Posts Tagged ‘How to Use Post-nominal Abbreviations’

I have a Doctor of Medicine degree, Master of Science in Technical Management, Master of Science in Chemistry, and Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry.  I have only ever used: MY NAME, MD.  I see other physicians using THEIR NAME, MD, MS to include the fact that they have a master’s degree.  Which is correct?

I am a holistic health practitioner (HHP), certified aromatherapist (cert aroma), registered aromatherapist (RA), master herbalist (MH), licensed massage therapist (LMT) and esthetician (LE).
      Should my name on my business card be (Full Name), HHP, cert aroma, MH, LMT, LE, RA?

Dear KTW & HHP:
Two issues here:
  (1) What is pertinent to your clients? 
On their business card (and other items presented to the public) individuals use the pertinent post nominals when presenting their name to the public (clients, peers, licensing agencies, etc.) so the public can know with what preparation they present themselves.
E.g., physicians include MD and professional affiliations to define their type of schooling and specialty. Both clarify to the public their credentials to offer their service. They could include another degree/certification such as a Masters in Science in Chemistry when related. But a Masters in Fashion Design might not be. Both degrees would be on their CV/resume but whether they are used with the name on a business card would depend on the service offered.
  (2) Which post-nominals will the public recognize? 
When they are yours you are very proud of every one.  But a business card is not your CV/resume.
So, when deciding which post nominals to include, you should also ask: are what the post nominals stand for common knowledge?
If they are not, it may be better just to list the services you offer e.g, “Holistic Health Practitioner” “Master Herbalist”  “Aromatherapy” and “Licensed Massage Therapist” on your card — and the detailed information on the on your CV/resume.
           — Robert Hickey


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I am a calligrapher who is writing wedding invitation envelopes for a couple who has a form-of-address question: A married couple who both use the husband’s surname is being invited.  The woman is a recent medical school graduate.  The man will be graduating from medical school within a few weeks after the date of the wedding.
How should the couple be addressed on the envelopes of the invitation?
      — KNR 

Dear KNR:
        1) Officially one only has any degree when one has the diploma in hand.
        2) People with “Dr.” have higher precedence than people who are “Mr./Ms.” — unless the “Mr./Ms.” is actually the intended guest and the “Dr.” is being included only as a courtesy to the “Mr./Ms.”  In that case the higher precedence is granted to the intended guest.
But for this I will assume they are being invited equally … so … she is higher.
So most formally it would be:
                Dr. Cynthia Wilson
                and Mr. Thomas Wilson
Inside envelope use:
                Dr. and Mr. Wilson
If this sort of thing comes up often, I cover this in my book.
In Chapter 9: Joint Forms of Address, on page 141 I show the variations of ‘Doctors’ in couples … for both those using the same surname and different surnames.
     – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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     I completed an Executive MBA in Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing, and hold a RMC certification as a Registered Medical Coder.  I do not want to come across to formal on my business card, however find that it may be something that can differentiate me from others as I am with a biotech company.
Should it be abbreviated as EMBA or just MBA?  Second, should I list it as EMBA or MBA, RMC?  Or, do you have a better suggestion all together?
             – Tim M.

         What is the appropriate way to abbreviate the masters degree granted by Air University?  It is titled, Master of Military Operational Art and Science.  At first I thought it would truly be a Masters of Science, but even the accrediting institution refer to it as titled.  Therefore, the most common MS will not do.  Would it be a MMOAS?
        — Jason S.

My Master’s Degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution was recently conferred and also have been certified as a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator. What would be the proper way to list both after my name?
        — Marie M.

Dear Tim, Jason & Marie:
    What to post-nominal to use? The post-nominal abbreviations for degrees vary by the tradition of the granting institution. For example, if certain institution offers both MBA and Executive MBA they might make the distinction between an MBA and an EMBA. Call the Dean’s office and ask. Someone there will know what most graduates use … or will know how to find out.
  When you want to include more information? On your resume you can include every detail. But sometimes people want to be more specific [on a business card or e-mail signature block] when a degree/certification qualifies them to offer a particular professional service. Whether they abbreviate it or spell it out depends on for whom the post nominal is included?  Other professionals might know the abbreviation.  But will the public know the meaning of the string of initials and it would be better to list it fully?
  What should I include and what should I leave off? What you use on your card or e-mail signature block should be about clarifying to the reader who you are to them / how you may be of service to them. It is not a presentation of your complete resume.
 Who will notice what you do? It will be your peers (those holding the same degree) and the granting institution’s faculty and staff who will be your harshest critics if you use something they don’t like. I truth, the rest of us don’t care so much precisely the letters you use for your earned degrees. We’re too focused on our own post-nominals!
                    — Robert Hickey

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I am doing a presentation on the many post nominals in the medical and nursing fields and what they stand for. There are several and for our nursing convention I am conducting a focus session at our annual nursing convention next week on this subject including the which post nominals to use and correct order to present post nominals. Would you happen to have that information?
   — Monica, RN, BSN

I have been an RN for 15 years, and work in the healthcare industry as a home health regional preceptor.  I completed my BS in Health Sciences with a minor in Business Management in 2009, and have just received my Master’s in Healthcare Administration degree. I also hold certifications as an OASIS specialist and Homecare Coding Specialist, both required for my job.
I have read that the educational degrees should be listed first, followed by licensure credentials since these may not be permanent, followed by any certifications. Following this, I would list my name and post nominals as Tina Atkins, MHA, BS, RN, COS-C, HCS-D.  I have observed many of my colleagues with multiple post nominals still putting their RN designation first, followed by the educational achievements.  In that case, mine would be listed as Tina Atkins, RN, MHA, BS, COS-C, HCS-D. 
Are either of those correct, or should it be listed in another format?
   — Tina

Dear Monica & Tina,
When I started my book I thought I would include a list of every post-nominal abbreviation in the world and what each meant. But I soon realized there are so many post nominals inso many fields any list would always be incomplete. Plus, I found that if you put any mysterious post-nominal abbreviation into any search engine … the answer was instantly there.
Thus I decided to focus on how they are used … not what could be used.
On page 100 of my book I cover how to correctly sequent all types of post nominals(academic degrees, decorations, honorary degrees, professional associations & affiliations, religious orders, theological degrees, etc., etc., etc.).  In your case here’s the pertinent sequence that I often see with nurses:
            First Academic Degrees
            Then Professional Licenses — RN is a professional license.
            Then Professional Certifications
            Then Professional Associations & Affiliations
If you have more than one in a category place them high to low, and you feel they are equal put them in alphabetical order.
I see you both use or consider to list RN first then your academic degree. It’s not the order typically see, so if you have a source that suggests that order — I would love to see it.
 And finally, there is also a frequently cited ‘rule’ that you should not include more than three post nominals after your name. That’s a good guideline.  But, often people ultimately decide on what to include depending on what is directly pertinent to the service they are offering.
              — Robert Hickey

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I have a Doctor of Medicine degree, Master of Science in Technical Management, Master of Science in Chemistry, and BS in Biochemistry.  I have only ever used MY NAME, MD.  I see other physicians using THEIR NAME, MD, MS to identify the fact that they have a master’s degree.  Which is correct?

I am a retired architect with the status of Emeritus Architect. I write a lot of apologetics on the Christian faith since I have taught Bible studies for 30 years while yet practicing architecture.
Is is proper to sign these apologetics as: Daniel P. Strasburg, Emeritus Architect  – or is that not correct?
— Daniel P. Strasburg

Dear KTW & Mr. Strasburg:
Individuals use just the highest and most pertinent post nominals when presenting their name to the general public.
Medical professionals in practice include MD and professional affiliations to define their specialty. They also include anything else that clarifies to the public their credentials to offer their service.
So a Masters in Science in Chemistry definitely seems related … and might be pertinent … as might your other Masters degree. Both would definitely be on your CV/resume but whether they are used with your name on a business card would depend what service you are providing.
An Architect Emeritus would not seem pertinent for an author of an article on the Bible.  If you want to include this honor … include it in your bio where it appears elsewhere in the publication (sometimes they feature authors in the front of a publication, or give a brief bio at the end of the story), not as a part of your name in the by-line.
So use the pertinent post-nominal credentials to explain to a person reading your name … what credentials you have … that are useful to them … to establish your credibility to be their expert.
           – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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A couple of years ago I completed a lateral thinking course throughtheschoolofthinking.org. I found it very thought provoking and useful. Recently that site has advertised a Masters and a Doctorate in Lateral Thinking. It’s an on-line free training. It’s a lot of work, probably similar to the amount required in a university-level Masters.
They state that graduates would be able to use the post nominals MLT or DLT, forMaster of Lateral Thinking and Doctor of Lateral Thinking. Bear in mind that this is not an accredited college or a university. I realize that there is no post-nominal policehunting people down, but what is the accepted practice for Masters and Doctorates? Does an organization like that have the ‘right’ to offer such post nominals, given they are usually bestowed upon graduates of universities?
— Ross Robinson

Dear Mr. Robinson:
       1. Can you use it? People can present their name however they wish to present their name. So, yes, you could use MLT or DLT.
      2. When can you use it? Degrees are typically credentials pertinent to providing a service.  Post nominals are only included on the official/professional form of your name — not the social form. So if you are including them on your resume the question is for what job, for what service, are these degrees pertinent? What field recognizes these degrees to be of value?
       3. Where can you use it? Degrees have the most value where they are issued — or in places which recognize the certification.  E.g., medical degrees granted by many international schools of medicine are not necessarily recognized in the USA. Some are, some are not. Accredited institutions of higher learning pretty much accept one another’s credits, but for anyone who has tried to have credits transferred knows it is not automatic.
So, an on-line, free degree may be principally of value for personal growth and of the most pertinence in cyberspace.
          – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I hold a few degrees and am about to receive an honorary doctorate. How do I indicate the doctorate with my name. I currently have BBA, B.Th, and an MRE. The doctorate will be in Theology.
— Marc Coffee

Dear Mr. Coffee:
Honorary doctorates are not noted in direct address, so will not be addressed asDr. (Name).  And the honorary degree’s post-nominal abbreviation is not listed (with your name) with the degrees you earned.
Honorary doctorates are listed as an honor or award on your resume, rather than part of education with academic degrees. In a complete introduction it would be stated that “Marc Coffey received an honorary Doctorate in Theology from …”
       It’s a great honor, but it is an honor, not a degree.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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