Is it rude to refer to your doctor as "Doc"?

I wouldn’t refer to a physician as “Doc” unless I was a personal friend, at which point I assume I’d be on a first-name basis with them anyway. I suppose I might on rare occasion say, “sure, Doc” as one might say, “okay, Counselor” or “you got it, Boss” as a slightly affectionate/joking alternative.

But just to call a physician with whom you have only a professional relationship “Doc” feels like crossing a boundary to me - assuming a level of intimacy that doesn’t exist, or lacking in courtesy and respect (the showing of which isn’t limited to physicians; EVERYONE deserves the same courtesy).

Somewhat similarly, I know someone named Monique; those close to her call her “Mo.” I didn’t call her Mo until it came naturally, after we’d developed a relationship.

That’s my view from the patient’s side, so I understand why some doctors might prefer not to be referred to as “doc.” I would hope that they’d brush it off as a very minor annoyance, though. I’d think a lot less of a doctor who genuinely became annoyed.

Nyeeaahhh… What’s up, -urk-

Well that is sort of the point.

“Doc” is a chummy nickname. Do you have the relationship with your physician that a chummy “term of endearment” nickname is appropriate? The very words you used to describe it place it a group with “dear”, “honey”, “sweetie”, “luv”, “darling” …

Pediatrician here so my thoughts may be different than adult care providers, but I do have parents who call me some of those things! It’s their style and I am not annoyed … exactly. I certainly never correct them or complain! They like me and that is their way of expressing that, I get it. I would never offend them by commenting on it. And there a few who I have known long enough that a term of endearment is not weird.

For my part I refer to caregivers as Mr. lastname or Ms. lastname unless told otherwise when I do. I introduce myself as Dr. Firstname Lastname, and am completely fine if parents then refer to me to the kids as Dr. Firstname, or even Dr. name of toy I keep in my pocket. An occasional teen will call me “Doc” and it is fine. I’ve often known that teen since they were a baby; they are entitled to a chummy term of endearment nickname. A few parents call me by my first name and that is fine. I will then refer to them by first name as well.

Some of my partners and staff do otherwise and I am curious how you as parents feel about the takes -

Parents are sometimes spoken to as “Mom” or “Dad” and a couple of partners actively encourage the Dr. Firstname construct. While I don’t do the latter I’d be very comfortable with it but talking to someone as “Mom” or “Dad” seems off to me.


I hated it when I was referred as “Mom”. Felt depersonalizing and minimizing. I usually either corrected that person or made a point to get further care from a professional who didn’t diminish me.

The ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ thing seems out of place. If you’re talking to my kids it makes sense but if you’re talking to me it doesn’t. I don’t recall anyone doing that when I was a kid but I would have thought it strange to hear an adult call my mother ‘Mom’. My kid’s pediatrician did it though. I thought it was odd, but no biggie. I don’t know if my kids thought anything about it, they probably weren’t paying attention.

I assume his underling was Assistant to the Neurosurgeon-in Chief.


Right after he prescribes the gris-gris?

Based on my perception of how I communicate w/ my care providers, next time I see one I’ll ask them if they mind. It would amaze me if they cared, but if they do, that will be useful info.

I remember when I first became a judge. It felt a little odd to have so many staff refer to me as Judge Dinsdale or Sir. It was the office practice, so I was hesitant to ask them to use my first name. Eventually I concluded that they just didn’t give a damn about me, and it was easier to call all the judges something like “Judge” then putting the effort into learning and using their names! Basically a form of “Hey you!” :wink:

My physician husband has no problem with being called Doc by either staff or patients, so long as it’s done in a friendly manner. IMO, offense lies in tone and attitude more than the actual word.

That sounds incredible rational of him.

It could be that some resistance to being called “Doc” is an association with unsavory characters known as “Doc”, like Doc Holliday.

There is of course a long tradition of good baseball players with that nickname*, like Doc Cramer, Doc Medich, Doc Crandall and Doc Gooden.

*a few, like Medich and Bobby Brown actually were M.D.s. There’s a story about Brown, who the Yankees acquired in the 1940s when he was studying to become a doctor. Management went overboard praising his promising medical credentials when announcing his signing, to the point that a reporter inquired whether N.Y. was picking him up as a baseball player or a physician.

I’ve just never been big on formality, with with exception of judges in court, who I always call “your honor” as a token of respect and cops who I call “sir”, or “officer” in hopes they will give me a warning in lieu of a ticket when I’m pulled over (it rarely works, but it doesn’t hurt to try).

Generally I call people by the title they prefer, even if they’re an ass. I just call the asses what I really think of them under my breath.

I always introduced myself to new patients with “I’m Dr. [contraction of my last name, which is long and frequently mispronounced]. Sometimes they ask what I prefer to be called and I reply “doc is good.” If they appear to have a sense of humor, I add, “just don’t call me late to dinner.” That usually puts them at ease and I usually I get a chuckle for the lame joke.

I have noticed that my youngest patients often default to formal address, while my oldest are least formal and often migrate to first name basis for both of us (it doesn’t bother me). With middle-agers it’s typically “doc” or Dr. [X] for me and first name for them.

The doctor/patient relationship is intimate and new patients are often nervous. Putting them at ease with a little informality is easy and nice to do.

I just got a text message

“Hey Jackmannii. This is Evil, Dr. ___'s office…”

Now, that could be be an example of defective voice recognition software. But I kind of suspected that doctor of hiring people of questionable moral character.

I always refer to my doctor as doctor so and so (doctor and last name).

If I met a doc who didn’t like being called “Doc” I would strongly consider finding a new doc. If you need me to be more respectful than that you’re welcome to earn it. It’s cool that you finished medical school and residency and all that but in my experience I’ve found that’s not much of a filter for incompetence.

Don’t forget, they might’ve done a fellowship too.

Hmm…so I am not sure I’ve ever called my doctor anything? Like if I say “Thank you” it’s just “Thank you” not “Thank you, Doc/Doctor”. Or if he asks me to do something I say “all right that sounds good.”

We’ve recently began swearing in front of each other. That stuck out to me (I’m a swearer, I’m not offended). I kinda think we have a good relationship…I’ve been seeing him since I was 19 and he’s not too much older than me. And I think for the most part his other patients are elderly.

I don’t think I’d call him Doc, though. I love Bugs Bunny and Oscar the Grouch but I don’t want to sound like them. I wouldn’t want to call him by his first or last name either. If I ever find myself needing to do it, I’ll call him Doctor.

Even though I do not particularly mind being called Doc or other terms of endearment a patient with your approach is VERY welcome to go elsewhere for care.

I treat patients and parents with respect even when their behaviors are inappropriate. I would treat you with respect. But I’d prefer to not have to deal with those who feel that behaving disrespectfully is default until respect is earned.

I don’t call people with red hair “Red” and I don’t call tall people “Stretch”. Maybe I’d call a sergeant “Sarge”, but I don’t know if I’ve ever met one.

We called one of my husband’s orthopedic surgeons Bob - he was my brother’s roomie in college and we’ve known him since the 70s, so no formality there. He’s just Bob.