It’s safe to say we’ve all experienced some level of workplace conflict. It’s also important to acknowledge that certain elements of conflict are natural and inevitable. For some nurses, the pressure and challenging environment of a hospital ward can lead to conflict between colleagues. As an agency nurse, moving across various hospitals and medical organisations means that you may undertake a long assignment, or perhaps you’ll only be in one location for a short period of time – but being armed with the knowledge to understand conflict is invaluable. Here is our guide to identifying and handling conflict in your nursing job.


Reasons for conflict in nursing jobs:

Conflict comes in many forms. Perhaps the simplest way to break it down is to split the causes into three separate factors: Miscommunication, Personal Values, and Structure.


  • Miscommunication: Any kind of breakdown in communication in your nursing job can result in conflict, whether it’s a misinterpretation of what’s been said, or a lack of understanding.


  • Personal values: When a group of nurses with different personalities come together, it’s understandable that factors such as a struggle for power, emotions and issues outside of work can impact the working environment.


  • Structure: Certain things including nurse workload management, medical team structure and nursing leadership styles can lead to conflict between nurses and their peers.


Effects of conflict:

As an agency nurse, conflict in the workplace can create a difficult environment, resulting in poor performance, tension and lowered morale. Conflict at work is also often a contributing factor when it comes to stress amongst the nursing community. It can have an adverse effect on the quality of care available to patients, and impact nurse job satisfaction.




Ways people can handle conflict:

Throughout your nursing career, people may deal with conflict in different ways - and often there is no right or wrong answer. Some exhibit avoidance behaviours like becoming introverted, which will certainly not tackle the issue. Many prefer to “keep the peace” by accommodating or tolerating conflict. Yielding to this kind of behavior is not particularly constructive. Compromise can often help to diffuse a nursing workplace conflict, allowing people to reach a potential solution, find a middle ground or explore a reasonable approach. 


What you can do to alleviate a conflict situation:

When it comes to conflict in your nursing job, you can try to resolve the issue, or reduce the impact. Through collaboration and communication, areas of concern can be identified and hopefully it will create a dialogue to fix the conflict. Once you’ve established the origin of the conflict, you can use a mediator to help the discussion, or escalate the issue where appropriate. Always ask yourself about your reaction to the conflict and know, perhaps, if you’re in a position to apologise for some of your own behaviors. 


There definitely isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to resolving conflict in your agency nurse job, but we hope this has given you some food for thought. Whether you’re in an A&E Nurse job, an RGN job or something else, be mindful of how your can make a positive change towards reducing workplace conflict. 

To explore our latest agency nurse jobs, visit our nursing job search here.