Emotional Intelligence and Medical Education

emotional intelligence

Why should emotional intelligence be important in medical education?

  • It could develop a better understanding of the competency interpersonal and communications skills. Communications skills of a medical student are easier to define and observe than interpersonal skills. You can use a one way screen, and rating scales. Successful interaction needs more than communications skills and this is were interpersonal skills come in. Interpersonal skills is inherently relation and process oriented, it is all about relieving anxiety, [and] establishing trusting relationships.
  • Emotional Intelligence is a set of 4 distinct yet related abilities: (1) perceiving emotions; (2)
    using emotions; (3) understanding emotions; and, (4) managing emotions. This framework can be used to understand the factors that make up interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Emotional Intelligence can be measured in individuals. There are two self report tests and one ability based test: The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test. The disadvantage of self report tests is that these tests measure the perception of emotions than measuring the abilities themselves. The measurement of EI as an ability has the potential to provide a more objective and, therefore, effective assessmentof these skills.
  • You can train EI but these training programs and their effectiveness have not been tested adequately yet.
  • Doctors with good communication and interpersonal skills are less likely to receive patient complaints and more likely to play a major role in reducing medical errors

For what it is worth, in a recent publication emotional intelligence was measured in anesthesiology residents with a self report scale. Emotional intelligence, as measured by the Bar-ON EQ-I 125, and resident performance as measured by the evaluation process used by the anesthesiology residency program at the University of Pittsburgh was not significantly correlated. Again the use of a self report scale jeopardizes these results.

This also is also supported by a recent finding:

The nurse-rated patient doctor relationship (PDR) and the Emotional Intelligence (EI) score for the doctor were positively associated with patient trust at a significant level.
A doctor’s self reported Emotional Intelligence did not correlate with patient-rated trust, or the patient rated quality of the Patient Doctor Relationship.

Assessment of EI is now used as part of the selection process for some medical school applicants in an effort to consider an applicant’s competence in interpersonal skills.
From researchers on: Should Medical School Applicants Be Tested for Emotional Intelligence?

Were is it going with EI and medical education?
If reliable measures and efficacious training programs can be developed it could be a valuable tool to assess important competences such as communication and interpersonal skills. But there is still a long way to go. What do you think, should EI be part of an assessment before acceptance to med school?

Related post on this blog: Patient Doctor Relationship: Emotional Intelligence

ResearchBlogging.org
D. Grewal, H. A. Davidson (2008). Emotional Intelligence and Graduate Medical Education JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 300 (10), 1200-1202 DOI: 10.1001/jama.300.10.1200

J TALARICO, D METRO, R PATEL, P CARNEY, A WETMORE (2008). Emotional intelligence and its correlation to performance as a resident: a preliminary study☆ Journal of Clinical Anesthesia, 20 (2), 84-89 DOI: 10.1016/j.jclinane.2007.12.008