Leading through Change and Conflict


Initiating, implementing, and sustaining change – from individual behavioral change to big picture change – is not easy and requires leadership, engaged followership, and accountability. It also requires developing a different skill set in order to lead effectively throughout the process of change and in dealing with different levels or sources of conflict inherent in the change process. The purpose of this session is to examine strategies and tools that can be used by academic and clinical faculty to facilitate change at the individual, team or organizational level while embracing conflict as a means to promote positive outcomes and ensure that change actually begins and continues through goal achievement and for a purposeful Vision of the future.

Methods and/or Description of Project

Physical therapy education is not changing fast enough to meet the ever-evolving demands of clinical practice and the APTA’s vision for the profession of physical therapy. Striving for excellence demands innovation and change. Unfortunately, individuals and teams can get complacent and attached to the “status quo” because leading change and managing conflict can be uncomfortable, requires energy, time, focus and a collective buy-in from all stakeholders. To make the change happen, to keep the change process moving forward, and to lead through times of conflict require new skill sets of personal and positional leaders. By developing new skills to lead through change and conflict, faculty will gain competence and confidence in embrace the needed changes in our academic and clinical environments in a proactive rather than reactive manner.


Participants will leave this session with a foundation of critical strategies needed to approach situations that require individual and collective behavioral change. The use of reflective strategies typically associated with simulation debriefing to address conflict, such as “nonjudgmental” advocacy-inquiry” may provide a non-confrontational bridge to the exploration of behaviors and conceptual challenges in a non-threatening, collaborative manner. Participants will be able to discern key elements needed for collective initiation of innovative change to move physical therapy education from meeting minimum standards to instead reaching for excellence and best practice.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: The Pursuit of Excellence in Physical Therapy Education

Change and conflict are typically perceived as negative aspects of team work and dynamic interpersonal relationships. Often, both are avoided or kept on the “back burner” in an attempt to maintain the status quo or not “rock the boat.” Yet change and conflict can be re-framed as positive elements required for pursuing excellence in physical therapy education.


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ESI International, Inc. (2008). The Change Management Life Style: How to Involve Your People to Ensure Success at Every Stage. White Paper. Available at: www.esi-emea.com. Accessed April 18, 2016.

Hamilton, DM. (2015). Calming Your Brain During Conflict. Harvard Business Review.

Hocking BA. Using Reflection to Resolve Conflict. AORN Journal. 2006; 84(2): 249-259.

Maestre JM, Rudolph JW. Theories and Styles of Debriefing: The Good Judgment Method as a Tool for Formative Assessment in Healthcare. Rev Esp Cardiol. 2015; 68:282-5 - Vol. 68(4).

Prochaska, JO, and Velicer, WF. (1997). The Transtheoretical Model of Health Behavior Change. Am J Healh Promot. Sep-Oct;12(1):38-48.

Rudolph JW, Simon R, Rivard P, Dufresne RL and Raemer DB. Debriefing with Good Judgment: Combining Rigorous Feedback with Genuine Inquiry. Anesthesiology Clinics, 2007-06-01, Volume 25, Issue 2, Pages 361-376, Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Inc.

Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), Available at: https://www.cpp.com/products/tki/index.aspx. Accessed April 18, 2016.

Course Objectives

1. Characterize change and conflict as a welcome process to promote excellence.
2. Explore reasons why change is difficult and often leads to conflict in groups.
3. Examine strategies to safely explore and resolve conflict for positive outcomes.
4. Prepare stakeholders for cultures of empowerment, innovation and change.

Instructional Methods

Lecture, Self-Assessment, Small Group work, Case scenarios (skill development) and Role playing

Tentative Outline/Schedule

Reframing Change: Why More is Needed in Physical Therapy Education and Health Care (15 min.)
Change: Identifying the Change Management Process (10 min.)
Conflict: Explore Different Conflict Management Styles (15 min.)
Examining the Good News about Conflict (10 min.)
Skill Development (15 min.)
Action Planning (15 min.)
Q & A (10 min.)

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  • Control #: 2527701
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2016
  • Authors: Dr. Barbara Tschoepe, Dr. Jennifer Green-Wilson, Diane Clark
  • Keywords:

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