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Managing Challenges: The Conflict Between Physician and Nurses

Brief Overview of Conflict Situation

Regulating conflict is a very challenging task, particularly when it comes to interaction of culturally and socially diverse groups. It is often impossible to recognize underpinning conflicts due to the differences in statements, values, and beliefs (Rousel & Swansburg, 2006). In this respect, effective communication is an important tool for interacting with people and preventing conflict emergence. Interpersonal skills are decisive for regulating and reducing the consequences of disputes. Moreover, an effective mediator can take advantage of the conflict and turn it in an advanced collaborative technique. To understand the reasons and implications for conflict emergence, I should mention the case with a physician who worked at my hospital. He was the source of all critical situations because all quarrels and misunderstandings were based on his attitude to his colleagues. It was a challenge for me to analyze the situation and undercurrent, but this should be done to prevent this situation in future.

Building a Framework for Conflict Assessment

Parties Involved

In most of cases, the conflict emerged between the physician and nurses who failed to reach a consensus on numerous issues. In this respect, the primary participants in the conflict situation were the physician who was always dissatisfied with the work of others and who created a discouraging atmosphere, and nurses who have been under the direct influence of the presented situation. Apparently, the physician believed that his intents and purposes are incompatible, however, he was still engaged into communication with other employees. In addition, nurses can be considered both as primary and secondary participants because the dispute had an indirect impact on them as well. The physician has the greatest interest in conflict because it allowed him to disguise the violations and misconduct. In such a manner, he exercises his prevalence over the others.


Aside from the parties involved into the conflict, it is also important to uncover the main events and issues that triggered the conflict development. This also includes the analysis of historical background, the degree of interdependent of the involved parties, as well as the goals and resources (Sportsman, 2005). Previously introduced solutions also matter while defining the sources of disagreement. Due to the fact that conflict often occurs in context, considering communication setting is of high relevance. Judging from the case, the physician was the core trigger of all conflicts and disputes in the department. However, the nurses should behave differently if the corresponding precaution measures were introduced. Specifically, creating overt discussions and dialogues, as well as making nurses realize the real intention of the physician could have smoothed the things over. This is the case when effective coaching and counseling should be presented to guide nurses in critical situation. As for the physicians, attention should have been paid to the social and cultural backgrounds of the employees to define the reasons for this negative behavior. Therefore, inappropriate behavior can often be the result of improper polices and surface considerations of the case.

While analyzing and systemizing the events, it should be stressed that the triggering issues and historical contexts are affiliated to the physician who have failed to recognize failures of the staff and avoid conflict situations. At the current moment, the historic content is not clearly defined because the physician to fail to explains underpinnings of his resentment. In this respect, further considerations are also full of biases. However, one of the reasons for igniting conflict was the physician’s attempt to conceal the fact of missing in the workplace.

The third party involved in the conflict is the manager who observes the situations and makes certain decisions concerning the situation. Dismissal was the only solution that could alleviate the disagreement.


While considering the role of power in conflict development, specific attention should be paid to the participants’ background because all conflicts are premised on their attempts to defend their self-esteem and fight against the existing inequalities in power (Sportsman, 2005). In fact, the parties involved into the conflict always believe that their rivals have much greater power in the present situation. In this regard, analyzing the impact of power is critical for understanding the nature of conflict. In the case under analysis, much concern is connected with the physician’s power overuse. Using his high status in the department, he neglected other responsibilities and forced nurses compensate his gaps. In fact, nurses were under severe pressure of the physician because his has greater power and recognition among the staff. Accordingly, nurses should be accountable to the physicians because their duties are directly associated with this responsibility. In this respect, highlighting the main source of power of influence can provide clearer answers to the situation and create solutions.

Considering external and internal sources of influence is indispensible to defining the reasons of conflict. Judging from the situation, the physician failed to consider nurses’ main interests and values, which encouraged the latter to search for the solution in the form of a conflict. In this situation, the third party could either develop the conflict and turn into a problem resolution or alleviate it by removing the source of misunderstanding.

Regulation and Conflict

Assessing powers of influence leads to the discussion of existing resources for settling the conflict. In this situation, dismissal of the physician was the least costly way to alleviate the conflict and restore a healthy work atmosphere. In this respect, conflict situation should be solved at a minimum cost because for the organization to quickly renew the normal working process. Apparently, hiring a new physician hired for the position would be much more cost-effective than leaving the previous candidature. Alternatively, conflict lasting for a long period can be destructive. According to Sportsman (2005), using such communication practices as “a critical beginning, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt” can escalate the oppressive atmosphere (p. 38). In addition, the third-party participants play a pivotal role in regulating the conflicts because they as neutral agents that can introduce viable solutions and offer different variants of conflict resolution. Like a representative of third parties, I believe I chose the right solution in ethical and financial terms because negotiations and mediation would contribute much to the situation. At the same time, the possibility of losing opportunities for settling the conflict is high because of existing human factors (Gaudine et al., 2011). In future, I would try innovative techniques in handling conflicts because this field of human resource management is the key for establishing successful cooperation among the staff members. More importantly, ability to introduce effective mediation provides higher potential for an organization to development in a healthy work environment.

Style of Conflict

Sportsman (2005) has revealed that avoidance is the most common style of conflict management, but it is not the best way of regulating disagreements. Avoiding conflicts implies reluctance of the participant to come to an agreement which creates more biases within the department. In this respect, people fail to understand the roots of a problem and, as result, the oppressed atmosphere becomes even more intensified. Though there is little evidence concerning the influence of conflict management style on work effectiveness, most of managers support the idea of using competition as the primary style for settling disputes. It is logical to note that both administrators can react to conflict in such a manner so as to increase a healthy atmosphere of competition among the staff members.

Gaudine et al. (2011) have discovered that both physicians and nurse can be involved in ethical conflicts that are often based on the discrepancies in professional values and moral beliefs. However, restricted distribution of resources can also be the reasons for ethical disagreements. From viewpoint of the physician, “…constraints on healthcare funding have made physician feel caught between patient advocacy and bedside rationing” (Gaudine et al. , 2011, p. 757). Judging from the case, the above assumption can be applicable to the situation because the physicians failed to stand the responsibilities imposed on him. Aside from existing constraints, diverse background can also have a potent impact on the conflict development (Al-Hamdan, 2009). The main task of a conflict manager, therefore, is take control of the situation, analyze the underpinning and choose the most appropriate style of conflict resolution.

Using a regular framework for analyzing and synthesizing conflicts can provide a nurse management with a deep understanding of human factors and their influence on the employed environment. Each leader should be aware of the nature and character of the conflict because accuracy and control are the basics of successful conflict management. In this respect, it is highly important to avoid ambiguity and biases while evaluating the causes and effects of disputes in the workplace (Porter-O’Grady, 2004). While evaluating the case from moral and ethical perspectives, the analysis of values, experience, and outlook of the concerned parties comes to the forth since it builds an effective algorithm for preventing conflicts in future. The case under consideration also reveals certain ethical, cultural, and social undercurrent that should be considered with greater responsibility and diligence.

Aside from interpersonal skills and manager’s initiative, the members of the organization should also be fully committed to solving the conflict. A collaborative approach to solving problem is an effective tool for increasing our hospital competitive edge and improving the overall work environment. Moreover, it can also contribute to enhancing leadership skills and authority. Nurses will be more responsible and respectful if their leader is worth relying on in difficult situations.

In conclusion, the case under analysis has revealed several positive and negative outcomes for the organization. To begin with, the positive effect consists in gaining experience in handling difficult situations, as well as in providing perspectives for further improvement. Further, conflicts help leaders define the main disagreements, as well as the way workplace diversity many influence the staff performance. Finally, the leader can gain a greater awareness of how each style of conflict influences the overall organizational commitment. The case has revealed certain pitfalls in organization and decision-making terms. Specifically, it focuses on the policy of avoidance as the main tool for relieving disagreements. Therefore, much emphasis should be placed on working out specific strategies aimed at introducing collaborative approach to settling conflicts.


Al-Hamdan, Z. (2009). Nurse managers, diversity and conflict management. Diversity In Health & Care, 6(1), 31-43.

Gaudine, A., LeFort, S., Lamb, M., & Thorne, L. (2011). Ethical conflicts with hospitals: The perspective of nurses and physicians. Nursing Ethics, 18(6), 756-766.

Porter-O’Grady, T. (2004). Embracing conflict: Building a healthy community. Health Care Management Review, 29(3), 181–187.

Rousel, L, & Swansburg, R. C. (2006). Management and Leadership for Nurse Administrators. US: Jones and Bartlett Learning.

Sportsman, S. (2005). Build a framework for conflict assessment. Nurse Management, 36(4), 32–40.

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ApeGrade. "Managing Challenges: The Conflict Between Physician and Nurses." April 27, 2022. https://apegrade.com/managing-challenges-the-conflict-between-physician-and-nurses/.


ApeGrade. 2022. "Managing Challenges: The Conflict Between Physician and Nurses." April 27, 2022. https://apegrade.com/managing-challenges-the-conflict-between-physician-and-nurses/.


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