How to Address a Chiropractor

Chiropractor | DC

The rule is either ‘Dr.‘ before, or the post-nominal abbreviation for their degree after. Never both at the same time.

—-Envelope, official:
—-—-(Full Name), DC
—-—-(Name of practice, hospital, or clinic)

—-Envelope, Social:
—-—-Dr. (Full Name)
—-—-(Address) How to Address a Chiropractor

—————-Note: it is never Dr. (Full Name), DC

—-Letter salutation:
—-—-Dear Dr. (surname):How to Address a Chiropractor  

Dr. (surname)


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

How to Address a Retired Doctor?

My friend was a physician but involved in a car accident and no longer practices. He is now retired and no longer has a state license. Can he still be addressed as ‘Dr. (Name)’?  Can he still be listed with the post-nominals for his doctorate after his name?
—-—-—-– LW

Dear LW:

Retired healthcare professionals still hold their doctoral degree.  They may not be professionally active – but they still have the academic rank of doctor and are still addressed orally or in writing as Dr. (Name).  These forms work for anyone with a doctorate including physicians, dentists, chiropractors, veterinarians, optometrists, osteopaths or podiatrists.

—-The social form of their name is:
—-—-(Honorific) (Full Name)
—-—-—-Which looks like
—-—-—-—-Dr. William Smith
—-—-—-—-Dr. Amy Thompson

—-The official form of their name is still:
—-—-(Full name), (Post Nominal for their degree)
—-—-—-Which could look like
—-—-—-—-William Smith, M.D.
—-—-—-—-Amy Thompson, Ph.D.

– Robert Hickey How to Address a Chiropractor

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

How to Write a Chiropractor’s Name?

After much ado, and a request to disclose what my credentials are (the first and only time requested in my 23 years in practice,) my son’s boy scout troop’s recording secretary stands, she says, on Roberts Rules and records me in the minutes not as ‘Dr. Mathews’ but rather as ‘Mrs. Mathews’.

After completing the Doctorate of Chiropractic degree program, internship, externship, national board certification, state licensing, ongoing continuing education and being in private practice for these many years, it would seem apparent to all that I have earned the honorific title and have been addressed as such by all since 1990, save for this scenario with our recording secretary.

Having also served as my college’s head delegate at international conferences with Robert’s Rules strictly enforced, I am hard-pressed now to find documentation to support her claims that only M.D.s and D.O.s have this privilege. In your outline for protocol there is no mention for this scenario of our healthcare profession and neither can I find anything to substantiate her vehement argument.

If you would be so kind as to address my query, I’d be most grateful.

A D.C. degree is not an honorary title. Chiropractors have practices, we see patients, we are portal of entry health care providers and are participating providers in Medicare and other major medical insurance plans.

With all these rights and privileges, I would be most grateful if Mrs. Mathews would continue to be by husband’s mother and that the minutes would be amended to reflect the honorific best defining the health care professional I am.

Thank you most kindly for your thoughts on this matter. – How to Address a Chiropractor
————————– N. R. M.

Dear NRM,

Your name is what you say your name is. That includes the honorific. I’d go over her head and discuss it with someone higher. Be ready with what Robert’s Rules of Order says on the subject.

This disagreement is not related to the correct form of address. The issue is – is it the right of one person to decide what another person’s name is in a certain realm? I don’t think a recording secretary has that right.

– Robert Hickey How to Address a Chiropractor

How to Address a Doctor and Spouse

These forms work for anyone with a doctorate as well as physicians such as dentist, chiropractor, military doctor, veterinarian, optometrist, osteopath or podiatrist.

—–Avoid: Dr. John and Mrs./Ms. Kathleen Dexter
—–Avoid: Dr. Allyson and Mr. William Carley

#1) Same Surname

—-Envelope & Salutation:
——–Dr. and Mrs. John Dexter
——–—-Dear Dr. and Mrs. Dexter,

——–Dr. John Dexter and Ms. Kathleen Dexter
——–—-Dear Dr. and Ms. Dexter

——–Dr. Allyson Carley and Mr. William Carley
——–—-Dear Dr. Carley and Mr. Carley

#2) Different Surnames

—-Envelope & Salutation:
——–Dr. Roger Fry and Ms. Jane Taylor
——–—-Dear Dr. Fry and Ms. Taylor,

——–Dr. Lucy Khin and Mr. David Patel
——–—-Dear Dr. Khin and Mr. Patel

– Robert Hickey How to Address an Optometrist

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Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

How to Address a Physician Who Lost His License?

I am involved in a case where the person on the other side is a physician who lost his license, with good reason, in every state in the US where he ever held one. Should this person still be addressed and referred to as Dr. Last Name? (i.e. Dr. Smith)

Various judges and attorneys have weighed in on this subject. A definitive answer from you would be much appreciated.
—-—-—-– S.B. in Chico

Dear S.B., How to Address an Osteopath

I say he continues to be addressed as Dr. (Name).  But it is not an only-one-answer situation.

—-#1) He becomes Mr.: By custom, U.S. elected officials are addressed as the Honorable (Full Name), unless they are removed from office or leave in disgrace. There is no protocol police force out there to enforce it, but that’s the custom. So, if you think of it that way address as ‘Dr.’ would have to go away.

—-#2) He stays Dr.: The honorific ‘Dr.’ is not issued by the local medical society. The locality issues licenses to practice in their jurisdiction. Retired physicians who no longer maintain their license are still addressed as ‘Dr. (name)’. So, addressing as ‘Dr.’ is not limited to having a current license.

—-#3) He stays Dr.: One is a Doctor, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is separate from having a particular job, like chief of staff at a hospital or chairman of the department of surgery. Those are offices one might be forced out of, but one remains a Dr.

—-#4) He stays Dr.: Doctors, ambassadors an military personnel all have been granted a rank. When one has a rank one is addressed by rank in both professional and social situations. E.g., a physician is addressed Dr. (name) while seeing patients (present as a licensed medical professional) at the hospital. On weekends, when he is washing his car in his driveway (not present as a doctor) he’s ALSO addressed as ‘Dr. (name)’.

– Robert Hickey  How to Address a Chiropractor   How to Address an Optometrist How to Address an Osteopath


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.
___What I don’t cover on this site are many things I do cover in my book: all the rules of forms of address, about names, international titles, precedence, complimentary closes, details on invitations, place cards, all sorts of introductions, etc. I hope you’ll get a copy of the book if you’d like the further detail.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”