The motivation of human resources and in particular of the nursing staff is a crucial issue that influences their job satisfaction, as well as patients' satisfaction from the health services offered. Aim: The presentation of selected motivation theories through literature review and the development of a framework of realistic motives applied to the nursing staff of a public hospital. Material-Method: The Greek and international bibliography has been reviewed, and in particular papers on the motivation theories of human resources in hospitals (the hierarchy of human needs theory, the two-factor theory of motivation, the achievement theory of motivation, and the expectancy theory) published during the last ten years via PubMed and Science Direct. Results: A series of motives could be developed that by themselves are not the solution to the problem of employee performance and effectiveness, and their application could be a combination of different models or examined case by case, depending on the functional department of the public hospital. The economic motives and the negative motives cannot, by and large, be applied by management, thus, motives having to do with training, organization and coordination of human resources, communication and fair treatment are the most realistic and applicable ones, for this particular workplace. Conclusions: The motives presented in the current paper are not the panacea for the work performance and effectiveness and they are not a complete record of all potential motives. The application of motives could be combinational or could be contingently examined for the department of the public hospital applied, as well as the nursing staff employed, i.e., specificities related to knowledge, experience, abilities. Furthermore, the duties performed by the nursing staff and the policy implemented by management towards the human resources affect the offered motives.