Conflict Resolution: 3 Tips for Managing Conflict While Travel Nursing

Health Carousel Travel Nursing
February 25, 2022
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Do you remember the first time you had a conflict with a nurse on your travel assignment? How did you feel? Were you supported by your travel nursing agency? What did you learn from that disagreement? Conflict is a normal part of adult life and every nurse will experience it at some point in their career. Therefore, it is beneficial to learn how to manage it.

Unfortunately, nursing is a profession with a  long history of nurses “eating their young,” which is a form of hostility and bullying. This incivility is defined by experts as rude, disruptive, intimidating, and undesirable behaviors directed toward a person. Over time, nurses have created a culture where you must prove yourself in order to be accepted by the unit. Travel nurses can often be a direct target of bullying or subject to passive aggressive behavior. While avoiding conflict may lead to burnout, unhappiness, or u leaving an assignment, addressing it will help create a more cohesive team.

When you contract with a travel nursing agency like Medical Staffing Options, you have an internal clinical liaison support team by your side to help you transition into your travel nurse role. This liaison team is composed of registered nurses with a variety of skill sets and leadership experiences and a strong understanding of travel nursing. You will also have access to the internal clinical liaison team, which is made up of trained mentors and coaches who can guide you through conflict resolution while keeping your interests in mind.  

Conflict can occur during an assignment for a variety of reasons. Disagreements are inevitable in the workplace—especially as you learn how to be a nurse in a new setting. Addressing issues as they arise is a healthy approach that paves the way for professional growth. To help you prepare for a possible conflict that may come up, remember the following:

Know Your Resources and Leader

At the start of your assignment, it is wise to get to know your leadership. Introduce yourself to your immediate manager and start building a relationship with them. Ask your manager about the best way to address concerns around conflicts and clinical practice issues. Also, inquire about hospital resources, department contact information, and other vital information to help you do your job. When a conflict arises, a nurse manager that knows you is less likely to terminate you than one who doesn’t.

If you encounter a conflict during your travel nurse assignment, Medical Staffing Options’ clinical liaisons  will coach you through your individualized conflict resolution process. The liaisons suggest communicating directly with your department manager first, as many issues can be resolved at this level. If this approach does not lead toward a resolution, be sure to engage a clinical liaison for  next steps. You and your clinical liaison can decide if pursuing conflict resolution at a different level is necessary, and they can connect you with the right people if necessary.

Focus On Teamwork and Patient Safety

It is not uncommon for a travel nurse to experience conflict with the staff nurses they are supporting. A staff nurse may be jealous of the amount a travel nurse is earning for doing the same job. COVID has enhanced pay discrepancies between travel and staff nurses, as there are not enough nurses to fill all staff positions. To attract experienced travel nurses, hospital systems are offering incentives, sign-on bonuses, and high pay rates to fill immediate hospital needs.

During orientation for a new assignment, make a point to learn where the unit and facility’s policies and procedures live. Be a team player and offer assistance whenever the need arises. Also, never be afraid to ask for help. Everyone doesn’t have to like each other, but you do have to function as a team to create good patient outcomes. Remember that you already know how to be a nurse—the key is being a nurse in their house.

Even if you are the best team player, you may still experience a situation where nursing aids or staff refuse to help you because you are earning more than your staff counterparts. Similarly, you may be assigned a large high acuity patient load on a consistent basis. These behaviors can lead to patient safety issues, so it is important to mention this to your manager and start  conversations with your clinical liaisons on how to proceed with conflict resolution. Take every challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow your skillset. Showing that you can overcome adversity will communicate to your team that you are a team player who wants what is best for your patients.

Practice Self-Awareness and Effective Communication

Do you find yourself in frequent conflict? Do you regularly avoid conflict altogether? Have you recently done some self-reflection? Knowing your personality traits, behaviors, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings can help you better navigate your way around conflict. Self-aware individuals are able to understand others, know how people perceive you, and form responses in the moment. Medical Staffing Options’ clinical liaisons can help you reflect, grow, and learn conflict management skills that suit your unique situation and personality.

One of the most common reasons that a conflict may arise is miscommunication. As a nurse, you understand the importance of communication with respect to patient care. However, communication is vital in all aspects of professional nursing. Communicate your needs by requesting more orientation time (within reason), asking for feedback, doing self-chart audits, and listening objectively. Building a solid support system during an assignment can turn a  great experience into an amazing one. Relationship-building facilitates trust and integration as part of the team.

Navigating your way around conflict is never easy. Luckily, connecting with Medical Staffing Options’ clinical liaisons can help you find a resolution. As a nursing professional, it’s important to stand up for yourself and your patients. Additionally, leaving an assignment due to unresolved conflict may follow you on your travel nurse journey. Your goal is to complete your assignment in a safe environment while keeping your license protected. By partnering with a travel nurse company like Medical Staffing Options to secure your next travel assignment, you will have an experienced clinical liaison team to help you every step of the way.


Melissa Mora, BSN, RNC-OB is a second career nurse with over seven years of nursing experience, specifically in obstetrics, gynecology, neonatal care and informatics. She also has more than 10 years of small business management and leadership experience and currently owns, which provides professional nursing development and content writing services. Melissa and her husband Ryan are originally from San Antonio, TX, but now spend most of their time in the Eastern Sierra Nevadas.

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