Three California nurse practitioners are suing the state for the right to identify using the term "doctor," claiming they have earned the right after receiving their doctorates of nursing practice, according to a Sept. 15 report from the American Medical Association.
The DNPs claim that a California statute only allowing California-licensed allopathic and osteopathic physicians to use the term "doctor" is unconstitutional. The restriction has been on the books in the state since 1937.
Physicians have testified that the breadth of physician education and practical training eclipses that of nurses’ training, and the law avoids confusing patients over who is treating them.
Additionally, physicians have noted that patient surveys support the desire to only allow MDs and DOs to identify as "doctors."
The Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies has also urged the state of California to dismiss the lawsuit.