“Nursing is a work of heart.” “Caring is the essence of nursing.” “Nurses are angels in comfortable shoes.” Do these slogans motivate nurses to invest more in their jobs? Perhaps, but studies show that caring more may not translate into career longevity.
There’s a new study out and the take-away is essentially that the nurses who care the most burn out the fastest. The research was performed out of the University of Akron by authors Janette Dill, an assistant professor of sociology, Rebecca Erickson, a professor of sociology, and James Diefendorff, an associate professor of psychology on a population of RN’s consisting of 90% white females in northeast Ohio. The study concludes that people entering the field for reasons in addition to or other than the desire to help others found the job to be less stressful. This in turn resulted in nurses with less burnout, better health and a higher commitment to their job.
The researchers say that the desire to help others is often assumed to be the “right” motivation for becoming a nurse. In other careers, the worker is not expected to be an “angel” in order to do a good job fixing a tire, writing the will or for balancing the budget.
Dill says healthcare is different. “We expect women to go into these jobs because they love the people that they’re caring for, and this is their primary motivator.” If that cultural assumption can be changed, she says, more men might be attracted to nursing and “might not necessarily feel that their whole self has to be devoted to their patients — that they can value their job for other reasons as well.”
Nursing, historically, is a female dominated profession, so traditional gender roles will inevitably be present whether you are a female or male nurse trying to learn the job. Nursing has always been professional work, but in it’s origin, nurses were only female, they were required to be single and it was expected that they devoted themselves totally and utterly to their work. Nursing has grown and changed with the times, but has the traditional image of the nurse totally evolved?
In the study, those nurses who were motivated by the lifestyle a nursing career provided or who enjoyed the personal interaction with their patients are more satisfied in their work. They were also less likely to say that they would quit their jobs within the next year.
About the Author
Sarah Heroman is an RN, BSN who has found her niche as a school nurse in Texas. With almost 20 years of experience, Sarah is still passionate about the nursing field and enjoys mentoring and helping nurses continue to find the joy in their careers. She believes that a good nurse is able to combine the science and the art of nursing and find fulfillment in providing the best care for their patients.