Term Paper: Motivation in Health Care Desire

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[. . .] As shown above, a lot can be achieved by throwing money into the system. Thus, plausible reward scenarios include reasonable workloads, employment stability, decent pay and benefits, and a chance for upward mobility. Here the Process Model of motivation is clearly beneficial. The question one can ask then is: Is this enough of a motivator? And, can it assuage all concerns and solve all problems associated with personnel in the health care system? Henry Ford, creator of the automobile industry and the person who established efficient shop floor methodologies might be considered the pioneer of applying Process Theory to the automobile industry. However, Mr. Ford was also cognizant of other aspects of a worker's personality. His entire approach to personnel management can be summed up by paraphrasing his recognition that though (while hiring) he needed only a pair of human hands, the entire human being came attached with it. (Zich, 1998) This means that while rewards are important motivational factors, they are also holistic aspects to humans that need to be fulfilled. Let's consider how the content model which takes into account these human features can be applied to the health care industry.

The content model is based on the human aspects of need fulfillment. In the United States, even for the worker at the lowest rung, Maslow's Basic Needs will not be considered. This is not to be presumptuous in believing that if the job is not available another one will soon come up. The social security structure set up in developing nations precludes fear of dying of, for instance, starvation. Only through egregious behavior and unfortunate, extrinsic circumstances will basic needs not be met for a person in the United States. In the health care sector; and indeed, in most organizational and corporate settings, it is becoming quickly clear that merely providing higher salaries and added benefits is not enough of a motivator. Then what are the basic needs of the health care worker? Some of these needs are specific to health care, whereas others are generic needs.

Let's begin by exploring the highest need for motivation -- self-actualization. In health care, self-actualization is directly visible among those directly in touch with the patients. Doctors might pursue medicine because they have the necessary attributes. Physicians come to see themselves as healers and might feel that they have a special calling to be this. Researchers who study results of clinical trials or are involved in biomedical research may similarly feel the same need for self-actualization. While the intellectual demands of being a registered nurse are not the same as that for physicians, they might seek self-actualization through one on one patient care -- altruism. For others in the health care industry, the self-actualization needs might vary. Accountants, for example, are by nature people who are very detail oriented with a good flair for mathematics. Human resource personnel might view their jobs as a fulfillment of their abilities to communicate. In some cases, workers might necessarily see the job only as a means to an end without specific fulfillment from the domain of work in which they find themselves.

Suzanne Ione Shiff has written a comprehensive paper on what health care organizations need to address while hiring new workers with the primary aim being: their long-term retention in the organization. Her work titled, "Learning the Ropes," (Wanous, Poland, Premack, & Davis, 1992) It is important to understand relatedness and growth in the context of motivation. Shiff avers that these include the need to work in friendly environs where mutual respect is the rule, and not the exception. She also supports the need for people to feel comfortable with higher ups and peers in terms of communicating. Motivation to perform at work stems from the fulfilled needs of self-esteem, independence, personal involvement in the work and the need to be challenged to avoid monotony and boredom.

The paper calls for the Socialization and Esteem parameters to be the most important in motivating the person to work. This is very important in the hiring and the retaining of staff. The orientation program is where the standard of motivational need fulfillment is established. It is important for health care organizations to recognize the inevitable learning curve. Organizations are also very large; learning the ins and outs are difficult for even seasoned employees. Also for people who are shifting careers or are in states of flux in their lives, the new job if not presented correctly, can result in fear and frustrations that will not go away for the rest of their tenure at the new organization.

If Wanous' motivational points were to be fully applied to the health care industry, the recruiting and orientation would be very important motivators. The orientation and the employee work environment should include provisions for psychological safety. This is important because it assures the worker that learning a different job does not erase a preexisting sense of self. Mentors are very important for a worker in the health care industry. Learning help and reliance can then be passed on to junior staff. It is important that rewards are connected to process of learning. This same applies to mistakes. Managerial styles and the organizational culture established in a health care facility can provide a medium for friendly and mutually beneficial exchange. Good managerial attributes involve establishing clear guidelines and behaviors and expectations of each employee. In addition, the manager should realize the need for a person to challenge himself or herself. Each person is a unique individual, recognizing the individual talent a person brings to the job is important. A work environment that that is characterized, from the beginning, by mutual honesty, respect, trust, openness, support for continuous growth and regard for each other's best interests. (Franco, Bennett, & Kanfer, 2002) Leaders of successful organizations recognize this and bring it to the fullest. It is obvious that the above are applicable to every worker in the health care industry just as it is everywhere else.

In conclusion, therefore, the health care sector is like any other industry. The additional fact is that physical and emotional well being of patients is the end product of this industry. The stakes are therefore high when the success of this industry is measured. We have explored the content and process theories of motivation in this sector. It is easy to see therefore that one cannot exist without the other. Process theory involves rewards such a higher salaries and better infrastructure. These are extrinsic factors. But the intrinsic needs of a person -- the higher needs -- cannot be fulfilled if a person has to come to work (despite higher pay and better benefits) filled with trepidation because the environment is not conducive to good work or the emotional well-being of the worker. This is where features of content model also works as effective motivators.


Albany.edu. (2003). Theories of Work Motivation. Albany.edu. Retrieved December 23, 2003, from the World Wide Web: http://www.albany.edu/psy/courses/341/iyer/lect/mar30.html

Franco, L.M., Bennett, S., & Kanfer, R. (2002). Health sector reform and public sector health worker motivation: a conceptual framework. Soc Sci Med, 54(8), 1255-1266.

Gwynne, R. (1997). Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. UTK.edu. Retrieved December 23, 2003, from the World Wide Web: http://web.utk.edu/~gwynne/maslow.htm

Sherman, R. (2000). Motivation. Units.muohio.edu. Retrieved December 23, 2003, from the World Wide Web: http://www.units.muohio.edu/psybersite/workplace/motivation.shtml

Shiff, S.I. (2001). Learning the Ropes: Orienting, Socializing and Valuing New Employees in an Organization. Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA.

Wanous, J.P., Poland, T.D., Premack, S.L., & Davis, K.S. (1992). The effects of met expectations on newcomer attitudes and behaviors: a review and meta-analysis. J Appl Psychol, 77(3), 288-297.

Zich, J. (1998). Ideas: We're All in This Together. Stanford Business School. Retrieved December 22, 2003, from the World Wide Web: http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/community/bmag/sbsm9809/ideas.html [END OF PREVIEW]

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