Can a dentist use an assumed name?

I have used the same family dentist for over 30 years. He has a partner in his office, a Dr. Payne. Unfortunately, though he seems competent, Dr. Payne has trouble attracting regular patients. His name genuinely appears to make some potential patients nervous.

They are both near retirement age, so the point is somewhat moot, but I was wondering what the legalities are of using an assumed name for professional purposes. I understand authors and actors often assume pen or stage names in an effort to promote a particular image. Is there any reason dentists or other medical professionals cannot use an assumed professional name if they want to?

if his initials are N and O then he has no problems.

he could be Dr. Farb.

he has a license with his name on it.

I know a doctor that legally changed his name for personal reasons. The difference here would be a non-official name change. If Dr. Payne isn’t try to mask his identity I don’t see what would be wrong with it, or why anyone would care.

Dentistry is a regulated profession in most places, so you have to be qualified and you have to be registered. And, almost certainly, you have to practice under the name in which you are registered.

So, if you want to change your professional name from Dr. Payne to Dr. Makefeelgood, you’re going to have to change the details of your registration. It depends on the fine detail of the regulations in your particular jurisdiction whether you can only do this on foot of a formal legal change-of-name with all the bells and whistles, or whether you can do it on foot of something less formal.

An easier approach might be to downplay your name in the branding and promotion of your practice. The office of Dr. Payne can very easily become the “[Suburb name] Dental Clinic”.

When he retires, his partners can advertise their practice as “Now Payne-Free!”

That;s quite common. It also has the advantage of increasing the value of your practice, when it comes time for you to retire and sell it. The new dentist can keep the same name that patients are used to.

Also, the last name can be downplayed in the office, too – have everybody working in the office and the patients too refer to him as Dr. Andy or whatever his first name is). Gives a feeling of friendliness & informality that many customers prefer. Especially in a scary space like a Dentist’s office!

My experience (which includes spouses who worked in medical offices) is that the demigod in charge is always simply “Doctor,” used as a name.

“Doctor will want to see that chart.” “Tell Doctor there’s a family call for him.” “Doctor says you can’t have an extra hour for lunch.” Etc.

I’ve worked in doctors’ offices before and absolutely cannot stand the usage of “Doctor” as the full name for a doctor. It sounds idiotic, as though you’re addressing a child - or are one - and are talking about tattling to “Teacher” or something.

Of all the reasons to fear a visit to the dentists, his name appears to be the most trivial.

I agree. It only works if Chevy Chase is doing it.

I’ve wondered this as well, except in my case it is a local Realtor named Roach Brothers.

Really? I mean, I’m all for family pride, but Roach? Selling real estate?:confused:

He should ask to be called Dr. Doctor. Of course, then there’s a risk of patients asking to “give me the news” for the next 50 years…

Yep, I come from a family of doctors. My dad and aunt, who are retired pediatricians, were always known as Dr. Firstname.

My favorite name has always been Dr. Whitehead, the dermatologist.


Article about a lawyer who started using a different middle name following an embarrassing game show appearance.

My first thought would be that he has to practice using the same name that is on his license to practice medicine. But there is a woman doctor here in town who got married, and now practices under her married name. So I presume any doctor can legally change their name, and then legally practice under that new name.

My mother’s optometrist, years ago, practiced under his real name, which was N. E. W. Lenz, and I went to school with his nephew. He was mentioned in Ripley"a “Believe it or Not”.

The oral surgeon who removed my wisdom teeth was Dr. Hertz. He had a weird sense of humor and loved it.

Unless contravened by state law, in the US, it’s legal to use any name you want as long as it’s not for fraudulent purposes. Of course, licensing to practice is a different issue, and would be a matter of state law, and most likely, a legal name change or perhaps a DBA would be needed.

Ha! The orthodontist in the small town I grew up in was Dr. Hang, who all of the kids with braces referred to semi-affectionately as Dr. Fang.