What drives you? Motivations in choosing a health career


Working in health care is never easy.

Because we are in the business of taking care of sick people and worried families, we see our clients at their worst. Occasionally, we are insulted, we are shamed on the internet, and our skills and experience are questioned. These take their emotional toll on health care workers, who have to put up with poor working conditions, and insufficient pay and benefits. Taking up leadership roles in health care is nothing to sneeze at, either. Because even the littlest decisions affect lives, it is often an emotionally taxing affair to decide on matters that prioritize limited resources, while aiming to help all people who need it.

However, healthcare isn’t all blood, sweat and tears, borrowing the words of Churchill. These difficulties are outweighed by the joy of seeing patients improve, and of receiving gratitude from families. But these joys are more appreciable if one’s motivations are compatible with the rigors of entering the health care profession. Putting it simply, if one’s career interest is helping others for its own sake, then, it would be easier to bear the inescapable hardships of being a health care professional.

There are many sources of motivation for those who choose to take up a health care career. A 2015 Polish study of medical students showed that “altruistic and scientific reasons were the main motives for choosing a health career.” In addition, the study also showed that these factors, among others, greatly influenced medical graduates to prefer a career in the public health sector: job security and “interesting and socially important” work.

Meanwhile, a 2003 study of rural health workers in Vietnam showed that health workers were motivated to work for the following reasons: “appreciation by managers, colleagues and the community, a stable job and income and training.” On the flip-side, prominent factors that discourage them were “low salaries and difficult working conditions.”

Finally, in a 2010 study on nurses and allied medical staff in Cyprus, the following factors were included as sources of motivation: “personal achievement, remuneration, co-workers, and job attributes.” While there are factors already included in the studies previously mentioned, this study includes the perspective of workplace relationships as a positive (and potentially also, a negative) factor in health care careers.

Identifying and keeping to our chosen motivation keeps us oriented in our career goals, and gives the opportunity to assess if we are still helping others for its own sake. Let’s discuss this topic on #HealthXPH: What drives you in your health care career?

T1: What motivated you in choosing a health care career?

T2: What experiences can you think of that seriously challenged your career motivation?

T3: How can we strengthen our career motivation for the welfare of our patients and our job satisfaction?

Join us this Saturday, 16 December 2017, 9PM Philippine Time, 8AM US Eastern Standard Time, on #HealthXPh on Twitter. This is our our last tweetchat for 2017!