The Bridge from Conflict to Opportunity: Keeping Hope Alive in Palliative Medicine


Opening Plenary
Neil MacDonald Award



Healthcare providers have faced enormous stress in their careers, long before the Covid 19 pandemic. Unfortunately, that stress has been heightened due to a pandemic. Although the pandemic moves on in different ways in 2022, its’ impact will linger for years. It is important that we recognize these impacts and ponder together on how we will turn these difficulties into a time of growth and opportunity in our lives, in palliative medicine, and for our patients.
Conflict for health providers is prominent and needs to be addressed. Unaddressed conflict in the workplace makes work less enjoyable, teams less productive, and makes patient partnered care seem out of reach. Conflicts in our palliative work environments have touched all areas and involve highly dedicated professionals, looking for hope.
Most professionals are not aware of how individual differences in approaching conflict hinders forward momentum in the workplace. Understanding simple methods to recognize how to respond to conflict, how to work through difficult situations, and relate to those around you can give a new perspective and understanding regarding how impactful conflict can be. Seeing conflict as a learning opportunity will create a work environment that looks to growth and success. Presenting our learning to our organizational leaders can bring about systemic change.
Without working together, we will not learn what our system needs to be successful. It is important that information gets to those who fund our programs that conflict typically stems from miscommunication, poor collaboration, misaligned expectations, and lack of understanding of common goals. The more we discover, and work together, the more we will retain practitioners and attract new ones.
Palliative medicine professionals can embrace this high conflict time to turn conflict and the learnings from the pandemic to our advantage. Opportunities exist in virtual care integration, chronic illness collaborations, transitions of care collaborations and initiatives, rural and urban integration, increased home supports for patients with life limiting illness, high level education reaching into all our communities, health information integration, and high-level discussions across the country regarding chronic illness and end of life issues. We must be optimistic, work to find individuals in acute care and outpatient communities who are willing to learn from our differences and turn these to opportunities for growth for our patients and teams. Our patients deserve no less!




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