Aggression Directed at Medical Staff

Personal Experience with a Lack of Self-control

Aggression is a detrimental feeling, which may be damaging to both the person who feels it and those around them. In today’s society, interpersonal relationships have acquired a particular value, and this tendency is reflected across most spheres of human activity. In the case of healthcare, stronger bonds between all elements of the system are promoted via the contemporary paradigms of patient-centered service delivery.

Nevertheless, instances of highly aggressive behavior have the potential to mitigate all efforts made by the team to establish a positive environment. In one particular scenario, a middle-aged woman was waiting in line to be registered for her appointment with the physician. There were many visitors at the moment, but the woman appeared to be impatient. When the clinic’s personnel refused to let her pass in front of other patients, she verbally attacked a nurse who was just passing nearby.

As far as I knew, this nurse was about to finish their 24-hour shift, meaning that they felt exhausted. This factor contributed to the mutual tension, which is why the nurse’s response was somewhat inappropriate was the patient communication. A heated exchange of verbal attacks eventually turned physical, as the visiting woman allowed herself to slap the nurse’s face. At this point, other members of the staff intervened to prevent the conflict from developing even further. In the following weeks, this incident was analyzed and widely discussed in the clinic. Evidently, the woman’s behavior was determined by a certain feeling of entitlement to some special treatment, which aggravated an already exhausted nurse. The situational factors contributed to the development of the incident and instigated aggression from both sides.

Analysis of the situation

I witnessed the situation described above from a close distance, meaning that I had to observe it fully. During the first stage of the conflict, as the woman was beginning to become loud and annoying to others, I felt extreme discomfort. It was the point at which the possibility of conflict appeared imminent. The degree of tension grew rapidly, and some portion of it translated into my feelings, as well. In fact, I noticed that people who were in direct contact with the aggressive behavior felt tempted to retaliate in kind, but, in the end, they maintained professionalism, making me admire their self-control. However, the next stage inevitably began while the source of aggression found a responsive individual in the form of an exhausted nurse.

As dictated by the social information processing theory, the latter interpreted the situation in accordance to their perception altered by fatigue (Laue et al., 2018). As a result, the clash ensued, and the growing volume of the fight made me feel anxious. I am a person who avoids conflicts at all costs, and witnessing such a heated one from a close distance was uneasy.

Finally, the exchange of aggression reached its peak once the woman felt aggravated enough to slap the nurse. The climax of the conflict was followed by several moments of complete silence, as everyone feared the situation would grow worse. Fortunately, the nurse did not retaliate and simply stepped aside. However, in order to prevent such a situation from emerging, similar actions were to be taken during the first stage. Vazsonyi et al. (2017) state that extended self-control is confirmed to be instrumental in preventing severe aggression from happening. However, it requires mastery and experience to implement it in all situations automatically, which was not the case in the discussed scenario.

When the issue was analyzed in the following weeks, different prevention strategies were discussed by the management. The visitor’s behavior was considered to be an independent variable, as such people would always exist, causing short-term disturbances around people. However, a higher level of self-control from the nurse could have positively affected the outcome of the situation. As a result, the entire clinic’s staff completed a six-week self-control and aggression management program initiated by the management.


Laue, C., Griffey, M. Lin, P. I., Wallace, K., van der Shoot, M., Horn, P., Pedapati, E., & Barzman, D. (2018). Eye gaze patterns associated with aggressive tendencies in adolescence. Psychiatric Quarterly, 89, 747–756. Web.

Vazsonyi, A. T., Mikuška, J., & Kelley, E. L. (2017). It’s time: A meta-analysis on the self-control-deviance link. Journal of Criminal Justice, 48, 48–63. Web.

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