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

As do I. My wife was at school with him so I guess that makes for less formality.

I’m reminded of a quote, it goes something like this:

Some people use “respect” to mean “treating someone like a person” and some people use “respect” to mean “treating someone like an authority.”

And some people who are used to being treated like an authority say “If you don’t respect me I won’t respect you” and they mean “If you don’t treat me like an authority I won’t treat you like a person.” They think this is fair, but it is not.

I don’t think this applies to you specifically, I have no reason to believe you are anything other than respectful in your professional conduct. That said, any time I encounter someone who finds me treating them like a fellow person is insufficiently respectful, I will require no encouragement to seek aid elsewhere. It’s not difficult to get me to treat a person as an authority, but assuming it from me as a default is not the way, and I have yet to have a positive experience with anyone who does so.

On a slightly more serious note-

I don’t see the problem. While more familiar and less formal, doc is still a term of respect. I feel the same way about calling an educator “teach”.

After thinking on it a moment, I would like to add that of course I wouldn’t call a doctor “doc” if it was their explicit stated preference that I not. People have the right to control the way in which they are referred to, from the pronouns people use to the way they are directly addressed. It’s just in the specific instance, I’ve known too many people who require being treated as an authority to not look askance at this sort of preference.

In front of anybody it is Doctor [his name] but in the exam room, we are on a first name basis, I am one of his first patients, 16 years now.

The issue I have with this is that someone not liking a particular name aren’t necessarily doing so due to wanting to be an authority. In general, it’s considered disrespectful to a person to call them by a nickname they don’t like.

Don’t get me wrong. I get it the doctor is informal addressing you but expects you to be formal in addressing them. That definitely is an authority thing. But people can have other reasons not to like “Doc” as a name—the same sorts of reasons why someone named James may not like the nickname Jim.

I wouldn’t address my doctor with anything special (neither “doctor” nor “doc”), any more than I would the dentist, optometrist, phlebotomist, nurse, librarian, plumber or bus driver. “Doc” strikes me as a bit over-familiar for someone I might need to talk to only transactionally, occasionally and not for long. Maybe if I had some chronic issue and saw the same doctor(s) repeatedly and often, it might be appropriate.

Here’s a fair trade - don’t call your physician “Doc” if it grates on them, if in return the office staff stops calling you by your first name.

How 'bout calling the office staff “Doc” if they call you by your first name?

For a physician who finds ‘Doc’ to be overly familiar or discordant – and I can accept that some might – ISTM that what’s left are only Hickory and Dickory.

“Doc” seems almost melodious by comparison.

On reflection …

Happy, Grumpy, Dopey, Bashful, Sleepy, and Sneezy are also viable options.

I mentioned an office staffer who texted me saying “This is Evil at Dr. ___'s office.” So maybe I should just refer to them by that name, or Satan.

My dad is a retired physician, and his anecdotes about patients invariably have them calling him “Doc.” He was a family physician, and based on what I know about him had a stellar rapport with patients and wouldn’t lean on the formality. But I can easily imagine other doctors with other approaches.

Like so many things, read the room.

It happens often. Often enough one would be foolish to take offence to it. But perhaps the man has his reasons, which my reason cannot know.

I’m reminded of the ‘hey docs’ - defined as ‘a chorus of alcoholics handcuffed to wheelchairs in big city hospital halls’ who all yell ‘hey, doc!’ when they spot a white coat.

The version I experienced was a chorus of vets at the VA hospital saying "hey doc, wait! hey doc, wait! hey doc, wait! hey doc, wait! " endlessly to every passing medically appearing person. Woe unto you if you waited.

I dunno, Grumpy, Dopey, Doctor Dwarf MD, Happy, Bashful, Sneezy and Sleepy just doesn’t have the same ring.

But how large a person would you have to be before the embroidery of your name on your lab coat did not wrap all the way around to your armpit ?

So, i saw a new doctor on Friday, for a procedure. And he walked into the little cubical, and said, “the last time i saw you was at your father’s funeral”. I don’t remember meeting this doctor, but he was one of my father’s students, and apparently they were close. He asked whether i go by my legal name on the paperwork or by the nickname my father used for me. He also updated my on mutual acquaintances.

I didn’t address him by name. When i emailed my PCP to say the procedure went well i used his full name (“John Doe”). I’m thinking that if i need address him by name, i ought to use his first name. Too weird otherwise.

The procedure did go very well. It can be unpleasant, and it was pretty much as good as it could have been, and he got a good view of everything he needed to see, and took the biopsies he needed to take. So i guess if i need to do it again, I’ll return to him.

You might do that once. I expect you’d find them more sensitive about it than Doctor/doc.