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The Science of Motivation Applied to Clinician Burnout

Lessons for Healthcare

Norton, Jameson, FACHE

Frontiers of Health Services Management: December 2018 - Volume 35 - Issue 2 - p 3–13
doi: 10.1097/HAP.0000000000000049
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SUMMARY The science of motivation can help explain some of the root causes driving clinician burnout, a critical vulnerability in healthcare today. Research finds autonomy, mastery, and purpose to be drivers of intrinsic motivation, and healthcare leaders can use these three principles in program design and communication strategies to make progress toward rediscovering joy and passion in the life-giving work of healthcare. Leaders can achieve a competitive advantage for their organizations by applying these inherent motivators to attract, develop, and retain engaged and purposeful caregivers and by developing participative leadership to nurture a passion for caregiving.

In healthcare, we enjoy the privilege of serving with intelligent and caring people who are driven to make a difference on behalf of those they serve. But we also experience the human factors, friction, and uncertainty in a highly complex delivery and reimbursement structure. Each day in our hospitals, clinicians and staff face a marathon of adrenaline, stress, physical fatigue, mental strain, and emotional heights and depths. This reality demands grit and resilience to sustain the high standards of excellence and compassion necessary for delivering personalized care.

Before healthcare organizations launch new programs to address these challenges, however, we must align our leadership and communication approaches with the fundamental drivers of motivation that brought us to healthcare in the first place—and in a way that brings out the best in our care teams and builds their creative capacity for any future challenges.

Jameson Norton, FACHE, is CEO of Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

© 2018 Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives
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