Nursing is a field that is in constant state of change. As teaching methods have evolved over the years, so has the outlook of the students. Different generations of nurses have been taught the same medical information and procedures using an ever changing methodology. Viewpoints pertaining to practical nursing have changed as to how patients and healthcare is perceived. Changes in how the healthcare system operates has also given rise to new insights in the managing of healthcare and treatment plans. Multi-generational Differences With several generations of nurses working together, different views and methods must co-exist to create a positive and productive work environment. Each generation brings its own outlook, methods of doing things and way of thinking. Finding ways for nurses from each generation of learning is imperative if they are to learn to work together in harmony and teach other valuable lessons learned through time and experience. To be able to find a peaceful balance, multi-generational teams must face several obstacles and differences that can create challenges and cause conflict. A few of these include:
- changes in procedures
- changes in protocols
- differences in attitudes
- respect for authority and tradition
- different types of knowledge
- knowledge vs. experience
Conflict Resolution Managing practical nursing teams that are comprised of several different generations means having the ability to recognize areas of conflict and address them before they cause problems. Conflicts that arise because of a difference in how procedures are performed should be addressed immediately by the managing physician. While both methods being suggested are viable, the comfort of the patient is always the main concern. Discussing or arguing over a method or practice should be handled away from the patient as to not cause them stress or upset. Each situation is different and must be handled according to its own merit. Teaching methods that were taught several years ago are still in use today, but new technology has made many obsolete. Nurses who have recently graduated from college have been taught how to do certain procedures using new equipment. Many practices are no longer part of educational curriculums. Members of management in charge of conflict resolution must remember all schools of training should be respected if they have proven to be valid and worthy of accreditation.
- When conflicts do arise, the following steps may help diffuse the situation.
- Make sure discussions are held in private
- Listen to both sides
- Ask questions as to how the situation evolved
- Take into consideration both sides before determining the outcome
- Mediate between both parties in an attempt to help them work the situation out on their own
- If no middle ground can be found, decide on a plan of action, explaining the outcome to all parties involved
Learning from One Another Teams in practical nursing that have graduates from different generations have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Nurses from each generation can learn from one another if conflict can be avoided. Encouraging nurses to share ideas and ask questions about methods and techniques they do not understand will not only build a more cohesive and unified team, it will spread the wealth of knowledge and experience among all members. Learning the older methods of doing thing is just as important as knowing more modern methods that are highly influenced by technology. The sharing of ideas and information helps to eliminate tension between co-workers and reduces the instance of conflict. Individuals who have worked in the healthcare industry but are just now considering a return to college to pursue a practical nursing degree, will benefit from technology's influences on nursing programs and new methods of treatment that are being used. Having been in the industry for several years, they will be able to appreciate the many changes being made concerning protocols and treatment plans. Their past experience will offer them additional benefits in understanding concepts and skills being taught.
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