Letters to the Editor: Do yourself a favor — call your doctor ‘Doctor.’ A physician explains why

A masked and sheathed medical provider walks toward standing monitors.
The intensive care unit at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Nicholas Goldberg’s piece about whether to address his longtime physically formally or by his first name raises a good issue.

I am a mostly retired cardiologist with 49 years of practice. I think that physicians should be addressed as “Doctor” in the office or hospital. This serves important functions.

Patients need to be confident in the professionalized relationship. They discuss very private matters with the physician; they should not have to worry about whether or not that information is improperly shared. The formal relationship has nothing to do with the patient as a “subordinate.”

Outside a medical environment, how one addresses a physician depends on their relationship.


Stephen Berens, M.D., Encino


To the editor: As a mediator I did pro bono work for the L.A. County Bar Assn., including training students in peer mediation. I was also a university professor, and the kids asked me what they should call me.

I told them they could call me “Dr. J,” and although I didn’t have his moves, I expected them to pay attention. They did, and we had some great classes.

Janet Cameron Hoult, Culver City