Nursing Conflicts

A conflict refers to a disagreement arising between two or more people as a result of differences in opinions, goals, interests, beliefs, and attitudes (Kearney-Nunnery, 2016). More so, conflicts are common in places where interactions of individuals are inevitable, such as workplaces. One of the examples of a workplace where conflicts are likely to occur is a hospital setting since there are extensive interactions between people. Therefore, these require effective resolving of the issues. Conflict resolution refers to the methods and processes involved in finding a peaceful solution to a disagreement between parties to improve the state and status of the working environment as well as facilitate the achievement of common goals (Hamric, 2014). However, the process of negotiating conflicts is faced with numerous challenges. This essay discusses the difficulties encountered in handling conflicts and explains a situation whereby the misunderstanding existed between a nurse and an administrator and how it was resolved by the application of some of the 12 conflict resolution skills.

In a healthcare providing institution, the resolving of conflicts among the healthcare team is crucial since if left unresolved, they may lead to reduced organizational commitment that, in turn, results in a poor quality of care for the patients (Catalano, 2015). The unwillingness to negotiate is one of the biggest challenges that hamper the process of conflict resolution. As much as the mediator may apply all the skills of conflict resolution, the efforts become futile if one or both of the parties are not willing to resolve the issue. Further, power imbalances impede the resolution process in situations where one party is more superior to the other and is not willing to come down to the level of the junior for purposes of resolving the disputable question (Kearney-Nunnery, 2016). In such a situation, the mediators have to ensure that the skills such as a win-win strategy and the use of cooperative power are well utilized so that the superior individual does not feel threatened by his or her junior.

In one medical facility under consideration, a conflict which involved the organization administrator and the nurse responsible for night duties emerged. The main source of the conflict was the inability of the nurse to meet the work expectations as laid down by the administrator. In the majority of the instances, the administrator complained that the night duty nurse carried out her duties in a much-disorganized manner and left the working station in a confusing and chaotic state in the morning. On the other hand, the nurse insisted that the night duties were very demanding, with increased emergency cases that resulted in the work piling as stated by the administrator. Further, the nurse reported that she was already trying the best she could and was ready to forward the issue to the body governing the nurses in case she got pushed beyond her abilities. Anyway, her defensive attitude angered the administrator, further aggravating the conflict.

The worsening situation necessitated the intervention of the guidance and counseling department who became the mediators in resolving the conflict. Firstly, both the nurse and the administrator were made to understand that they were working towards the shared goals of the institution hence were partners and not competitors. This enabled the administrator to come down to the level of the nurse and discuss the ways to transform the heavy workload into manageable work pieces. Among the solutions was to increase the number of healthcare providers in the night shift to relieve the nurse some of the duties. In the resolution of the conflict, the two parties addressed the problem and not one individual, and at one moment they both apologized to each other for having approached the situation as a personal issue. Further, the nurse expressed the disappointment that the administrator failed to honor their pay rise agreement after five years of hard work, a factor that subjected her to frustrations in the course of duty.

Consequently, the administrator accepted that the claims of the nurse were valid and explained her the financial difficulties the organization was going through, the factor that contributed to the delayed salary increase. Having laid all the underlying issues for discussion, the three parties, i.e., the mediators, the nurse and the administrator, came up with solutions to address the causes of the conflict. Among the solutions was increasing the number of night shift health providers, moving the nurse to the daytime shift to break the monotony, as well the amendment of the terms of payment. On her part, the nurse promised to work on managing her emotions that at times resulted in the use of inappropriate language to the administrator. In the end, all parties were satisfied and set to put more extra efforts into the achievement of the common organizational goals.

In addition, the successful conflict resolution was made possible by the application of skills such as a win-win approach, creative response, use of empathy, cooperative power and the management of emotions (Conflict Resolution Network, 2015). Further, the willingness to resolve the underlying issues surrounding the conflict facilitated coming up with creative solutions to the conflict that would guarantee a favorable working environment.


Kearney-Nunnery, R. (2016). Advancing your career: Concepts of professional nursing (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis Company.

Hamric, A. B., Hanson, C. M., Tracy, M. F., & O’Grady, E. T. (2014). Advanced practice nursing: An integrative approach (5th ed.). St Louis, MO: Elsevier.

Conflict Resolution Network. (2015). 12 skills summary.

Catalano, J. T. (2015). Nursing now!: Today’s issues, tomorrow’s trends (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis Company.