Nurses, however, are unique in the directions that potential conflict comes from: managers, nursing colleagues, doctors, ancillary staff, as well as patients and their families. In other words for the nurse, workplace conflict is not just a hazard from colleagues and other medical professionals in the workplace, but also as a regular component of providing patient care.
Nurses provide patient care amongst all of the conflicting experiences, feelings, and beliefs experienced by their patients and the friends and family of those patients. In addition, fellow nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff may also have different experiences, feelings, and beliefs which can influence workplace interactions. It is seemingly impossible that, in the regular course of a shift, a nurse would not experience at least one incident of conflict. The challenge for both nurses and hospital administration is to ensure that, as much as possible, nurses are equipped with the communication and conflict management skills needed to navigate the potential conflicts while effectively caring for their patients.
Patient Related Conflict
Oftentimes interaction with patients and families comes at a time when those they are attempting to care for are at their worst. This setting is ripe for workplace conflict.
Nurses are there. They respond at the press of a button. They seem to possess the ability to comfort, to educate, and to treat. However, it is not uncommon for the anger, frustration, and fear felt by the patients and families to be triggered by and targeted towards nurses. This is especially true when they are unable to remove the discomfort (physical or emotional) experienced by those in the room.
- Read more about Nurse – Patient Related Conflict
Hospital Workplace Conflict
Some of the workplace conflict experienced by nurses in a hospital setting is inevitable – in many ways it is part of providing patient care. In addition, the more common disputes between colleagues, with supervisors, and the hospital as an employer are to be expected as in any employer organization.
Nurses will always have to address conflict in the workplace. Although it cannot be prevented, nurses can learn to effectively cope with and respond to the workplace conflict. Hospital management should ensure that nurses receive the communication and conflict management skill training needed to address employer and patient related conflicts effectively.
Targeted conflict management and communication training can drastically assist nurses in responding to the non-medical needs of their patients, as well as better resolve other problematic workplace issues.
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