Special Event with <em>New York Times Bestselling Author Daniel H. Pink

Drive: What Motivates Health Workers?

Friday, June 17 from 2:30-4:30 pm | The Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, DC

IntraHealth International and CapacityPlus are hosting an interactive event at the 38th Annual International Conference on Global Health (June 13–17 in Washington, DC) featuring Daniel H. Pink, author of the bestselling book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Pink and Barbara Stilwell, IntraHealth’s director of technical leadership, will engage each other and the audience in examining how to improve the motivation, retention—and performance—of health workers.

What motivates health workers to stay and serve and what incentives help them excel?

A higher salary, better manager . . . or nicer facilities and new equipment? What about full medical or nursing tuition paid in exchange for serving in a rural health facility—does that work? And the most basic needs—like running water, electricity, safe living quarters, and fair pay—what are countries doing to improve baseline standards, and which should they prioritize going forward?

Doctors, nurses, and other health workers are often not motivated to work or remain at posts in rural and remote areas. According to the World Health Organization, only about 25% of physicians and 38% of nurses work in rural locations. Who can blame them? Jobs in urban settings—or in richer countries—typically offer higher pay, better working and living environments, more social amenities, and better educational opportunities for families. Read more: CapacityPlus Issue Brief on Retention

What really motivates health workers?

Drawing on his analysis of 50 years of behavioral science and conventional wisdom about human motivation and effective paths to high performance, Pink will share scientific discoveries that fly in the face of modern management techniques—namely that the carrot-and-stick method to motivating people doesn’t work. “If-then” rewards are dangerous, he says; they can actually reduce motivation, and diminish the ability of workers to innovate and creatively solve problems.

His arguments, which are based on the power of intrinsic rewards as opposed to external remuneration, may add to the debate on the thinking behind such health worker performance improvement approaches as performance-based financing, or payment for performance. (Pink’s caveat is that wages and benefits need to be “adequate and fair,” nonissues not distractions. Paying people more costs less in the long run in attrition and output.)

Barbara Stilwell will share her ideas on what works—and what doesn’t—to motivate health workers. Stilwell will discuss methodologies used to determine factors of motivation, and will address key underlying questions related to heath worker motivation: does it matter if health workers really care about their job and the people they are treating? Does “caring” affect performance and health outcomes? If so, why do we seemingly ignore it?


Daniel H. Pink is the author of four provocative books about the changing world of work — including the New York Times bestsellers, A Whole New Mind and Drive, which together have been translated into 31 languages. Pink served as chief speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore, and held other positions in politics and government. He received a JD from Yale Law School but, to his lasting joy, has never practiced law.    Dan Pink
Dr. Barbara Stilwell is an internationally-recognized expert in human resources for health, and a principal author of the World Health Report, 2006. She was named one of the most influential nurses of the past 40 years by the UK’s Nursing Times. She is best known for “inventing” the job of nurse practitioners in the UK, for pioneering the role of this important cadre of health workers under the National Health Service.     Barbara Stilwell


Send your name and affiliation to rsvp@intrahealth.org

Friday, June 17 from 2:30-4:30 pm
The Omni Shoreham Hotel, Ambassador Ballroom
Washington, DC

Conference registration is not required to attend. Appetizers and sandwiches will be served.