While finely-honed skills and experience are important in a doctor, emotional intelligence also plays a key role.
Having high emotional intelligence (EI) isn't just about being in tune with your own emotions. It also entails being in tune with the emotions of others. This understanding should be able to help you more effectively navigate your behavior and relationships with others.
In a new study, a team of doctors tested the EI of pediatrics and Med-Peds residents at Loyola University Medical Center. Residents are physicians who have just graduated med school and are under the supervision of a more experienced physician. Residency for pediatrics lasts for three years, while residency in Med-Peds lasts four years. Med-Peds is a program that combines internal medicine and pediatrics, hence the name.
Practicing medicine is a rigorous profession. Being emotionally intelligent can help doctors deal with the rigors and stress more effectively. A number of medical centers are exploring how fostering emotional intelligence can lead to better doctors and more satisfied patients. People can be taught to become more emotionally intelligent, which may be key for doctors to develop better coping strategies and patient relationships.
Patients are more trusting of an emotionally intelligent doctor. This trust is important in a patient-doctor relationship, particularly in areas like patient compliance. If patients trust their doctor, they are more receptive to solutions that will help them in their recovery. This leads to better patient satisfaction and better morale among doctors.
Participants in the study had to complete the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory 2.0. This EI test determines how low or high a person scores on six personal attributes. These are impulse control, empathy, social responsibility, assertiveness, flexibility, and independence. The residents scored an average of 110 points in the overall EI test. This is 10 points higher than the average emotional intelligence of the general population.
In general, residents got higher scores in impulse control, empathy, and social responsibility. These qualities are vital in people whose job is to help others and improve their quality of life.
However, the residents scored lower in assertiveness, flexibility, and independence.
There were some differences worth noting in the results, though. Older residents in their third or fourth year scored higher in assertiveness. This may be because they're older, more experienced, and more confident in themselves as physicians. Meanwhile, younger residents in their first or second years scored higher in empathy.
These results posed an interesting question for the researchers. Does empathy weaken as residents gain more experience and therefore become more assertive?
The researchers thus recommended that the residents needed to learn how to keep their assertiveness and empathy in balance. To address this, the Loyola University Medical Center provided the pediatrics and Med-Peds residents with an emotional intelligence training program. So far, the residents have improved their EI scores, including the ones that needed work.
As the results show, effective training and education can build up EI. Other medical centers may benefit from looking into education programs geared towards improving emotional intelligence in their doctors. A calm, well-adjusted doctor can do wonders for a patient's recovery.
Get weekly science updates in your inbox!