor of Optometry)

Physical Therapy – may have graduate degree from a physical therapy program

Ann Smith, DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy)

Audiologists – may have a graduate level doctoral degree

Ann Smith, AuD (Doctor of Audiology)

Education and training matters when it
comes to who provides your health care

Source: AMA Survey
think a doctor's years of medical education/training are vital to delivering optimal patient care.
said patients with one or more chronic diseases benefit when a doctor leads the care team.
want a doctor to have primary responsibility for the diagnosis and management of their care.