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“Why aren’t you doing what we want?” Cultivating collegiality and communication between specialist and generalist physicians and residents
  1. Christy A Rentmeester
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr C A Rentmeester
 Center for Health Policy and Ethics, Creighton University Medical Center, 2500 California Plaza, Omaha, NE 68178-0409, USA; christyrentmeester{at}


Developing residents’ communication skills has been a goal of residency training programmes since the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education codified it as a core competency. In this article, a case that features problematic communication between a generalist and specialist physician is drawn upon, and it is suggested how their communication might become open and effective through a practice of reason exchange. This is a practice of giving reasons, listening to reasons given by others, evaluating reasons and deciding which particulars of situations constitute reasons to act and reasons how to act. Drawing on recent literature in teaching communication to radiology residents, it is proposed that practices of reason exchange are part of the skill set generally referred to as “negotiation skills” that should be cultivated in all residents. Particularly, in cases in which generalist and specialist physicians disagree about the reasons to do something, not do something or do something this way or that way, how well physicians are trained to practice reason exchange depends on whether they can communicate effectively and negotiate disagreement collegially.

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  • i Thanks to an anonymous reviewer, whose suggestions helped me clarify these distinctions among different specialist consultant clinicians.

  • Competing interests: None.

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