May 8, 2017
For decades, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) tool has been used to learn more about individuals and teams in the workplace. On National Nurses Week, we look at MBTI in the nursing profession.
The MBTI preferences indicate differences in people based on the following:
How they focus their attention or get their energy (extraversion or introversion)
How they perceive or take in information (sensing or intuition)
How they prefer to make decisions (thinking or feeling)
How they orient themselves to the external world (judgment or perception)
ESFJ traits: warm, sympathetic, helpful, decisive, thorough, consistent, conscientious, loyal, diligent
Czech nursing students in 2006. Photo by Vlastimil. (Thumbnail photo: World War II nurses holding hands, from a mostly uncaptioned photo album. Possibly Africa, c. 1943. Photo by gbaku/John Atherton)
Nurse. Look up the word and you'll find several meanings, but they all include an element of care. Look at the profession and you'll find just as many personality types, but according to Myers-Briggs, nursing is an ideal career choice for ESFJs (extroverted feeling, introverted sensing). ESFJs make up about 10% of the population. Known as "Providers," it makes sense that nurses would be included in this group.
Motivated by interaction with people, and gain energy in social situations (Extroversion)
Nurses are key members of patient care teams, as well as advocates for their patients. The position is necessarily a social one.
More concrete than abstract in the way they think. Focused on details and on immediate realities (Sensing) We all love a good flight of fancy, and thinking about future possibilities can be exciting, but when our loved one is in a hospital bed we want someone who has their mind on the here-and-now, with a full grasp of details. That person is the nurse.
Social implications are given more importance than logic (Feeling) Now, wait. We want a nurse who is logical. But think back to healthcare on the USS Enterprise. As the logical one, Spock was often correct, but Leonard "Bones" McCoy was famous for his proud pleadings - "Dammit, Jim! I'm a doctor, not an engineer!" - to a more compassionate view of the human condition. (Non-Trekkie translation: while logic matters, compassion should always have a voice.)
An organized view of the world - more fixed and less flexible (Judging) As an established 'social' team member who is moved by compassion, having a fixed baseline of knowledge and experience which can help them see clearly in uncertain and emotional situations is key for an effective nurse. Yes, they also need to be flexible in considering the possibilities, but when it comes down to knowing what's best, it's good to have a level of confidence to act.
Of course there are many ESTJs out there who are not in the nursing profession. ESTJs make up roughly 10% of the population. One blogger describes the personality type in a colorful post (language warning), Being an ESFJ (Also Known as Mortifying Extroversion):
"I am a good person to have on your side when you are in the dirt. I will defend you. I will be your David. I will not only slay Goliath, I'll go glare at Goliath's friends and family, thump my chest, and scream "YOU WANT SOME??!?!?!" because I protect the ones I love."
This blogger's no nurse, but here she sounds like a protector and advocate. Just like a nurse. Which goes to show, there are nurturers and defenders all around us, in all walks of life. This week, we salute the ones with stethoscopes, tired feet, and ever-ready words of comfort. Your work matters. Thank you.
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator questionnaire was developed in 1943 by a mom and daughter duo. While personality type theory is by no means exact, most who take the time to look into their type via the MBTI find that the descriptions of likes, dislikes, and other tendencies seem spot-on with their personal experiences. And such knowledge can indeed be powerful.
"Good type development can be achieved at any age by anyone who cares to understand his or her own gifts and the appropriate use of those gifts." - Isabel Briggs Myers
Infographic via Truity
Managed by Kittitas Valley Healthcare, Thirty Percenters does not provide medical advice. For medical advice, please see your healthcare professional.