Tangible Ideas for Evaluating Emotional Intelligence in Healthcare Professionals & Students

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More and more the value of emotional intelligence is being recognized for providing safe care and optimal patient experience.  Yet, how do teachers measure it in students or leaders measure it in healthcare professionals?   We’re all at different levels and some are more naturally inclined than others. Not only is it tough to evaluate, but progress will look different for all of us.  A recent discussion in a Linkedin Group of Nurse Educators and question from Professor of Nursing, Regina Ruotolo, MSN, RN inspired  further thinking on the matter and a list that may be helpful to others.

For the educator, Emotional Intelligence is not easy to evaluate. Often times it falls under a Communication competency, but there are so many other competencies that EI overlaps in (Professionalism, Patient Centered-Care etc..). In the past, there have been students who lack emotional intelligence and it has been somewhat difficult to document their deficiencies since each situation is unique and cannot be ‘graded’ using a sterile evaluation tool. Any suggestions? –Regina Ruotolo MSN, RN , Professor of Nursing , Nashua Community College  rruotolo@ccsnh.edu.

Here are some thoughgts, Regina.

1. Are students comfortable asking for, offering, refusing, and/or accepting help? If so this can indicate self awareness, awareness of others, an ability to set limits and be a team player. Listening and assertiveness are also essential for this behavior.

2. Are students able to take in constructive feedback and learn gracefully i.e. without being defensive? This reflects self-esteem as well as respect for others and an overall sense of security. Are they able to offer constructive feedback in a healthy way to their peers? Teachers? Supervisors?

3. Are students able to express compassion for others without being incapacitated by it? Along with this is an ability to empower others, have a sense of what others are feeling and needing, but not be co-dependent.

4. Can they communicate showing ownership and accountability. Of course we don’t want to encourage students to make mistakes, but we do want to encourage them to be honest and accountable. This must include an ability to forgive ourselves and each other.

5. In my medical improv and other interactive workshops I include brainstorm discussions that opens up the doors to all kinds of communication and collaboration strengths and encourage reflection time to allow for strengths they already have and opportunities for developing. I usually link these to work or school. One of the magical aspects of Medical Improv is that once the principles are learned, people can practice the same activity together and learn different things. We need each other to evolve!

6. How do they handle conflict? Perspective-taking is key for respectful listening and conflict management, but in order to do this they must be able to validate an opposing position. I created an online validation process for dialogue partners that includes steps for validating each other as a separate step, i.e before stating their position.

Let me know if this is helpful or inspires other ideas. As I said, it is a great question and if we can get better at measuring it, we’ll be more likely to be able to teach it and ultimately, it won’t be so easy to dismiss it’s value. Beth

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What are your thoughts?