Teaching housestaff to deal with conflict

Academic Article


  • Internal Medicine residents are often exposed to conflict. Difficulties may arise in relationships with patients, families, nursing staff and other physicians. Unfortunately, housestaff are given little training in handling these situations. Since residents are likely to deal with similar issues after graduation, it is important to teach proper conflict management techniques. At the University of Alabama, a two hour conflict management workshop was held during a weekend retreat for Internal Medicine housestaff. The workshop began with a didactic large group session where basic negotiating techniques were reviewed. The techniques were a modification of the methods described by Ury in Getting Past No, 1991. Residents were then assigned to small groups facilitated by well-respected Internal Medicine faculty. During the small group sessions, residents were assigned several conflict scenarios to role-play. Participants later shared their feelings about the situations. Residents were encouraged to acknowledge their frustrations and discuss similar episodes that they had experienced. Negotiating tips were suggested and residents were encouraged to practice utilizing them. Support resources were also identified for each situation (i.e. attending physicians, chief residents, patient representatives). Of approximately 90 participants, 51 completed workshop evaluation forms. 96% of respondents felt that the workshop was effective overall. 94% felt that small group sessions were effective and 67% thought that the large group session was effective. Identifying causes of conflict and learning conflict management skills were listed as the most important aspects learned from the conference. 82% reported that they would be interested in learning more about conflict management skills and 80% stated that they would be interested in similar workshops in the future. Conflict management is an important aspect of training for internal medicine Housestaff. Workshops are a useful way to teach residents how to deal with conflict.
  • Authors

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    Author List

  • Bryan TJ; Stafford MA
  • Volume

  • 44
  • Issue

  • 1