An Occupational Paradox: Why Do We Love Really Tough Jobs?

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Abstract

Background Sometimes we come upon unexpected or counterfactual results during research that make us wonder and lead us into unknown territory. Such was the experience of a team of Air Force researchers exploring aeromedical evacuation crew members' experiences of safety and patient care concerns throughout the en route care system.

Objective To explore what it is about the aeromedical evacuation crew members' occupation that generates a strong motivation to the mission despite the demands it places on its workers.

Methods Eight focus groups were conducted with 69 Air Force aeromedical evacuation and staging facility active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve Command nurses and medical technicians between May 2012 and April 2013 at 5 locations in the contiguous and outside the contiguous United States.

Results An unexpected finding was that despite the austere nature of the Air Force en route care mission and the acuity of the patients being transported, nurses and medical technicians were passionate about bringing home the wounded, sick, and injured warriors and were committed to providing the best and safest care possible.

Conclusion It is plausible that a high level of commitment and mission focus contributes significantly to the safety and well-being of those transported. Still, we must wonder why nurses and technicians voluntarily serve in such a demanding and sometimes dangerous occupation, and yet find such a high degree of satisfaction and contentment with this type of job. (Critical Care Nurse. 2018;38[2]:52-59)

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