We all know that a personal trainer or a parent trying to potty-train their child needs to use the skill of motivation - but how exactly does motivation apply to healthcare professionals?
Motivation as a Skill: What Does That Really Mean?
It is one thing to convince someone to treat their illness, but it is entirely another to inspire them to change their behavior to prevent an illness that hasn't happened yet. The healthcare system stands to save billions of dollars if preventative care can be executed successfully.
Physicians are called upon to be leaders, setting meaningful goals with patients and providing a supportive relationship as patients work toward those goals. A physician who is an expert motivator will shape the values of their institution, moving the medical system in the direction of change to enhance services and outcomes. A successful motivator will proactively identify valuable priorities and encourage their attainment without micromanaging.
Healthcare professionals must also be motivated to generate personal practice improvement and lifelong learning in the face of a rapidly changing healthcare system. A successful motivator will leverage a network of supportive relationships in their life to accomplish aims that they could not achieve on their own.
Motivation in a Professional Setting
In order to better understand how to perform well on motivation metrics on CASPer, it is helpful to understand why this is being measured in the first place.
Why are medical schools and other health professions programs so interested in assessing motivation?
Let's look at an example in a professional context for some insight. Below, we'll share an example of an internal medicine resident who is an expert motivator.
55-year-old Alek was trying to fall asleep on the internal medicine ward. He was kept awake by the constant beeping and humming and the lack of privacy, with only a curtain separating him from the two other patients in the room. He had been admitted for a painful episode of pancreatitis, caused by his heavy and habitual alcohol consumption. Alek knew he had a problem, but he hadn't been able to quit.
The next morning, Alek was greeted by Dr. Urschel, the resident who had been taking care of him during his stay. "Your blood work is looking great, Alek. If you're feeling up to it, I think we can send you home today."
The patient laughed, "Finally! I haven't slept a wink here."
"Before you go, Alek, I would like to talk to you about making changes to your alcohol consumption." Dr. Urschel had put in effort to develop a rapport with Alek, knowing that for the conversation to be effective, it would require an alliance between them; a partnership where Dr. Urschel would bring the expertise of medicine, and Alek would bring the expertise of his own life.
"I guess," Alek replied, looking ambivalent. Dr. Urschel decided to tap into Alek's intrinsic values and feelings to motivate him.
"How do you think that alcohol has been holding you back from living the way you would like to?" Alek responded by discussing his family, his health and his job.
"What do you think could improve if you were to stop drinking?" Dr. Urschel asked this to help Alek develop an awareness of the discrepancy between his goals and his behavior.
The resident avoided being aggressive or confrontational and listened reflectively to what Alek had to say; complimenting him for his small triumphs and avoiding denigrating Alek's shortcomings. The resident was empathetic and supportive, gently persuading Alek, while letting him know that the decision to change was his own.
Alek responded to the rapport they had developed and the safe and open environment that the resident had fostered. Dr. Urschel helped Alek identify strategies for change, and promised to give him the resources they had discussed when Alek would be discharged later that day.
This hospital admission wouldn't be the end of Alek's drinking, but thanks to Dr. Urschel, it would be the beginning of the end, and the first step on the road to recovery.
An expert motivator is effective at utilizing strategies to inspire change in others and knows how to set goals that are specific, attainable and relevant to the person who will be accomplishing the goal, as well as understanding how to work within a system to effect institutional and structural changes.
Dr. Urschel built a collaborative partnership with Alek to lay a foundation for their motivational discussion. Dr. Urschel then discovered what was important to Alek, and used this to help him recognize his need for change and inspire him to do so. By reflectively listening and providing a supportive environment, Dr. Urschel was able to effectively motivate Alek to toward recovery.
Given this example, you can understand why medical schools and other health professions programs find it a necessity to choose applicants with strong motivational skills.
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