- AIMS: To determine key factors that stimulate and drive the ongoing interests of leaders in the field of pain to continue to work for change and to explore how they use their own experiences in their teaching. BACKGROUND: The assessment and management of acute and chronic pain remains a challenge and the pain education of pre-licensure/undergraduate health professionals (e.g. nurses, physicians, etc.) continues to be suboptimal. Understanding the motivations of pain leaders may provide insights to facilitate the future development of pain clinicians. DESIGN: A Narrative enquiry. METHODS: A purposeful sample of 17 Canadian and USA leaders in pain education participated. Data were collected between September 2012-January 2013 using recorded semi-structured telephone interviews. Transcripts were coded to provide storied experiences (themes). FINDINGS: Six themes were identified as a stimulus for pain leaders: An early pain experience, mentorship and circumstances, a personal shift in understanding, catalysts (institutional or political), recognition of barriers and a determination to improve. Their work towards change appeared to be motivated by their pain 'quest' where leaders embraced their personal experiences of pain, a need for social action and individual change. CONCLUSIONS: Educational approaches for health professionals usually focus on the importance of knowledge, skills and attitudes to be competent in pain care. To inspire and educate young health professionals about pain management we suggest the development of future pain leaders may require a different approach that recognizes personal stories of pain, includes a local pain champion and incorporates a model of mentorship.