This paper discusses an argument between a nurse and a physician that appeared because of the patient’s desire to be assessed by the caregiver. It suggests the possible way of its elimination according to the Twelve Skills of conflict resolution. The paper reflects on the actions the involved parties can take to prevent the adverse outcomes of the dispute and discusses the issues they should take into consideration.
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Relationships between nurses and other healthcare providers may not be simple because they often involve conflicts. There are various reasons behind them including physician dominance, violence and bullying, lack of trust and respect, work-related stress, and competency issues (Faisal, 2017). This paper presents a discussion of the conflict between a nurse and a physician. The patient, a 58-year old woman of Indian background, was in the hospital for abdominal cramps.
When she learned that the physician is male, she asked if the nurse could examine her and order necessary treatment without his assistance. The caregiver could not prescribe medications without the doctor’s authorization, so she asked to assign the patient to a female medical practitioner instead. The male physician was furious because, in his opinion, the patient and the nurse were doubting his professionalism. The woman, however, had made such a request because of her cultural background.
The disputes caused by anger and frustration are among the primary types of conflicts between the hospital’s staff (Jerng et al., 2017). To eliminate adverse outcomes of the arguments, healthcare providers may utilize the Twelve Skills of conflict resolution suggested by the Conflict Resolution Network (2018). These skills include the win-win approach, empathy, co-operative power, creative response, willingness to resolve, appropriate assertiveness, mapping the conflict, managing emotions, negotiation skills, development of options, third-party mediation, and broadening perspectives (The Conflict Resolution Network, 2018).
The win-win approach is designed to shift the conflict from attack and defense to co-operation. It implies the recognition of differences between individuals involved in the dispute (The Conflict Resolution Network, 2018). In the presented conflict, the nurse can ask a male physician what the best solution for him is. She should underline that his professional competencies are not doubtful and ask what his needs are. When the physician and the nurse describe the problem from their point of view, it would be easier for them to eliminate negative emotions.
The creative response approach allows us to see problems as opportunities (The Conflict Resolution Network, 2018). In this case, the physician can view the situation as a chance to gain education about cultural aspects that can influence patients’ decisions. For the nurse, it is an opportunity to become aware of possible outcomes of similar situations and prevent them in the future by establishing effective communication with physicians.
Empathy is a skill that allows for openness between people while engaging in active listening (The Conflict Resolution Network, 2018). In the presented conflict, both parties should get all the information about each other’s concerns by asking questions. After they had explained the problem from their perspectives, they should reflect on it and discuss the feelings they experience. Such an approach can help to reduce high emotion and allow for productive dialogue. Managing emotions by asking questions on what actions of the nurse, the doctor, or the patient have caused frustration is another skill that is necessary for ensuring positive communication outcomes.
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To implement the co-operative power approach, the parties should legitimate each other’s concerns. For example, if a physician calls the nurse unprofessional because of her decision, she can ask what competencies she should acquire for improvement. They can also implement the willingness to resolve an approach to estimate their attitude towards the situation (The Conflict Resolution Network, 2018). For example, in the physician’s case, he may project his self-consciousness onto the nurse and the patient, thinking that they doubt his expertise. To resolve the conflict, he needs to acknowledge his projection and work on it.
Another skill of conflict resolution is mapping (The Conflict Resolution Network, 2018). The nurse and the doctor may reflect on who is involved in the dispute, and what their needs and fears are. For example, the nurse may fear that the patient will not feel comfortable if assessed by a male practitioner.
The doctor may be concerned about the possible threat to his reputation. When the reasons for conflict are clarified, there is the development of options approach the parties can use to eliminate them (The Conflict Resolution Network, 2018). For example, they may study Indian cultural background or develop a strategy of consequence confrontation if the patient will not be assigned to a female physician.
The Conflict Resolution Network (2018) also suggests the principles of negotiation that include focusing on needs, making clear agreements, and responding instead of reacting. The physician may use them to control his emotions, and the nurse can identify whether there are ethical implications behind her decision to ask for another physician’s assistance. They can also utilize mediation methods by using a caring language and validating each other’s opinions on the case (The Conflict Resolution Network, 2018). Finally, broadening perspectives can allow the parties to become more realistic about the significance of the problem and see the impact of their decision on the patient’s satisfaction and well-being.
Arguments between nurses and other healthcare providers may be inevitable but can be solved by the methods of conflict resolution. The parties may utilize necessary communication skills to define each other’s needs and concerns and ensure positive outcomes of an argument. In the presented case, the nurse and the doctor should become aware of the personal factors affecting their behaviors, and try to consider them.
Faisal, A. (2017). Nurse-physician conflict and power dynamic. JOJ Nursing and Health Care, 5. Web.
Jerng, J. S., Huang, S. F., Liang, H. W., Chen, L. C., Lin, C. K., Huang, H. F.,… & Sun, J. S. (2017). Workplace interpersonal conflicts among the healthcare workers: Retrospective exploration from the institutional incident reporting system of a university-affiliated medical center. PloS One, 12. Web.
The Conflict Resolution Network. (2018). CR kit. Introduction – Conflict is the stuff of life. Web.