LocumLife - October 2010 - (Page 7)
INSIGHTS From NALTO
Avoiding and managing conflict while on contract
Karen Childress iven the option, most of us choose to avoid becoming involved in any type of conflict, at work or at home. Alas, we’re human, and so is everyone around us. Despite our best efforts to “keep the peace” and maintain harmony, conflict may arise. And that’s not all bad. Sometimes conflict is warranted and leads to changes that result in improved systems and practices. In the healthcare setting, such improvements may result in better patient care. Conflict may arise as the result of poor communication, unmet expectations, unwarranted criticism, differing opinions about how something should be done, inconsistent leadership, overactive egos, and personality clashes. Unresolved conflict in the workplace can lead to low morale and high turnover, low productivity and high stress. So with the above nod to the upside of conflict, let’s assume that, in most instances, the workplace is better off without clashes, quarrels, disagreements, and standoffs between physicians and those they work with—other doctors, nursing staff, technicians, and the rest of the support team. As a locum tenens practitioner, how can you avoid and manage conflict while on contract? Get the lay of the land. Upon arriving at a new location, ask your supervising physician or an administrator about any ongoing challenges or tensions you may be walking into, and inquire about the culture of the organization. Does the department tend to be upbeat and casual, or serious and highly structured? Are there political minefields you should avoid? Advance warning can be very helpful when you’re the “new doctor.” www.LocumLife.com
Behave like a guest. One excellent way to avoid conflict is to make sure you’re not the cause of it. From day one in a new hospital or clinic, exhibit an appropriate balance between confidence and humility. Be friendly (but not too familiar) with everyone. Ask questions when you’re not sure about something, and thank those who help make your first days and weeks manageable. Respect “the way things are done.” Bring your accumulated knowledge to each new opportunity, but be subtle about it.
Assess situations objectively.
If a disagreement is building up to the level of true conflict, don’t jump in too quickly. Take a moment to breathe and, if necessary, employ the “count to 10” technique if you need to calm down. Then, objectively assess the situation (including your part in it) to determine if this particular conflict is one that should be ignored, addressed one-onone, or mediated by someone other than you.
Have adult conversations.
Go to locumlife.com/infighting to learn more about staff disputes from people who’ve dealt with them.
When a conflict needs to be addressed directly, speak privately and candidly to the person with whom you are having difficulty. Avoid being judgmental or accusatory. Don’t raise your voice or use a belittling tone. Be respectful, sensitive, and empathetic to your colleague. Adult to adult, many disagreements can be handled effectively with one honest conversation.
Take appropriate action if the stakes are high. Is patient safety
Find out how to land repeat contracts in places you love at locumlife.com/repeat.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Characteristics of successful locum tenens physicians include flexibility and the ability to work with a wide variety of people. So, what should you do if your medical assistant has an annoying habit like talking to herself or leaving her workstation in disarray? Leave it alone. Choose your battles, and only go to the mat over those that really matter. Avoid existing disputes. Don’t get in the middle of ongoing conflicts that have nothing to do with you. You’re on location for a few weeks or perhaps a few months. The long-standing war of wills between Dr. Smith and the nursing supervisor is not your concern. Ignore it. Don’t talk about it with others. Don’t take a side.
Photo: Getty Images/Blend Images/Jose Luis Pelaez Inc
at risk? Is your license, your professional reputation, or the reputation of the organization on the line? If so, take the issue to someone in a position of authority—the head nurse, department director, supervising physician, or administrator. Contact your recruiter. If you’re on location and conflict heats up to a point that you’re unsure about what to do, contact your NALTO (nalto.org) agency recruiter immediately. He or she will intervene on your behalf, up to and including pulling you from the contract if indicated. Fortunately, that rarely happens, but know that you have backup if you need it. L L Karen Childress is a Colorado-based freelance writer contributing a series of articles on behalf of NALTO.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of LocumLife - October 2010
LocumLife - October 2010
Media in Motion
Going Beyond the Handshake
LocumLife - October 2010
LocumLife - October 2010 - LocumLife - October 2010 (Page Cover1)
LocumLife - October 2010 - LocumLife - October 2010 (Page Cover2)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Contents (Page 1)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Contents (Page 2)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Editorial (Page 3)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Stat! (Page 4)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Stat! (Page 5)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Stat! (Page 6)
LocumLife - October 2010 - From Nalto (Page 7)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Med Ec-Cerpts (Page 8)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Med Ec-Cerpts (Page 9)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Survey Says (Page 10)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Survey Says (Page 11)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Media in Motion (Page 12)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Media in Motion (Page 13)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Going Beyond the Handshake (Page 14)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Going Beyond the Handshake (Page 15)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Going Beyond the Handshake (Page 16)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Going Beyond the Handshake (Page 17)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Going Beyond the Handshake (Page 18)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Going Beyond the Handshake (Page 19)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Strange Phenomena (Page 20)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Strange Phenomena (Page 21)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Strange Phenomena (Page 22)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Strange Phenomena (Page 23)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Strange Phenomena (Page 24)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Advertisers' Index (Page 25)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Opportunities Direct (Page 26)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Opportunities Direct (Page 27)
LocumLife - October 2010 - City Beat (Page 28)
LocumLife - October 2010 - City Beat (Page 29)
LocumLife - October 2010 - City Beat (Page 30)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Last-Minute Luxury (Page 31)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Anyone's Guess (Page 32)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Anyone's Guess (Page Cover3)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Anyone's Guess (Page Cover4)
LocumLife - October 2010 - Anyone's Guess (Page MM)