Interpersonal Paradigms In The Emergency Department Essay

Length: 10 pages Sources: 15 Subject: Health - Nursing Type: Essay Paper: #23138996 Related Topics: Emergency Room, Carl Rogers, Neuroscience, Interpersonal Communication
Excerpt from Essay :

¶ … Range Nursing Theories

As a profession, nursing presents many challenges. Indeed, it is one of the most stress inducing jobs in the world, not only in terms of the physical toll and long hours, but also because of the emotionally exhausting nature of the work. For this reason, personnel turnover tends to be high and there is a general shortage of nursing personnel at hospitals. Because of the vital nature of the profession to the healthcare field and to humanity in general, many researchers have addressed the problem of high personnel turnover in the nursing profession, as well as factors like leadership, work efficiency and interpersonal relationships.

Of all the work environments within the nursing profession, the Emergency Room is probably the most stressful, which also leads to high personnel turnover. One approach towards a resolution is to find ways of enhancing nursing staff satisfaction. Increased satisfaction at work would lead to greater commitment and a lower tendency to leave the workplace for greener pastures. As such, two middle range theories will be evaluated for their applicability to the quest of improving nursing staff satisfaction in the emergency department.

Description of Clinical Practice Problem

Burn-out is one of the most common problems faced by nurses today. This is a particular challenge in the emergence department, where overcrowding of patients, leadership challenges, logistical problems and a basic lack of satisfaction among both personnel and patients tend to be part and parcel of the work day. For this reason, leadership is one of the most important components in the medical profession, and particularly in high-stress environments like the emergency room.

According to Lin et al. (2011, p. 239), leadership has an effect on every aspect of nursing, including work attendance, productivity, performance, and work satisfaction. Good leadership would lead to good nursing outcomes, whereas poor leadership would necessarily lead to an increase of stress factors, such as poor job satisfaction. Indeed, the authors go as far as mentioning that leadership could affect not only the performance, but the very survival of the organization. As such, a leader in such a role needs to recognize that his or her function is no longer a solely medical one, but that it entails all the components of leadership in the organization, including ensuring that personnel are satisfied and committed to their work.

A particular challenge in the emergency department is that the nature of the work is not only continuously changing; it also entails a high velocity of actions during critical care in an environment that is a complex mixture of relationships among staff members, leadership, and patients receiving care. Effective leadership is therefore vital in order to ensure the smooth operation of such an often volatile environment.

As such, a good emergency department would be the result of not only the experience and technical skills of the leader, but also of his or her behavior and interpersonal skills. Without the effective management of relationships, leaders in the emergency environment cannot operate in an effective way.

As mentioned, effective leadership would affect the commitment employees display in the workplace. Without a committed workforce, the emergency department would battle to maintain a consistent level of excellence in their care. Myer and Maltin (2010, p. 334) emphasize the importance of commitment among employees and the benefits that this has not only for employers, but also for the workforce itself. According to the authors, a high level of commitment among employees has been shown to correlate well with employee satisfaction. This applies particularly to the emergency environment, since a high level of commitment would also relate to lower stress levels and a greater sense of meaning in the workplace.

One particular factor that leads to stress among emergency department employees is patient overcrowding. This leads to a sense of rush as employees struggle to meet the needs of all the patients coming into the emergency room. The stress created by this detracts from effective employee-employer relationships...


Rowe et al. (2011) suggest that operational processes could be used to remedy this problem. Again, it comes down to effective relationships among team members and employers to implement and manage such logistical changes effectively.

Hwang, Younsuk, and Hojung (2011) place the same emphasis on physical structure and process management in order to improve the quality of healthcare. They suggest that critical pathways play a vital role in ensuring the effective functioning of multidisciplinary teams within healthcare.

In short, the basis of staff satisfaction should begin with effective interpersonal relationships, which would affect behavioral paradigms. There are many relationships among emergency department staff members. These include the leader-follower relationship, relationships among colleagues, those among team members, and those among team members and team leaders. These should be managed effectively, with communication skills set up in such a way that concerns can be openly discussed, suggestions made, and changes implemented as necessary.

When effective communication and relationships are in place, more practical concerns like process issues and the flow of patients can be handled effectively as well. Two particular middle range theories that can be evaluated in order to apply to the enhancement of staff satisfaction in the emergency department include Harry Stack Sullivan's interpersonal theory and Carl Rogers' person-centered theory.

Interpersonal Theory

Harry Stack Sullivan's theory was positioned in terms of developmental theory. His central premise was that every person exists as part of a relationship network with other people (Penckofer et al., 2011). It is impossible to exist without at least some influence from these. When an individual is a young child, for example, there is a particular dependence upon interpersonal relationships. This dependence upon others continues throughout the human lifetime.

In terms of nursing theory, the application of this theory has resulted in Pelau's nursing theory, where she took Sullivan's idea of degree of anxiety in terms of interpersonal relationships further by describing four levels of such anxiety. These include mild, moderate, severe, and panic levels (Penckofer et al., 2011). Nurses then use these levels as a means of assessing anxiety among patients. Once the anxiety level has been assessed, it is the task of the nurse to assist patients to manage the anxiety by turning it into constructive action. The nurse then functions as an effective component within the interpersonal relationships experienced by the patient at the time. This relationship is then used in terms of creating a supportive environment for the patient.


By naming it, both Sullivan and Peplau have created an explicit middle range theory. The social significance of the theory relates to the condition of anxiety experienced by a large number of patients when entering the emergency department. Most such patients have experienced an unforeseen trauma and the anxiety level will tend to be high. Its theoretical significance relates to the precise explanation of the psychological condition of patients and how this can be managed by nursing staff. Concepts such as interpersonal relationships, dynamism, and anxiety are clearly defined and explained, ensuring the internal validity of the theory, with consistency in terms of the definitions and terms.

The reasoning related to the theory is appropriate. Deductive reasoning is used to arrive at a theory of interpersonal relationships. Observing that people are continually dependent upon each other and influenced by this dependency throughout the lifespan, Peplau deduced that this dependency could be used to reduce anxiety and other negative experiences within the clinical setting. Various studies have been applied to support this theory, making it empirically viable, particularly in the field of psychology. As such, the idea of participant-observer indicates that patients must participate in their healing process. This is a vital part of ensuring that negative emotions such as anxiety and fear can be eliminated and turned to good use to speed up the healing process.


While the interpersonal theory traditionally applies to the nurse-patient relationship, it can also be used to apply to the clinical setting in the emergency department and interpersonal relationships among staff. First, the theory applies to the ideal of effectiveness. When a nurse interacts effectively with a patient, he or she experiences the satisfaction of effectively alleviating anxiety and helping the patient cope better with the stress-inducing injury. The same is true of family members who have entered the facility.

A second component of this is the leader-follower relationship. In this case, the participant-observer paradigm is applicable. While leaders identify the actions and logistics within the department, nurses must be part of the process by actively participating in suggestions and improvements. There should be an open communication channel among nursing staff and their leaders.

Finally, team work applies in terms of both anxiety reduction and the participant-observer paradigm. Anxiety can be significantly reduced when nursing staff work in teams, since this means a lighter workload, while also including team members who work together on similar problems. The psychological sense of support is important to reduce stress among nursing staff and to increase satisfaction. This relates closely to the…

Sources Used in Documents:


Hopwood, C.J., Wright, A.G.C., Pincus, A.L. (2013, Jun.) The interpersonal core of personality pathology. Journal of Personality Disorders. 27(3). Retrieved from:

Hwang, T.G., Younsuk, L., and Hojung, S. (2011, Jul. 1). Structure-oriented vs. process-oriented approach to enhance efficiency for emergency room operations: what lessons can we learn? Journal of Healthcare Management. 56(4). Retrieved from:

Lin, B.Y-J., Hsu, C-P.C., Juan, C-W., Lin, C-C., Lin, H-J., and Chen, J-H. (2011). The role of leader behaviors in hospital-based emergency departments' unit performance and employee work satisfaction. Social Science & Medicine. 72. Retrieved from:

Lipsitz, J.D. And Markowitz, J.C. (2013). Mechanisms of change in interpersonal therapy. Clinical Psychology Review. 33.
Meyer, J.P. And Maltin, E.R. (2010). Employee commitment and well-being: A critical review, theoretical framework and research agenda. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 77. Retrieved from:
Penckofer, S., Byrn, M., Mumby, P., and Ferrans, C.E. (2011, Apr.) Improving Subject Recruitment, Retention, and Participation in Research through Peplau's Theory of Interpersonal Relations. Nursing Science Quarterly. 24(2). Retrieved from:
Rowe, B.H., Villa-Roel, C., Buo, X, Bullard, M.J., Ospina, M., Vandermeer, B., Innes, G., Schull, M.J., and Holroyd, B.R. (2011, Jun. 21). The Role of Triage Nurse Ordering on Mitigating Overcrowding in Emergency Departments: A Systematic Review. Academic Emergency Medicine. 18(12). Retrieved from:
Silani, G., Zucconi, A., and Lamm, C. (2013). Car Rogers Meets the Neurosciences: Insights from Social Neuroscience for Client-Centered Therapy. Retrieved from:

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