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Doctors MUST Use the Name Listed on Their Medical License – It is the Law

Written by Sarah Lim, CA Lic# 0M52397

Doctors MUST Use the Name Listed on Their Medical License – It is the Law

Honesty goes a long way in patient-doctor relationships.  Not only does this honesty apply to when patients are talking about their health; it also applies to the name doctors use to practice medicine.  Doctors must be aware that they are legally required to obtain a Fictitious Name Permit (FNP) if they want to use a name other than what is on their license.  The Fictitious Name Permit allows the doctor to practice medicine under a different name.   

It is important to note that all name changes must be reported to the Medical Board of California within 30 days with the doctor providing both the old and new names.  The following are examples of situations where the Fictitious Name Permit would be required (please note that the names used in the following examples do not refer to any real person): 

·      Legal Name Change – A doctor whose name is listed as Dr. Anne Kathryn Anders on  her medical license cannot practice as Kathryn Anders, even though this is the name she usually goes by.  In order to do this, she must legally change her name.  She must then show proof of the name change by presenting to the Board, a current government issued photo ID like a drivers license, passport, or alien registration along with a certified court order, marriage certificate, or dissolution of marriage.  Afterwards, the Board will change the name on her medical license to the new legal name.

·      Nicknames – A physician cannot shorten his or her name to make it easier to spell or pronounce without going through the legal process to formally change their name to the nickname.

·      Marriage Change – If a physician’s name legally changes due to marriage, he or she cannot continue practicing under the original name.  Evidence of the legal name change must be presented to the Board so that the name on the physician’s license can be changed to the newly adopted legal name.  The same also applies to a couple adopting a hyphenated last name. 

There is no fee to change a name on the license.  However, there is a fee to receive a new wall certificate or wallet license.  For this, an application called Application for Duplicate Certificate needs to be completed and submitted with the appropriate fees.