The current paper reports on the issue of conflict occurring in the medical sphere. It outlines different types of conflicts, as well as their stages and possible reasons. These dimensions are applied to the research on the basis of observing the situation, which includes confrontations between medical employees. The conflict is described and analyzed in detail in order to see the situation from different perspectives. The research is beneficial in terms of identifying the possible negative impact of such instances in the medical staff on the patient’s health, as well as the relation of delegation to the conflict. The specific case analyzed in the paper is defined to be an example of destructive conflict as it does not include the consideration of the issues presented by both sides of the conflict. The final point of the paper provides strategies, which can be employed in a particular conflict, as well as the way a nurse leader should act in order to find the best resolution.

Conflict is a natural part of any group work and communication, which usually cannot be avoided. It develops when people’s ideas, values, or feelings are not met by other individuals. Moreover, it is a competition of objectives and needs. However, despite its inevitability, such a problem can be resolved by employing strategies that are the most appropriate to a particular case. The paper discusses the aspects of conflict in the nursing field, its stages, possible impact on the patient’s state, and resolution strategies based on the research.

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In a hospital, as well as in any organization, a conflict can occur between individuals, groups, or even departments. Thus, there are three major types of conflicts: interpersonal, individual, and group one. One of the most widespread individual conflicts is connected to workplace roles. Interpersonal and group conflicts occur between few individuals. Conflicts can be caused by various reasons, including personal preferences, power, and competition, for example.

The general opinion about the conflicts is that they are obstacles on the way to the successful cooperation. However, in the case it is managed properly, it can provide means of introducing desirable changes, as well as revealing the attitude of an individual to work. Usually, if nurses are asked whether they would like to be involved in a conflict, the response will be negative. However, if a nurse is offered an open discussion of issues and their consideration, there is a possibility of the staff agreeing to experience a debate.

The Conflict Identification

Conflicts in the healthcare frequently occur as medical workers, especially nurses, have to deal with a great number of responsibilities. Occasionally, hospitals practice reducing costs, which requires fewer workers to complete the same work in shorter time. The tension that is associated with such situations is a result of assumptions that employers merely exploit the work of nurses for the own profit. It is the basis of the conflict, which recently, took place in one of the local hospitals.

The object of the research is the conflict occurring between a nurse and a doctor, who are both responsible for the same patient. Despite the fact that the nurse in question is experienced in the field, she made a mistake with the dose of medication, which was prescribed by the attending doctor. This mistake happened due to the lack of time to complete all duties. Fortunately, the dose was not mistaken in the way, which could significantly harm the patient’s state. However, such violations can be dangerous for patients in other instances. Despite the fact that no harm to the patient was visible, the mistake was identified by the doctor, who had made prescriptions and checked the patient’s state. 

The Course of the Conflict

The conflict started with the doctor entering the ward in the middle of procedures planning to scold the nurse, who gave the wrong dose to the patient, while she was checking the pulse during the daily monitoring of patients. As it appeared that the nurse in question was responsible for the activity, the doctor started arguing rather aggressively about the violation of his orders. In fact, such behavior is not appropriate to show in the presence of people who are not to be involved in the conflict, especially patients. The stress caused by the conflict can impact the patient’s emotional state, which is detrimental to the treatment.

After openly scolding the nurse without listening any explanations, the doctor threatened her with a punishment and even discharge. On the contrary, the nurse admitted that it was her mistake; however, to her defense, the woman provided the fact that she, as well as other members of the unit, experienced problems with time division. In such a manner, employees lacked time to complete all duties with precise attention and accuracy. Instead of commenting on the issue, the doctor asserted that the staff had enough time to conduct their work and then left the room.

The Type of the Conflict

According to the description, two people were involved in the conflict – the doctor and the subordinate nurse. The type of conflict is identified as an individual one as it implies the misunderstanding of the workplace roles and responsibilities. Moreover, it involves two people and their duties, as well as their personal ideas and values. In addition, it is associated both with the violation of responsibilities, as well as the unwillingness of the doctor to consider some issues of the nursing work, as well as respect their time. 

The Stages of Conflict

According to Finkelman, there are four stages of any conflict, which can be applied to a particular case in order to acquire a better understanding of the issue, as well as the way a conflict advances. The first stage is called a latent conflict. It is characterized by the anticipation of the conflict and awareness of the existing problem. As a rule, the competition or inappropriate interaction can mark the oncoming conflict. Commonly, the anticipation of such confrontation can appear between co-workers, who are dealing with the same patients, while one side supposes that others are not competent enough in completing the orders. It is one of the aspects that contributed to the conflict under analysis. As the nurse worked with the doctor’s patient, she had to follow all the prescriptions. Consequently, the mistake in completing her duty was the factor that triggered the anticipation of a conflict from the doctor’s side. On the other hand, the nurse was not aware of the problem and anticipated another conflict, which was connected to the lack of time.

The second stage is a perceived conflict. It involves awareness of the fact that the confrontation exists in a specific time period. In fact, it cannot be identified by any discussion; it can be felt only internally. The perception of the conflict is an essential factor, which can influence its course and outcome, as well as management. In the case of this particular situation, the conflict was perceived immediately by the nurse before the doctor began to speak, due to his passive-aggressive behavior. What concerns the doctor, he, as an initiator of the conflict, was aware of the dispute long before it occurred as he had planned it.

The following stage is identified as the felt conflict. It is characterized by feelings, which people experience at the beginning of the conflict or its perception. These feelings may include anger, distress, nervousness, and some other emotions. In the case one chooses avoidance at this stage, a conflict can be prevented from the development. Despite this fact, this strategy is not always an appropriate means of the conflict resolution as it hides the problem but does not resolve it. According to the situation, a conflict as perceived by the nurse when she started feeling frustrated and anxious about her mistake and the manner she was addressed to by the doctor. In turn, the doctor had started to feel angry before the beginning of the conflict, and this feeling only increased in the course of a conflict. The avoidance was not applied in this case, due to the fact that both sides expressed their demands and remarks openly.

The ultimate stage is a manifest conflict. It is an open conflict, which can be characterized as either constructive or destructive one. What concerns the confrontation in question, it can be classified as a destructive conflict as it implies denying the problem and ignoring it by a doctor, as well as avoiding a nurse without any resolution. Moreover, the fact that the conflict took place in the public contributes to the general inappropriateness and destructive character of the conflict.

The delegation cannot be defined as a reason for the conflict as it implies giving a power of doing work, which an individual normally does. Thus, the nurse was not empowered to do any kind of work instead of own duties. The mistake in completing her task was the exact reason for the conflict. 


It is obvious that the conflict is usually seen as a not pleasant issue to be faced in the workplace, especially within a group of medical professionals, who are responsible for the health of their patients. Thus, the conflict situation can affect the way the team works. However, despite the inevitability of confrontations, they still can be resolved by means of various strategies that are to be applied in accordance with a specific case in order to ensure the patients’ safety and improve the work of medical professionals.

In fact, one of the primary steps to resolving a conflict is creating a dialogue with the nurse leaders. The mere interaction is the key to the open discussion of a problem, which will not necessarily develop into a conflict. Apparently, it is difficult to discuss all the issues during the working process as nursing is associated with multitasking and lack of time. Consequently, if the nurse had discussed the issue before the conflict, she would have received a clear observation of her problem. Moreover, the doctor would have better discussed the mistake in a calmer manner, especially due to the fact that the woman admitted a mistake. In addition, he was supposed to consider the issue presented by a nurse instead of denying and avoiding it. the conflict should have been a personal discussion, which should not have been revealed to people that were not engaged in the problem. This strategy is believed to be the most beneficial due to the fact that it gives an opportunity to reduce tension before the conflict develops.

One more strategy implies identifying confrontations before they appear to be unresolved. Even though the conflict is inevitable, it is still possible to identify it at its beginning. Moreover, if the conflict considers nursing manipulations, it is obvious that all nurses make occasional mistakes. Thus, one of the ways of preventing and resolving conflicts is the interaction between representatives of different medical professions with the view to sharing a piece of advice or discussing the issue properly before it occurs. Thus, the doctor as supposed to control the nurses’ practice, as well as encourage them to report any mistakes. Furthermore, the warning and clear explanation of the problem is always more professional than the public scolding.

Collaboration with a Nurse Leader

As it was already stated, the discussion is the best way to introduce and resolve any issue. Thus, a nurse leader should be openly approached in discussing the conflict resolving strategies in order to find the best way to improve the situation. Thus, different perspectives on the problem may be beneficial in resolving conflicts within a team, as well as facilitating an environment which is appropriate for the patient care.


In conclusion, it should be stated that the conflict is an inevitable issue of the group work. It frequently occurs in the sphere of medical care, as well, as mistakes in the work of medical professionals occur from time to time. In fact, it is the basis of the conflict analyzed according to the conflict classification. It can be stated that the best way to avoid conflicts is to discuss the issue openly before it becomes a bigger problem and leads to further confrontations, which are not beneficial to the process of a patient care. Thus, it can be successfully applied in the future by medical professionals as a means of the conflict resolution.

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