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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 91-92

Conflict management in the field of medical education and healthcare

1 Department of Community Medicine, Member of Medical Education Unit and Medical Research Unit, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication23-Apr-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJAM.IJAM_76_17

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Conflict management in the field of medical education and healthcare. Int J Acad Med 2018;4:91-2

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Conflict management in the field of medical education and healthcare. Int J Acad Med [serial online] 2018 [cited 2023 Jan 29];4:91-2. Available from: https://www.ijam-web.org/text.asp?2018/4/1/91/230855

To the Editor,

It is quite obvious that regardless of the settings, having a conflict between the involved stakeholders is unavoidable.[1] Similar thing persists in the field of medical education and healthcare, as it involves the interaction between different individuals (viz., student-patient, student-student, student-faculty, resident-intern, and faculty-faculty) with varied backgrounds.[1] However, it is important to realize that conflicts are not always bad or it is not impossible to resolve, and it does not necessarily call for the involvement of a third party for the resolution.[1],[2] In reality, conflict acts as a creative force and provides both initiative and incentive to solve the existing problem.[1],[2]

It is noteworthy that despite health professionals and medical educators who teach and advocate for better communication skills with their patients and students are themselves often not comfortable in practically applying these skills in resolving conflict with each other.[1],[2],[3] Infact, owing to the lack of sensitization about the same, often the gravity of the problem enhances, and even it becomes a major reason for suffering, wastage of time and resources, and might attribute to long-term sequels for everyone.[3] Further, the inability to resolve conflict adequately can affect team function, which can result in medical errors and patient-safety concerns.[2],[3]

Although conflicts can precipitate due to numerous reasons, the dearth of proper communication, lack of trust, and wrong beliefs without ascertaining the facts are the most common ones.[1],[2],[3] At the same time, the manner in which a person approach or escape from a conflict in the workplace is determined by previous experiences, surety, and competence in managing conflicts, and the apparent risks associated with handling conflicts in work settings.[2],[3],[4] Considering that resolution of a conflict is a kind of skill, which a student or faculty must acquire, it is the need of the hour to adopt a structured approach to not only improve their interpersonal and communication skills but even develop professionalism.[2],[3],[4],[5]

In general, an individual response to a conflict is determined by whether they want to sustain/improve association with others (cooperativeness) or want to think about themselves and their ability to win (assertiveness).[4] In fact, a practical tool is available, which identifies five different ways in which an individual respond to a conflict, namely, competition (more assertive, less cooperative), avoidance (both assertive and cooperation being low), compromise (moderately assertive and moderately cooperative), accommodation (low assertiveness, but more cooperation), and collaboration (both assertive and cooperation being high).[4],[5]

To reduce the incidence of conflicts, medical students can be asked to write down their experience or circumstances which have resulted in a conflict, which then can be pooled together and then discussed in a group in an anonymous manner.[4] This is followed by the practical application of the above tool, and attempts should be taken to make them understand about the merits and demerits of each conflict management style.[5] Further, strategies can be developed in collaboration with medical students and faculty to ensure that in future conflicts can be resolved more effectively and completely.[5] However, acknowledging the fact that conflict can arise from numerous sources, in the long run, steps should be taken to establish a forum, where medical students or faculty can discuss their conflicting scenarios anonymously periodically, ensure the participation of faculty, and emphasize the application of the conflict resolution model.[4],[5]

To conclude, recognizing and timely addressing of the potential factors which can contribute to the emergence of conflicts will ensure a positive impact on health care and medical education. Further, irrespective of the unavoidable nature of conflicts, the aim of conflict resolution should be to avoid its escalation, and precipitation of a negative outcome.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Sawa RJ, Phelan A, Myrick F, Barlow C, Hurlock D, Rogers G, et al. The anatomy and physiology of conflict in medical education: A doorway to diagnosing the health of medical education systems. Med Teach 2006;28:e204-13.  Back to cited text no. 1
Holloway KJ. Teaching conflict: Professionalism and medical education. J Bioeth Inq 2015;12:675-85.  Back to cited text no. 2
Barnett-Vanes A, Hassounah S, Shawki M, Ismail OA, Fung C, Kedia T, et al. Impact of conflict on medical education: A cross-sectional survey of students and institutions in Iraq. BMJ Open 2016;6:e010460.  Back to cited text no. 3
Mossanen M, Johnston SS, Green J, Joyner BD. A practical approach to conflict management for program directors. J Grad Med Educ 2014;6:345-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Ogunyemi D, Tangchitnob E, Mahler Y, Chung C, Alexander C, Korwin D, et al. Conflict styles in a cohort of graduate medical education administrators, residents, and board-certified physicians. J Grad Med Educ 2011;3:176-81.  Back to cited text no. 5


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