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The Conflict Resolution and Moral Distress in Nursing

It could hardly be doubted that conflicts in the workplace have a considerably negative impact on the overall efficiency of any given organization. This assumption is particularly accurate when applied to clinical environments, in which healthcare workers largely responsible for the health and life of their patients, and yet nurses have to deal with the same variety of modern-day problems that affect their resilience and provoke conflicts (Hart, Brannan, & De Chesnay, 2014). The elimination of conflict situations and their negative impact is one of the most important goals of contemporary nursing leaders and workers. The purpose of this paper is to observe and analyze an experienced workplace conflict in detail in order to identify the best strategies for conflict resolution as well as directions for future practice.

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Observation of the Experienced Conflict

First of all, it is essential to give a brief overview of the experienced conflict before dwelling upon more particular details and aspects. It is essential to notice that the described conflict situation comes from personal prelicensure experiences in a hospital setting in Miami. In general, it should be stated that the conflict had a recurring nature because it was based on moral distress and job dissatisfaction, which resulted in nurses’ decreased ability to care for patients as they were preoccupied with their problems. Another aspect of the conflict situation that will be discussed is that I was in the position of an observant since at the time, a volunteered in the hospital and thus was not deeply involved in interpersonal relationships in the workplace.

Detailed Description of the Experienced Conflict

Since the conflict had a recurring nature, it is possible to exemplify various instances of it. However, the most typical situation was the following. Primarily it involved nurses and nursing coordinators, and conflict situations happened in the hospital during nurses’ shifts, especially at night. Usually, a nurse refused to complete particular tasks on his or her shift, arguing with the nursing coordinator that he or she does not feel that their job is worth doing it and that they are too stressed out to perform all of their tasks properly. It is obvious that such situations had a negative impact on nursing and patient outcomes in the clinical environment. Also, I consider this conflict unresolved because the management of the hospital did not employ any concise intervention or policy to resolve the conflict.

The Four Stages of Conflict

Outline of the Four Stages of Conflict

Four stages of conflict represent a theoretical framework for analyzing the process of conflict development. The first stage is Latent, in which future participants of the conflict are not aware of the existence of the potentially controversial situation. The second Perceived stage refers largely to the conflict itself: the participants are fully aware of it, and the confrontation occurs. The third Felt stage represents the feelings of stress, anxiety, dissatisfaction, and resentment, which are provoked by the participation in the conflict situation. Finally, the Manifest stage refers to a phase in which the conflict could be observed by its participants in order to retrieve meaningful conclusions and develop an intervention or solution for the conflict.

The Relation between the Conflict Stages and the Example

As the four stages of conflict are outlined, it is essential to investigate the relation between them and the particular experienced situation provided in the previous sections. It could be suggested that I did not have a chance to observe the Latent stage since the process of nurse burnout and cumulation of moral distress had happened before my volunteering experience (Allen & Butler, 2016). However, the Perceived stage was presented evidently since there were numerous occasions in which nurses in the hospital expressed their dissatisfaction with the amount of work and their self-worth as healthcare workers. The Felt stage was also observed due to the apparent manifestations of negative feelings associated with the conflict situation. Nevertheless, the Manifest stage was not reached as there was no particular decision on how to resolve the conflict.

Delegation as a Conflict Issue

The role of delegation as a driving factor of conflict situations could not be overlooked. It is possible to suggest that in the particular situation, which is described in this paper, the delegation could be considered the part of the issue. Since many nurses felt that they do not receive enough credit for their work or that the amount of work is too big or difficult for them, they neglected some of their responsibilities. Later, when they were asked by managers about the reasons why some tasks were incomplete, they delegated these responsibilities to other nurses. Additionally, I also experienced delegation as several times; some nurses asked me to perform activities for which they were initially responsible.

Strategies for Conflict Resolution

Further, it is essential to discuss strategies for efficient conflict resolution. It is possible to state that the academic literature on the topic is vastly concerned with the topic of conflict resolution, and thus it is possible to retrieve various approaches proposed by scholars. For example, the article by Twigg and McCullough (2014) provides distinct guidelines for the creation and enhancement of positive practice environments in clinical settings. The author mentions the following strategies: nurse participation in hospital affairs, developing nursing foundations for quality care as well as nurse manager ability, leadership and support of nurses, staffing and resource adequacy, and collaborative nurse-physician relationships (Twigg & McCullough, 2014).

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Additionally, the article by Brown et al. (2015) promotes the establishment and maintenance of efficient teamwork among nurses. The authors argue that it is one of the most effective approaches to preventing and resolving conflicts in the workplace. It is also possible to mention the research by Hart et al. (2014), in which the authors argue that resilience is one of the most important factors for the improvement of clinical environments’ working climate.

Also, it is appropriate to mention that collaboration between healthcare workers and nursing leaders is considered by the vast majority of authors as a highly significant aspect of conflict prevention and resolution. The positive impact that could be potentially brought by an efficient nursing leader is positively valued by Twigg and McCullough (2014). The authors argue that the implementation of evidence-based interventions supported by the employment of theoretical frameworks has a vast potential for the improvement of current hospital settings’ conditions.

Summary of the Experienced Conflict and Future Directions

In conclusion, it should be stated that the conflict that was described in this paper is a highly important experience for me as a healthcare professional. The importance of working toward mutual goals and resolving conflict situations in a timely manner is of high importance in any clinical environment. For future directions, I consider using my experience and support from academic literature on the topic in order to resolve emerging conflicts in the workplace.


Allen, R., & Butler, E. (2016). Addressing moral distress in critical care nurses: A pilot study. Int J Crit Care Emerg Med, 2(2), 1-6.

Brown, J. B., Ryan, B. L., Thorpe, C., Markle, E. K., Hutchison, B., & Glazier, R. H. (2015). Measuring teamwork in primary care: Triangulation of qualitative and quantitative data. Families, Systems, & Health, 33(3), 193-202.

Hart, P. L., Brannan, J. D., & De Chesnay, M. (2014). Resilience in nurses: An integrative review. Journal of Nursing Management, 22(6), 720-734.

Twigg, D., & McCullough, K. (2014). Nurse retention: a review of strategies to create and enhance positive practice environments in clinical settings. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 51(1), 85-92.

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