Nurses who are motivated by external rewards will be more likely to stay on the job

When we think about nurses, we tend to think of someone who is highly motivated by social issues and has a strong desire to help others. Our idealcaregiver is a nurturing, altruistically motivated individual, usually a woman, who has innate maternal instincts and a strong desire to help others.

Extrinsic motivation, such as the desire to earn money, receive benefits, or be promoted, is often contrasted against pro-social motivation. The marketplace is seen as a place for extrinsic motives, and care workers are viewed with skepticism. Has even argued that nurses’ willingness to accept lower pay differentiates the “right sort” from those who are highly motivated by external rewards.

Intrinsic motivation can be a combination of social motivation to do good and inherent motivation. In nursing, inherent motivation is often confused with social motivation because we mistakenly equate caring with “kindness.” We also fail to recognize the necessary skills for a competent caregiver and nurse. We assume that a nurse’s enjoyment of a job is derived from helping others and not the job itself.

What is the purpose of motivation?

We don’t care much about the motivations of people in most jobs. Someone can choose to work in finance or manufacturing because they love their work, or they may want to earn money. Nursing, on the other hand, has strong cultural assumptions regarding what kind of motivations someone should have and, of course, what gender that person should be.

However, research that we presented recently at the American Sociological Association Conference suggests that nurses who have a very high level of pro-social motivation may be more likely to experience burnout or emotional exhaustion. These nurses say that they are emotionally exhausted or dread another workday.

Why could being motivated to help others cause burnout? Previous research suggests normal people choose to help others out of respect for themselves, the ability to meet their own needs, and distance. Those who “live through others” or are selfless may confuse their needs with the cared-for person and thus lose boundaries. You can care too much, in other words.

On the other hand, those who reported high levels of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators reported lower levels of burnout and negative physical symptoms. They also said a lower intention of leaving their job.

The findings show that employees who choose a career in care not only for social reasons but also because they are good at it experience less stress, both physically and emotionally.

This can have implications for the way we define a “good nurse” and help us answer questions like whether or not we should be worried that higher wages will alter the nature of care workers’ work or attract “the wrong” people to their job.

The fear of the motives and actions of nurses could be linked to the notion that the marketization of healthcare will automatically bring with it norms that are antithetical to a family-based care ideal. Our findings indicate that motivations that go beyond stereotypes of care can be beneficial to the health of nurses and health organizations.

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