White Paper: Physicians and Emotional Intelligence
February 23, 2018
By: Derek Klein
In 2015, the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) expanded
to include questions that focus on the psychological, social, and biological
foundations of behavior. The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC)
made this addition in hopes of enhancing patient-centered care through improved
physician empathy and communication skills.
Since then, healthcare facilities have implemented new
programs to train and develop physicians, nurse practitioners, physician
assistants, nurses, and other health professionals on emotional intelligence
(EQ). These new initiatives have resulted in an improved patient experience
for hospital patients and patients of other medical facilities. With
higher physician emotional intelligence, healthcare institutions have experienced
greater patient satisfaction, better adherence to treatment protocols, and
improved clinical outcomes (JAMA Otolaryngology).
Healthcare leaders have recognized that higher physician
emotional intelligence is not only crucial to improving the patient experience,
but also the physician experience. Higher EQ has prompted a reduction in
medical errors, staff turnover, and physician burnout. Increased empathy has
resulted in improved teamwork, communication, and physician leadership (World
As physician practice styles and compensation continue to
evolve toward quality and “experiential” models , the emotional intelligence of
physicians will only become more important. The quality measures typically seen
in these models include metrics such as patient satisfaction and adherence to
treatment protocols. Healthcare facilities with programs designed to develop
and foster healthcare-specific emotional intelligence have demonstrated
improvement in these measures with their physicians.
In addition, the population health management model relies
on primary care physicians who coordinate patient care by managing a
multi-disciplinary team of clinicians. Population health requires close
cooperation and communication between various stakeholders, including hospitals,
primary care physicians, medical specialists, nurse practitioners, physician
assistants, pharmacists, therapists, social workers, labs and others that
historically have operated in silos in the U.S. healthcare system. Achieving
this level of cooperation will be difficult, but with increased EQ training
programs, physicians will be better able to lead this diverse team.
Merritt Hawkins has completed a new white paper entitled Physician
Recruiting and Emotional Intelligence: Going Beyond IQ and “Type A”
Personalities that explores issues of physician emotional intelligence and
what this trend means to physician recruiting and the implementation of new
At the end of the day, physicians want to connect with their
patients and improve their condition. The old paradigm of recruiting was to
find the top “producers” who would generate the most volume. In today’s new
paradigm, finding top “nurturers” rather than “producers” may be the new model
To download the white paper click here.
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