Three insights, two programs, one theory: Transformative practices as opportunities for moral growth in the healthcare workplace

DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1002/crq.21263
Date01 September 2019
Published date01 September 2019
RESEARCH ARTICLE
Three insights, two programs, one theory:
Transformative practices as opportunities for moral
growth in the healthcare workplace
Barbara J. Solarz
1
| Angie Gaspar
2
1
Workplace Conflict Resolution Program,
Nova Scotia Health Authority, Halifax,
Nova Scotia, Canada
2
Staff Counselling, Stress Management and
Conflict Resolution, Imperial College
Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
Correspondence
Barbara J. Solarz, Workplace Conflict
Resolution Program, Nova Scotia Health
Authority, 1276 South Park Street, Halifax
NS B3H 2Y9, Canada.
Email: Basia.Solarz@nshealth.ca
Abstract
Increasing demands on healthcare systems and complex
pressures within healthcare settings create the conditions
for workplace conflict; this inevitably has a detrimental
impact on patient care and worker morale. We present two
case studies illustrating how training and conflict coaching
premised on the transformative model reduced organiza-
tional costs, increased employee engagement, and restored
healthcare workers' ability to care for patients. Transfor-
mative theory and insights, which center on increasing
awareness and development of one's moral identity, prove
to be especially well-suited to the healthcare workplace
where caring for others is of primary concern.
1|CONTEXT
Healthcare is a highly challenging environment with healthcare workers reporting more than any
other employee group that their jobs are highly stressful (Wilkins, 2007). Every day, individuals
working in this environment are expected to deal with the differing stresses of caring for others with
acute injuries and conditions as well as chronic and terminal illnesses. The constant exposure to the
suffering of others and the sometimes inability to eliminate or reduce it can result in empathic dis-
tress, which has implications for standards of patient care as well as negative impacts on a worker's
mental and physical well-being (Cocker & Joss, 2016). Like policing and aviation, healthcare is a
high stakes workplace, where decisions made in error could worsen a person's health status or even
result in their untimely death.
In both the United Kingdom and Canada, the social safety net that provides healthcare to all citi-
zens is challenged on multiple fronts. Both countries are struggling to care for an aging population as
well as increasing numbers of patients with chronic multiple morbidities (Sambamoorthi, Tan, &
Deb, 2015; Vogeli et al., 2007), whose predictably higher demand for healthcare services is being
Received: 31 October 2018 Revised: 2 May 2019 Accepted: 14 June 2019
DOI: 10.1002/crq.21263
Conflict Resolution Quarterly. 2019;37:6778. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/crq © 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 67

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