Intrinsic Motivation and Work Experiences

This paper is a reflection of two incidences in my professional career when I felt fulfilled and unfulfilled. The goal of the overall assessment is to understand the power of intrinsic motivation on human work experiences. Through this introspective exercise, it is possible to understand what motivates workers to perform well in their jobs and comprehend the mental framework through which job satisfaction is realized. The section below outlines an incident of professional fulfillment in my career.

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Professional Fulfillment

In 2014, I felt intrinsically motivated to do my work as a registered nurse (RN) at Orchard Health Care Facility in Alabama. My job setting was a nursing home for elderly patients. As an RN at the facility, my duties and responsibilities included assessing, ordering, interpreting and evaluating patients’ diagnostic results, providing primary and emergency care for emergency and non-emergency injuries, collaborating with the nursing team to create patients’ plan of care, and directing or guiding ancillary personnel.

The intrinsic motivator that contributed to my job fulfillment was a meaningful purpose in my work. I could turn almost any bad situation into a good one by focusing on the positive aspects of the event as opposed to its negative side. Morse (2012) alludes to this attribute in his article titled “The Science behind the Smile.” The key to accessing this“state of happiness” lies in creating a mental shift (Achor, 2012).

One time, I was suspended from duty because a patient was injuredin an incident that wascaused by negligence on the part of the healthcare staff. I was blamed for theinjury because I failed to provide a proper care plan that would prevent it from happening. Instead of going home and being angry with the management for getting their facts wrong, I chose to remain positive and pursue a passion project I always wanted to finish. I gladly did so and after investigations were done, it was established that I was innocent of the accusations andlater reinstated. At the time of resuming work, I had completed the passion project.

In another incident, I used the same transformational mindset to maintain a positive attitude when I chose to help a disgruntled colleague to finish a project. She did not expect me to do so because of a disagreement we had a couple of months back about a job we were supposed to do together. Eventually, we became good friends. As in the other example, I did not harbor ill feelings towards this colleague and made a good situation out of a bad one. These two incidents show how having a meaningful purposehelped me to make sense of my work and fulfill my career purpose as well.

Lack of Professional Fulfillment

Comparatively, one time when I felt professionally unfulfilled was when I was working as a data entry clerk at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. My roles and responsibilities included preparing source data for computer entry, processing patients’ and account source documents, recordingnew data, maintaining data entry requirements, verifying account data and purging files to eliminate data duplication.

I was unhappy with my job as a data entry clerk because I could not maintain a positive work-life balance. In other words, I felt that my work was denying me the opportunity to spend time with my friends and family members and to pursue a passion project I was undertaking. My professional performance was affected negatively because I could not concentrate on my work. Consequently, I became grumpy towards my workmates.

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For example, there was one incident where a colleague gave me wrong demographic details for a patient, which I relied on to update a file. I later learned that this was a mistake and engaged the colleague in an hour-longconversationabout the error. I ended up hurling insults and abuses at her even though she had apologized for the mistake. This was “out of character” for me. When it was over, I realized that I had gone “too far.”

After a day or two of introspection, I understood that my outburst was a product of my frustration with work. I approached the issue as ifshe was the source of all my problems and I was venting as opposed to addressing the issue that had occurred in the first place. “Choice” was an absent motivator in this example because I decided to focus on the negative attributes of my life, thereby creating a lack of objectivity in my work. In another example, I deliberately feigned sickness to avoid going to work. Although I was not reprimanded for the same, I started to view my work negatively to the extent that I felt like reporting for duty wasa task I had to accomplish as opposed to something I was looking forward to do.Based on the works of Muha and Manion (2010), the lack of a meaningful purpose was the absent motivator.

Creating a Fulfilling Environment

As a nurse manager, I would implement organization and department-wide changes that center on the promotion of teamwork and relationship building to create an engaging environment for employees. This suggestion aligns with the views of Muha and Manion (2010), who say that positive relationships often occur when there are at least five positive interactions for every negative experience. In line with this suggestion, as a nurse manager, I would maintain an interest in the lives of my subjects at professional and personal levels, as proposed by Vandercammen, Hofmans, and Theuns (2014). Muha and Manion (2010) also note that this strategy is effective in promoting positive relationships in the workplace and integral in creating a loyal and hard-working staff.

Another intrinsic motivator that I could employ as a nurse manager is maintaining a sense of proactivity in the organization. This view is premised on the fact that human functioning often increases when employees work in an environment that promotes proactivity (Ng, 2018; Schutte et al., 2017; Boekeloo, Jones, Bhagat, Siddiqui, & Wang, 2015; Wisotzkey, Bell, & Grim, 2011). As a nurse manager, I would allow employees to work in departments or in job assignments that tap into their strengths. This approach is designed to create a reputation that the healthcare facility takes care of its employees (Wisotzkey, Bell, & Grim, 2011).


As highlighted from the onset of this study, this paper is a reflection of the impact of intrinsic motivation on my professional experience. Healthy relationships, choice, and meaningful purpose emerged as the intrinsic factors affecting my happiness as a nurse and data entry clerk. These motivators need to be present to promote employee growth and development. Overall, creating an environment where workers are excited to do their job is integral in promoting personal and organizational growth.


Achor, S. (2012). Positive intelligence. Harvard Business Review, 90(1), 100-102.

Boekeloo, B.O., Jones, C., Bhagat, K., Siddiqui, J., & Wang, M.Q. (2015). The role of intrinsic motivation in the pursuit of health science-related careers among youth from underrepresented low socioeconomic populations. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 92(5), 980–994. Web.

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Morse, G. (2012). The science behind the smile: Interview with Daniel Gilbert. Harvard Business Review, 90(1), 84–90.

Muha, T.M., & Manion, J. (2010). Using positive psychology to engage your staff during difficult times. Nurse Leader, 8(1), 50–54.

Ng, B. (2018). The neuroscience of growth mindset and intrinsic motivation. Brain Sciences, 8(2), 20. Web.

Schutte, T., Tichelaar, J., Dekker, R.S., Thijs, A., de Vries, T.P.G.M., Kusurkar, R.A., … van Agtmael, M.A. (2017). Motivation and competence of participants in a learner-centered student-run clinic: An exploratory pilot study. BMC Medical Education, 17, 23. Web.

Vandercammen, L., Hofmans, J., & Theuns, P. (2014). Relating specific emotions to intrinsic motivation: On the moderating role of positive and negative emotion differentiationPLoS ONE, 9(12), 1-10. Web.

Wisotzkey, S., Bell, T.D., & Grim, R. (2011). Connect and engage for better nurse retention. Nursing Management, 42(10), 14-18.

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