How to address medical staff

I see my doctor rarely - usually as a check prior to renewing a prescription every 6 months. I’ve now been transferred to a different practitioner in the same clinic. Her full title is Infirmier en pratique avancée which seems to be a half-way house between nurse and doctor - please correct me if you know better…

When I see the Doctor, I initially address her (rightly or wrongly!) as Docteur before switching to her first name (as she asked me to do).

How should I address my new practitioner? I’ve got a few ideas of my own but I’d like to get it right at our first meeting. :slightly_smiling_face:

This is just one link… there’s quite a lot of 'em on the web…

As I understand things… the IPA is highly trained, but Not a Doctor… therefore calling her “Docteur” would not be correct… (??)
Personally, I would call her “Madame”… which covers all females (except for youngsters… :wink: )

and, being me… I’d certainly discuss her role with her… as I find this very interesting…

1 Like

Therein lies the rub… When does one stop being a youngster? The person in question is probably in her late 20s (so seems like a youngster to me|)

Nope… I reckon Madame is the correct word… and it became so a while ago, I seem to recall.

The youngsters I was talking about… are the ones still at school/college… ?
Not someone who has left college and completed several years of specialist training…

(“it’s not for any of us to presume/question the marital status…”… I believe this was the reasoning behind the “muting” of mademoiselle … )

1 Like

It certainly was a while… this link from 2022 tells us it was 10 years ago…

"Mademoiselle": dix ans après la circulaire qui déconseille son emploi, où en est l'utilisation de ce terme?.

When our original doctor retired and was replaced by a female I got in the habit of calling her Docteur Sophie, because her surname was long and double barrelled, presumably marriage, and she was perfectly fine with that.

All the aide soignantes who visit Fran carry little badges with their prenoms on though sometimes hard to read with old eyes and one has to be careful when squinting at a female breast. :astonished: :rofl:
The aides de toilette do not have uniforms or badges and have always introduced themselves by prenom.

The ASs address us formally, whereas the ATs by our first names. All a bit confusing especially with Christelle, the one who comes for 2 hours once a week to do the cleaning. That is far too long but I welcome it because we have the chance to have long friendly and joky chats in French, yet, though allowing me to tutoyer her she insists on vouvoying me.

I didn’t realise about the Mamselle thing until quite recently although I have never used it myself I think, but if they are so uptight as to whether they are married or not, might they not stop wearing wedding rings? :thinking: I took my own decision over 50 years ago not to wear one, and never have. :slightly_smiling_face: Nor any other kind of jewelery, but I do have a plastic whistle hanging round my neck, should I really be marking myself out as a dog owner? :roll_eyes: :joy:

Unless one is told differently by the person concerned… calling someone “Madame” is being polite… (at least that’s my understanding) :wink:


Excellent. I’ll start by addressing her as Madame and asking if that is correct!

1 Like

Madame in this context is an honorific, rather than a judgement on marital status. But you can just as easily use nothing.

My female MT is old school so I address her as Madame Docteur X because it makes me laugh.

And as the Readers Digest always told us; “Laughter is the best medicine” :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

Madame is pretty much for any adult female I think. Certainly if over 21.

It’s got to the point where if addressed as Mlle, particularly by an older male, I look out for it being patronising/insulting.

Wondering now if I did catch my doctor giving a bit of a grin when I first met her and addressed her as Mme le docteur [surname]. I think one can just call them "Docteur [surname] can’t one? or have I got that wrong…

I’m pretty sure it’s safe to address your MT as Docteur (nom).

1 Like

As soon as you are old enough to go to secondary school you are officially madame.
Any admin document will call a woman or girl madame.
Obviously in informal settings people still say mademoiselle but often it is said by creeps and comes over as sleazy unless you are 8.


Thanks, Vero - useful advice…

Interesting, in English on the other hand Madame is not a compliment to a female child, it means she is putting on airs and graces or is being very naughty.

I think that’s the English ‘Madam’ not the French ‘Madame’.

Pronounced differently, as no e at the end.

As Vero says…
talking to youngsters in informal settings (like our village), is somewhat different to talking to young-adults in general…
Can’t recall any of our youngsters being called madame and we certainly don’t allow “creeps” :roll_eyes: :rofl:
but… elsewhere… it’s probably best to follow the guidelines… even if it raises a laugh…

1 Like

Strictly speaking you call everyone Monsieur or Madame (except the monarch when we had one who was Sire, and even the queen was just madame). So they are very polite suitable terms. We don’t use people’s academic titles in speech the way they do in some countries, monsieur or madame is enough. You don’t use a surname either except for a formal introduction.

Monsieur is the eldest of the king’s younger brothers, if you like history look up Monsieur le frère du Roi (brother of Louis XIV, he was quite something).


Even my 1960’s UK grammar school taught me that :wink:

1 Like