Working with multiple team members in one unit benefits patients as they are able to receive seamless care. However, it is inevitable that team members will clash from time to time.

Based on previous studies, these workplace conflicts usually occur due to miscommunication and poor collaboration among the healthcare providers which finally results in unproductive teamwork (Andrew, 1999; Ramsay, 2001). In this article, we address the techniques that can be used to resolve these clashes.

Open communication

Poor open communication between doctors and nurses have been identified as a main cause of conflict. As a part of the team, both doctors and nurses are responsible for open and professional communication. A friendly environment in the workplace is needed where team members respect each another’s ideas, openly share information and keep one another informed.

Indeed, good team members treat their colleagues with respect, listen to what other staff members say without interruption, and are honest while communicating. Even in a clinic setting, doctors and nurses must share any unusual diagnostic findings and convey all important information regarding the patient’s progress. This is in line with the core element of efficient communication which is clarifying what others are saying and building on the merits of coworkers’ ideas (Tomey, 2004). That is why, open communication between the health care team members is critical to the collaborative relationship.

Interdisciplinary collaboration

Interdisciplinary involvement is necessary as most healthcare processes involve more than one discipline. A study by Tschannen (2004) among a sample of 71 registered nurses and 34 physicians in a Midwest hospital, showed that nurse-doctor collaboration improves patient outcomes. Also, it was found that the organisation plays an important role in creating an environment and culture that values and promotes collaboration. However, all decisions made may not require collaboration. All you need to do is to use your judgment and critical thinking to decide what problems are complex and require a collaborative process. Apart from that, to encourage collaboration, the head nurse or manager can place the representatives of the various disciplines together in practice projects, in-service programs, conferences, and staff meetings.

Leadership ability

To be a part of interdisciplinary teams, nurses need to demonstrate greater leadership ability. The best way to enhance your leadership skill is via continuous education. It is impossible to remain knowledgeable about current medical and nursing practice trends without on-going education. The manager can also provide a variety of learning opportunities to staff members so that they can remain competent in their practices. This involves planning in-service programs, sending staff to continuing education classes and professional conferences, and having staffs present the case studies during staff meetings.

In brief, workplace conflicts are commonplace. But, they can be avoided by improving the relationship between doctors and nurses. Unresolved workplace conflicts can contribute to occupational stress, job dissatisfaction and high turnover rates which ultimately affects the quality of care that the patients receive. Thus, to overcome these conflicts, both parties must work together as a team and understand that their ultimate goal is the same – to provide the best care to their patients. MIMS

Read more:
The doctor-doctor relationship
A rise in nurses taking over doctors' responsibilities
5 Important Qualities looked for in Head Nurse
5 ways to improve your health in the workplace

Andrew, L.B. (1999). Conflict management, prevention, and resolution in medical settings. Physician Exec. 25(4):38–42Ramsay, M. A. E. (2001).
Conflict in the health care workplace. Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center. 14(2), 138–139. Retrieved from,, M.A. (2004).
Guide to nursing management and leadership. Ed 7. St. Louis, Mosby.Tschannen, D. (2004).
The effect of individual characteristics on perceptions of collaboration in the work environment. Medsurg Nurs. 13(5); 312.