Have you ever seen a nursing colleague be disrespectful to another nursing colleague or have you even had it happen to you? Post your experience and identify what did you do if anything and or what could you have done?
I was an observer to an ongoing conflict intrapersonal between two individuals at work. They were both front line staff that disagreed constantly with work load, each others style and personality. It was becoming quite disruptive in the clinic and many were avoiding the situation and feeding into the disagreement. Management hadn’t really stepped into offer support; some were allowing each party to come to them on a daily basis to tattle on the other. There were often tears involved and unproductive emails circulating. On one occasion I was involved in an email chain from each for an assigned task that had gotten way out of hand between the two. Some of the management team was copied on the email and it went on for quite some time. I was asked by my manager the source of discontent and reason for the email chain and thoughts for how to handle the ongoing conflict between the two. I had though at the time they both needed to sit in a room, a safe space and just lay it all out in the open and try to come to some compromise and move on. There was a definite lack of communication between the two and in a team environment it was vital that they respect the other and try to work together.
I knew the one co-worker (call her A) well outside of work and she asked me my opinion that evening. I thought about it for a bit, I didn’t want to hurt her feelings but I really thought she needed someone to be honest with her and let her know how disruptive this behaviour was to the team. I told her it was time to sit down and try to resolve these issues and I thought a more productive approach would be to talk face to face and not over an email so that nothing was misunderstood.
In the end both team members stepped up and talked and listened to each other and were able to set aside differences to be able to work together. The team had a very different, productive flow after that, and the two are much more in sync than before. Later co-worker A came to me and thanked me for being honest with her, she said it was a much needed shake that helped her to see things differently.
I had a recent experience with a charge nurse and a staff nurse be unhappy with my patient assignment for my students. When deciding on the patients I assign my students, I factor in many things; learning goals and objectives, the competency and level of the student and of course how will I manage all my students and their responsibilities. The one thing I rarely consider is the staffing and how evenly my students are split between staff since the students are a completely separate entity and are there as a part of their education not as free help or labour. Sadly some staff do not see it that way and feel entitled to a student since they feel it makes their work load lighter and can continually delegate to the student.
This particular shift as report was taking place, the staff nurse approached the charge nurse and loudly stated (in more coloured language) how angry she was that her pod partner had 2 students and she had none. The charge nurse wanted me to change one of my student’s patient assignment to appease her staff. To role model to my students and also advocate for their learning, I professionally and calmly informed the staff nurse, the charge nurse and the other nurse that had 2 of my students assigned to her patients I would not be changing any of their assignments and explained to them my rationale and why the students were there. I also referred to the Supporting Learners guideline from the CNO. It was many conversations and educating the staff on students and diffusing fires. I did show empathy for them, I understood they were tired and burnt out but it was not the students responsibility to make their situation and work load better. I then made my presence known more in that area to ensure no further conflict arose as my one student was made to feel uncomfortable and also if anyone had further questions, concerns or needed clarification.
I later spoke with the manager to make her aware of the situation that occurred and thankfully had her full support and understanding
I never had a bad experience with other nurses nor witness disrespect between nurses only some rumors I overheard. I do however seen conflict between CCAs/PSWs the number one cause of conflict was their work ethic some CCAs do not do their job well which affects the quality of care the resident receives. One example in my unit. Day shift workers complains that night shift workers do not do their job well they claimed that some heavy wetter residents were left drenched/soaked in the morning, pads not being change. Night shift claimed they did their job while its true they did change the diaper but very early in the morning like 2am so its very likely that the resident was soaked by the time day staff get to them. RN in charge of the unit send a memo ensuring day, evening, and night shift workers to work as a team. The solution was make a list of resident that needs pad change and do the heavy wetters last in the early mornings. In return day workers do extra work to help out the evening shift and evening shift will do the same for the night shift. It help a lot especially when the next shift has staff shortage.
Conflict is something that seems to be inevitable, especially when we often work very closely with our colleagues for extended periods of time. It’s great to hear that most of you seem comfortable dealing with conflict in a respectful way. It can be tough to be patient and honest with people when conflict arises, however as you’ve highlighted, it’s important to have open conversations in a professional, respectful manner.
Thanks for your input to this question!
I have certainly faced conflict in my career. Conflict can be disruptive and harmful if not handled with sensitivity and professionalism. Yelling, screaming, making threats, throwing a tantrum is not going to get you very far. Is conflict the same as having a disagreement? Is conflict a form of violence?
Steps need to minimize conflict begins with open, honest communication. Its not what we say, but how we say it. If we can project facts, and refrain from emotion this can help to resolve conflict. Unfortunately, addressing and tackling conflict head on can be uncomfortable and intimidating for some individuals. If we choose to ignore or avoid conflict, it difficult to correct the behaviour or reach a resolution. Writing, reporting or recording the problem at hand is another alternative to address conflict. When writing, I take caution with who I am sending the complaint to or who needs to be made aware of the complaint as well as the tone in my writing. Is conflict the same as a complaint? Once something is in writing it can’t be taken back. Keeping a paper trail has certainly helped in the past to demonstrate the attempts I took to resolve the conflict and or communicate probable solutions to the problem at hand.
As a manager, I reinforce to the team, incident reports are not a platform to point fingers, blame or penalize one another. Incident reports are meant to identify a problem, risk, and use to make quality improvements. When following up on an incident report, I hate it when staff say ” am I in trouble?”. I provide reassurance that they are not in trouble however, the incident is document, and it it becomes a recurring situation, there is potential for disciplinary action however, what can we do together or as a team to prevent this situation from happening again? what can we do better for the next time? what have your learned from this situation? is the situation resolved? Was the risk high, medium or low?
The example that immediately comes to mind did not happen to me but happened to a fellow RPN at my job. I’m not sure what incidents or conversation led up to it but the RN on duty said that “RPNs were just the pill pushers”. The same person who said this has been known to make comments about certain areas or conversations being “just for RNs”. It’s extremely inappropriate because at any given time there is 1 RN in the building and 3 or 4 RPNs. I limit my interactions with her and stress that I am there to do my job and not take part in petty arguments. She may address legitimate concerns to the DOC.