Introductions and Greeting Attitudes Amongst Future Physicians in the United States

Kempland Corbin Walley, William Johns, Akash Shah, Anthony B Olmert, Tyler A Gonzalez, Michael C Aynardi, Edward K Rodriguez


Purpose Understanding of the intricacies of the patient-physician relationship is essential to understanding outcomes in health communication. However, factors that influence the initial encounter--the backbone of one’s longitudinal or acute relationship -- are poorly understood in medicine.

Method In 2019, medical students at 30 United States (U.S.) medical schools were asked to complete a questionnaire assessing their preference regarding their attitudes toward how they plan to introduce himself or herself upon graduation. For all survey respondent data, respective frequencies of categorical variables for patient cohorts were compared with Fisher exact test including 2 groups or chi-square test for patient cohorts including more than 2 groups


 Results Among all respondents (n=1056), the majority of U.S. medical students plan to introduce themselves as resident and attending physicians most formally via “Hello, my name is Dr. Appleseed” where ‘Appleseed’ is their last name (n=685, 65% resident, n=772, 73% attending), followed by: ‘First Last’ (15%), ‘First’ only (16%), and then ‘No preference’ (4%). Among stratified comparison sub-groups, there was only a significant difference wherein female students more preferentially introduced themselves using the prefix “Doctor” than male students when considering introductions as future-residents. Additionally, 40% of subjects report that their preferred greeting construct would change based on the following patient factors: age, race, gender, clinical condition, and clinical setting.

 Conclusions Future U.S. physicians prefer to introduce themselves using the prefix ‘Doctor’ via “Hello, my name is Dr. Appleseed,” in which “Appleseed” refers to the treating physician’s last name. Female students show a stronger preference for introducing themselves using the prefix “Doctor” than male students, and nearly half of all students acknowledged that their greeting construct changes based on patient demographic factors and clinical setting.


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