Types of Conflicts in Nursing

Conflicts are common in all workplaces, including nursing departments in medical facilities. The conflicts can be stressful and escalate, so it’s important for nurses and their supervisors to learn how to manage them.

Organizational Conflict

Organizational conflict occurs when two or more departments in the same facility compete for resources. Money, equipment and personnel are the most common resources likely to create an organizational conflict. An ongoing organizational conflict can be detrimental to staff and the facility, as constant competition for resources can create stress and result in poor service to patients.

Interpersonal Conflict

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When two nurses disagree, an interpersonal conflict occurs. These types of conflicts aren’t limited solely to nurses, as patients can enter into an interpersonal conflict with a nurse if they don’t agree with an assessment or recommendation. Interpersonal conflict can be visible as it sometimes results in a person verbally attacking someone else. It can be damaging to a medical facility if patients witness the conflict.

Intrapersonal Conflict

A nurse occasionally feels conflicted as she struggle to balance her job requirements with her personal life and beliefs. In this situation, a nurse is experiencing intrapersonal conflict. Ethical dilemmas are often a source of intrapersonal conflict, although nurses can experience it for other reasons. For example, a nurse at work may have an intrapersonal conflict if her child is home sick, since she feels an obligation to her employer and a need to be home with her child.

Intersender Conflict

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Although medical facilities strive to maintain consistency, nurses may experience intersender conflict, where they receive different messages from different sources. Differences in instructions for procedures or processes at a medical facility are examples of intersender conflicts. This type of conflict can be frustrating for nurses and lead to burnout and turnover because mixed messages can result in additional work.

Conflict Management

There are a number of conflict management and resolution options for nurses to learn and utilize. Some employers offer conflict resolution or management training for free. Nurses lacking this option can check with local community centers and colleges to see if they offer classes or training.