Conflict Resolution for the Licensed Practical Nurse

Conflict Resolution for the Licensed Practical Nurse

The job of the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), or Licensed Vocation Nurse in some states, involves various challenges in providing nursing care. Positioned between the Registered Nurse (RN) and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), the LPN’s role is akin to “middle management” in nursing, carrying significant responsibilities but lacking organizational influence or power. Licensed nurses who effectively address conflicts can empower themselves to establish a harmonious work environment.

Conflict resolution skills have a positive impact across all aspects of a nurse’s life. Being able to navigate through emotions to discern facts or perspectives during conflicts is an asset for professional nurses. Understanding one’s own conflict resolution style assists nurses in dealing with disagreements within their department.

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There are five common conflict resolution styles:

1. Competing (forcing)
2. Collaborating
3. Compromising
4. Avoiding (withdrawing)
5. Accommodating

Each style may be appropriate in different situations. For instance, the forcing style is necessary for a swift resolution, like stopping aggression, but may not be suitable for everyday challenges. Nurses might employ a forcing style when a patient is verbally or physically abusive, using authoritative measures to halt the behavior, then switching to another style to address the incident itself.

Collaboration is often a win-win approach, where opponents find middle ground in their dispute. This style relies on a high-trust environment but can be a time-consuming process. It’s useful for daily disputes, such as disagreements between CNAs about the lunch break schedule, where the nurse can collaborate to find an agreeable schedule.

The compromising style is suitable for temporary settlements, providing a quick resolution that may lack trust-building if the nurse doesn’t address the root issue. For example, if a CNA requests a shift change due to physical strain, compromise for that shift but set the expectation that she must meet all job duties by the next shift.

Withdrawing is a way to avoid a known conflict, providing time to assess a situation from a different angle. However, relying solely on this style can discredit the nurse. Avoidance can be a tactic when other styles have failed or when there’s a risk of hostility. If requests beyond the nurse’s scope arise, the nurse can voice concerns, then withdraw to consult with a manager.

LPN in the Inpatient vs. Outpatient Setting

The accommodating style is suitable for minor issues or when the nurse has no choice, such as following a regulatory mandate. Nurses are trained to adapt to various people and processes in medicine. Knowing when to assert oneself respectfully is crucial. Accommodating all conflicts is detrimental, but nurses must also know when to accept decisions, orders, or mandates.

Conflicts can emerge when interests, needs, goals, or values misalign between individuals. Workplace controversies are common and can cause stress, dissatisfaction, and turnover among quality nurses and staff. LPNs can use different conflict resolution styles to resolve disputes and foster a happy and trusting work environment.

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