Conflict Resolution in Nursing

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22nd Apr 2019 Assignment Reference this


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Observe nurses in a care delivery setting. Identify a recurring conflict with the potential to negatively impact patient care. Decide if delegation was an issue in the conflict. This should be from your practice setting or prelicensure experiences.

Improving team work in an organization and especially in a medical care center is very essential for human resource productivity and the entire growth and performance of the organization. The effectiveness of team work can be achieved through collaboration, coordination, and conflict resolution (Finkelman, 2016). The deficit in these three virtues of effective team work in the nursing profession or the medical service industry presents great risk exposure and a threat to the lives of human beings or the patients.  The medical service industry and in particular nursing is one that is highly exposed to conflicts due to high degrees of concentration required and engagement of the human resources. The possible effects of working in a largely engaging environment and that high demand level of concentration are distress and feelings of depression. Such working conditions are a perfect recipe for blending conflict within the organization. Working conditions that present high conflict exposures require management and leadership approach that has clarity in communication and coordination, one that has firm structures that encourage work collaboration and one that is able and capable of effectively managing conflict in the organization.

It is, however, important to point out that many conflicts that arise in the medical service industry and especially in public facilities are as a result of poor delegation of work by the management (Finkelman, 2016). As a result, there are almost countless and documented cases of losses on the part of the patient which is either death or severity of the patient’s condition all emanating from negligence caused by poor delegation

In my view, one of the most frequent and recurrent conflicts as far as nursing is concerned is shift woes. The work conditions for nursing demands nurses to work round the clock. In essence, patients must be attended to throughout the time and thus meaning segregation of duties based on times. Nurses work in shifts; there are those who take the night duties and those assigned to day duties and therefore working at different times in the same work stations. In such working environment, for instance, one nurse may feel that his or her counterpart is not doing enough for the patient who requires attendance during day and night. He or she may feel that shoddy and disorganized work was done during the night which is upsetting and thus causing serious disagreements. On the other hand, the nurse responsible for the night shift may feel overwhelmed by the harsh night working conditions and therefore feel that he or she is doing so much than others. These feelings of discontentment between the nurses will ultimately erupt conflict which will apparently affect effective service delivery to the patient. Conflicts that emanate from shifts indicate a deficit in the delegation of duties. Another source of conflict regarding shift woes is poor time management between day and night shifts. During alteration, for example, the nurse on the night duty may arrive late contrary to the written procedures of work hence causing delay and overworking of the nurse at day shift. This can lead to poor service delivery to the patient by the irritated and delayed nurse and thus waging conflict.

Provide details of what happened, including who was involved, what was said, where it occurred, and what was the outcome that led you to decide the conflict was unresolved.

Personally, I have witnessed conflict in a similar scenario as outlined above in Florida state hospital in the inpatient emergency department where front nurses are responsible for receiving the inpatient patients that require emergency attendances and first aids. In this case, the conflict was triggered by persistence in the late coming of the nurses on the night shift which led to transpiration of a lot of non-performance issues when conflict erupted. For the occasional times I have ever attended the Florida state hospital on day ours, the observation of things indicate a seamless flow of operations, however, this day was my first to attend to the hospital in the evening and things seemed unusual to my sight. Contrary to my expectation to the inpatient emergency department, there seemed work go-slow. It didn’t last long before two groups of nurses furiously engaged each other in a battle that claimed irresponsibility on the part of the night shift nurses who were accused of poor service delivery, negligence, and poor time management. On the other hand, in their argument, the night shift nurses claimed that the reason for them being late for their duty is that the night duty is so engaging and tougher as opposed to the day duty and thus the night shift nurses required some more time to rest and prepare for the tough work at night.  This led me to understand the reason for the unusual look of things. The standoff between the nurses lasted for minutes before the night shift nurses took over their role. The criticality of the situation was that there was no one like the night supervisor to arbitrate the conflicting parties which left the patients with no other options other to take up the role reconciling the groups.  

Identify the type of conflict. Explain your rationale for selecting this type.

The kind of conflict illustrated in the scenario is intergroup conflict. Intergroup conflict is one which emanates from misunderstanding between various groups within an organization. The case of the stand-off between the two groups of nurses points out misunderstanding as the cause of conflict. The two groups of nurses have negative attitude towards each other, and each party believes that it is right to its actions which make it difficult to resolve the rivalry within themselves.

Outline the four stages of the conflict, as described in our text, and how they relate to your example.

Understanding of the stages of conflict is very important to the organizations as it helps them to avoid conflict and develop lasting conflict resolutions. As such there are tentatively five stages of conflict, however, some authors like Finkelman can be compressed them to four. Conflict stages encompass; the latent stage or potential, perceived or cognition stage, felt or intention stage, behavior and outcome stages (Finkelman, 2016).

The latent stage is the first stage of conflict development (Bercovitch, 2008). At this stage, opportunities for conflict are developed at three conditions; communication, structure and personal variables. Different people in the organization perceive communication differently; some may not be pleased by the connotations of the word in communication and thus channeling conflict. The structure of the organization may trigger conflict through things such as the reward programs and the leadership styles employed in the organization. Also, personalities which are dogmatic and authoritarian are critical elements that are potential to develop conflict within an organization. The management structure of Florida state hospital is more likely to be condition behind the nurses’ conflict. There are ineffective internal controls regarding supervision and management of the human resources in the two shifts, that is, day and night which entirely complicates communication of concerns by the two groups of nurses.

Cognition and personalization stage is when the conflict becomes real, known and ceases to be a secret anymore (Bercovitch, 2008). This is through communication breakdown where people don’t want to talk to each other, anger expression which could be in the form of raised voices. This is evident when the Florida state hospital nurses on day shift confront their night shift colleagues, and each party lays their issues clear to each other.

The third stage of conflict development is the intention. At this stage, parties may compete intending to satisfy their desires irrespective of the consequences on the other parties to the conflict. This is the way between the two conflicting nurses groups in Florida state hospital. Each group is competing to air out its grievances and win the situation.

The aftermath stage is the last stage in conflict development. This is the stage of the outcome of the conflict. The outcome may be dysfunctional thus hindering employees’ performance, or the outcome may enhance the performance of the employees.

Propose strategies to resolve the conflict. Search scholarly sources in the library and the Internet for evidence on what may be effective.

The discussion is one of the most effective conflict resolution strategies. Discussion should be triggered by a neutral party such as the management to fairly address the issues of both parties. In most cases, it is challenging for two conflicting parties to solve the challenges within them, in such a case, mediation effected by a neutral party becomes one of the best strategy (, 2017). However, if the parties hold strong hand lines against each other, they should be asked to compromise to solve the matter.

Discuss if delegation was an issue in the conflict. Be specific.

A delegation of duties in Florida state hospital was an issue as it lacked to effectively harmonize the working conditions and services of the two groups of nurses. Also, there was a deficit in the delegation of supervision and management of the alternating shifts.

Describe how you would collaborate with a nurse leader to reach consensus on the best strategy to employ to deal with the conflict.

I would collaborate with nurse leader through providing advice on discussion as the best strategy to ensure conflict resolution. The discussion will allow a better understanding of the issue of conflict and the contributing factors which would lead effective conflict resolution. I would also advise the nurse leader to strengthen the organizational internal controls to ensure effective time management.

Describe the rationale for selecting the best strategy.

The strategy should be in line with organizational policies and guidelines on conflict management. The conflict resolution strategy selected should as well demonstrate fairness and justice to the conflicting parties in addition to adding effectiveness to the performance of the organization.

Provide a summary or conclusion about this experience or assignment and how you may deal with conflict more effectively in the future.

Every organization with employees is exposed to conflict. The most important thing as far as conflict is concerned is the preparedness of the organization in conflict management. One way to bring about effective conflict management is developing structures, policies, and procedures that guide the operations of the organization; this will prevent issues such as poor time management and irresponsibility. Moreover, the organization needs to develop a collaborative culture and team spirit as well as effective coordination system which are essential in preventing conflict within the organization. This is the approach that Florida state hospital should undertake in conflict management.


  • Bercovitch, J., Kremenyuk, V., & Zartman, I. W. (Eds.). (2008). The SAGE handbook of conflict resolution. Sage.
  • Finkelman, A. (2016). Leadership and management for nurses: Core Competencies for quality care (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson
  • Lewicki, R. J., Weiss, S. E., & Lewin, D. (1992). Models of conflict, negotiation and third party intervention: A review and synthesis. Journal of organizational behavior, 13(3), 209-252.
  • (2017). Five Types of Conflict Resolution Strategies. [online] Available at:

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