Ways to Motivate

Motivate: to stimulate someone's interest in, or enthusiasm for doing something. What motivates you as a person to get a chore done? Maybe the chore is laundry or yard work. I personally avoid doing laundry at all costs. It is just one of those things I really, really do not enjoy. But when it comes down to it, I get motivated to get it done knowing that I won’t have to do it again for several days. Also, knowing that I get to cross it off my to-do list is so satisfying. The thought of doing something I enjoy, like reading my favorite book, or shopping online also pushes me to get that nagging chore finished.

The definition of motivate could also be a secondary definition for Nurse Educator. One of the fun things about being the educator is finding ways to reach students. This could be by introducing an exciting new way to approach something they have already learned. A great example of this is the care plan. I always love showing students how to create concept maps, which basically are just visual care plans. It really takes a plain written nursing care plan and adds some flare and creativity to it which in turn makes it more fun. I have had countless students tell me how much better they like doing concept maps compared to a standard care plan. The thing is, they really are the same thing! Learning new ways to do things can often spark a motivation like no other. Take starting an IV as another example. A student may have tried to insert a new site on a patient with no luck but under direction of a different educator they may learn a new trick about how to position their hand or how to insert that they didn’t know before. This new information leads to the student successfully placing the IV which in turn boosts their motivation! They are now motivated to try again knowing the new tip they learned actually worked!!

As the educator you can be a motivator by example. Showing your students the way of compassion can be achieved by interacting with a disgruntled patient or family member. I have had the opportunity of showing many students how your outlook on a situation can affect the outcome of your interaction. Simply entering the room of a patient who was upset about something that had happened in the prior shift and just actively listening, showing empathy and dissolving the aggressive nature of the situation can, and has for me, proven to motivate students to find their inner compassion.

During this time of crisis with COVID-19, I heard from a student who gave the best statement about motivation. When learning that she would be working on the COVID unit at her facility she said, “I was afraid of bringing it home, afraid of the unknown, afraid of getting it. But then my fear changed to motivation knowing that these patients are very sick and lonely, and they will basically have to go through this all by themselves. They see us nurses as their only constant support through this time. That encouraged me to take a moment to hold their hand, brush their hair and tell them to keep fighting.”

What motivates you? Does the desire to motivate others live within you? If so, a future in nursing education could be for you!!

About the Author


My name is Colleen Wiley and I am a nurse educator. Growing up I always wanted to be a teacher, but I also had an interest in learning about science. I have always loved helping people which is why I chose to pursue a career in nursing. I spent my time in undergraduate nursing school working as a nurse intern on a medical surgical unit. After graduation in 2005, I worked at the bedside caring for post-operative patients and I loved it! Eventually, I started offering to train new employees and I would also take on nursing students for their clinical preceptorship. It was then that I truly realized my real passion was seeded in becoming a nurse educator! I started working as an adjunct clinical instructor in 2010 and immediately knew this was the path for me. A fire was lit inside of me! That burning feeling of helping others was reignited as I shifted my focus from helping sick and/or recovering patients in the acute setting to helping students learn how to become a nurse. I pursued a graduate degree in nursing education which I earned in December of 2014. I have been working as a nurse educator ever since I took that first leap back in 2010.

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