Of the many dimensions of professionalism, I strongly believe that motivation is one of the strongest attributes. While the other characteristics of a professional, such as knowledge, ethics and sense of being, are necessary, motivation requires more than schooling or training to acquire. The world is full of geniuses and individuals who are aware of themselves autonomously and within a community, but without drive, all of the other dimensions fruitless. There is not much that is more frustrating than hearing someone say “that’s not my job”. For health care professionals, patient care is our job, even if it requires doing something that is not in our written job description.
In ophthalmology, there are plenty of driven assistants and technicians but the number of unmotivated and lazy techs seem to outnumber the others. This is bad for all parties. Patients may not be treated for as well or in a timely manner, increasing wait times, physicians are left waiting for said patients, bottlenecking their clinic and the techs who genuinely care about their jobs and people they work up are left picking up the slack. As a staff member who has been in this position, I know firsthand how this scenario creates added stress; we work extra hard to ensure that the service runs smoothly and that both doctors and patients are happy.
Back in 2008, I managed a LensCrafters. One of the first things that the general manager told me was that you can teach skill—fitting glasses, adjustments, using the EMR—but you cannot teach a good attitude. People just have it or they don’t. The good attitude that she was referencing was friendliness for patient care and the motivation to want do more. Though the manager was teaching me about what to look for when interviewing prospective new hires, this has stuck with me. Administrators love when their interviewees possess the will to go above and beyond because there are so many who stop at the end of their job description. The skillset to any profession can be studied and the sense of knowing who you are as a person comes with time but having the motivation to be great is harder to come by.