Conflict Resolution

Nurse/Physician Conflict

  • Lack of Communication/Collaboration
  • Nurses Do Not Feel Appreciated
  • Frequent Call-outs/Short Staffed
  • Unprofessional Attitude
  • Unresolved Built up Tension Between Coworkers

Conflict Resolution Strategies

  • Nurses and physicians are given formal training in communication skills, leadership development, problem solving, conflict management, development of emotional intelligence, and team functions. Education and training is provided to nurse/physician teams and is not discipline specific.
  • Awards, recognition and celebration are public and visible and across disciplines and teams—Example: Physicians identify the Nurse of the Year; Nurses identify the Physician of the Year
  • All disciplines are educated in the role/responsibility of their colleagues
  • Processes exist to identify and address conflict situations before they become a crisis and/or deteriorate
  • Code of Conduct Guidelines/Policies exists for all professionals that outline behavioral expectations (Finkelman, 2016 pg. 333)

Communication Skills

  • "According to The Joint Commission (Woods, 2006), nearly 60% of medical errors are a direct result of communication breakdown" (Flicek, 2012). Poor communication skills contribute to low morale, and most importantly the quality of patient care provided.
  • "Provision of the situation (S), background (B), assessment (A), and recommendations (R) has proven to be effective in nurse-physician communication" (Flicek, 2012).
  • Also, bedside rounding is another effective tool. This is a time when the patient's plan of care can be review and discussed, with everyone on the same page.

Review of Responsibilities/Scope of Practice

  • "Yudkowsky (2010) noted nurses believe physicians do not view them as professionals but simply “purveyors of tasks” (Flicek, 2012).
  • "Nurses attribute this belief to their perception that physicians are not always knowledgeable of nurses’ scope of practice and the autonomy nurses have earned" (Flicek, 2012).
  • Understanding one another's roles and responsibilities will help in the flow of communication and contribute to better patient care.

Code of Conduct Guidelines/Policies

  • Educating all healthcare workers on the Code of Conduct guidelines such as, "Work in collaboration with your colleagues to ensure the delivery of high quality, safe and compassionate healthcare, care and support" (Shepherd, 2013).
  • "Institutions should develop comprehensive programs to deal with disruptive behavior, including both formal policies and procedures to make expectations and consequences explicit" (Schorling, 2009).
  • Incorporating a zero tolerance for violations. "Verbal abuse, no matter who—physician or nurse—is doing it, should not be tolerated" (Finkelman, 2016).

Identify Conflicts Early

  • "When conflict occurs, something is out of sync, usually due to a lack of clear understanding of one another’s roles and responsibilities" (Finkelman, 2016 pg.324).
  • Incorporate a method of reporting incidences early to management
  • Identify situations which could result in potential conflict
  • "identify and address staffing needs as soon as possible, especially at peak times" ("Conflict Prevention," 2017).
  • "ensure that policies against workplace conflict are also directed at combating any form of discrimination" ("Conflict Prevention," 2017).


  • Appreciation amongst coworkers and recognition of team accomplishments
  • "Pulling your own weight in the office is one of the most sincere expressions of appreciations and respect in the workplace" (Simmerman, 2007).
  • Workers who feel appreciated and valued (with simple gestures) are happier at work and more productive

"May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands" (Psalm 90:17, NIV).


Conflict Prevention and Management . (2017). Retrieved May 3, 2017, from

Finkelman, A. (2016). Leadership and Management for Nurses Revel Core Competencies for Quality Care. Pearson.

Flicek, C. L. (2012). Communication: A Dynamic Between Nurses and Physicians . Communication: A Dynamic Between Nurses and Physicians , 376-382. Retrieved May 3, 2017, from

Schorling, J. (2009). The Case of the Verbally Abusive Physician. Retrieved May 03, 2017, from

Shepherd, E. (2013). New code of conduct for HCAs. Retrieved May 03, 2017, from

Simmerman, J. (2007). How To Show Appreciation Without Kissing Up. Retrieved May 03, 2017, from


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