Listening to Patti and David Skolnik speak about their late son Michael really brought to light how failures in communication can have devastating consequences. Though there were many missteps in the handling of Michael’s case, one area of concern that really stood out was the failure in communication between Michael’s family doctor and his neurosurgeon. Despite the family doctor’s unease that the surgery was being performed unnecessarily, the surgeon quickly diminished those concerns on the basis that the family doctor was “just a GP.” We often discuss how interprofessional collaboration and shared decision making with patients are lacking, but too often we forget that even within our own professions, there are many problems that can create tension and conflict and ultimately result in poor patient care. How can we work with patients and other professions, if we can’t work together within our own groups. I’ve witnessed this all too often during my first year as a medical student. Most within the medical field quickly split into the two camps of surgery or medicine. But there is a deeper lack of mutual respect that permeates the entire field. I’ve heard classmates and preceptors of mine make comments about specialties like emergency medicine and psychiatry for being “imprecise” and “not real medicine” respectively. Others have told me that surgeons for being “mechanics.” Different medical opinions aside, it is no wonder that we struggle to coordinate patient care, especially with such a culture.
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