Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to comprehend emotions, evaluate emotional information, and then, using that comprehension and evaluation, to enhance thought process (Mayer, 2009). In addition, it is correlated that emotional intelligence allows a person to respond to another’s emotions instead of reacting to them, even in complex situations (Bruce, 2015). When it comes to healthcare, and having relationships with patients and other staff, emotional intelligence is a much needed ability. Thankfully, for those who are not innately skilled in emotional intelligence, this is something that can be mastered with the correct curriculum and instruction (Mackay, White, McNulty, Lane, & Lewis, 2015). This concept is quickly becoming the cornerstone of patient-centered care.
Emotional Intelligence and US Healthcare
Emotional intelligence is finding itself to be a hot topic when it comes to healthcare, in both the US and abroad (Birks & Watt, 2007). Emotional intelligence has been shown to reduce the number of malpractice suits for medical practitioners, as these practitioners come across to patients as being more empathetic, mindful, and more willing to spend time with patients’ concerns (Bruce, 2015). This directly affects the bottomline of the healthcare industry, but that is just the tip of iceberg.
Healthcare professionals work under a demanding and often complex work environment, coming in contact with patients, staff, and patient families. It is essential that these professionals have the required skills needed to successfully navigate such an environment. Professionals who have high emotional intelligence are more likely to be able to perform calmly under duress, effectively resolve conflict as it occurs, lead others by example, and make better business decisions than those who do not (Bruce, 2015). These abilities are essential to risk reduction, clinical integration, and interprofessional teamwork; all of which are important to the healthcare industry in the US (Bruce, 2015).
Emotional Intelligence and the Radiographer
Radiographers find themselves in the position of working in an environment that is very emotional because it is highly personal, complex, and deals with patients in regards to general health, cancer services, and trauma (Mackay, et. al., 2015). Being emotionally intelligent in such a field is not simply a benefit, but a necessity due to the very nature of the work involved. A radiographer is going to be in contact with a patient who is dealing with the fear of the unknown, and people react to this in many different ways; being able to correctly discern the patient’s emotional state will allow for greater patient care and satisfaction (Birks & Watt, 2007).
According to an analysis between student radiographers and professional radiographers, there is an increase in the emotional intelligence of students as they progress through training and into the profession (Mackay, et. al., 2015). This study concluded that the curriculum and training required to become a radiographer enhances emotional intelligence by its vary nature, showing just how critical it is to the practice (Mackay, et. al., 2015). The more patient situations the radiographer experiences, the greater the enhancement of emotional intelligence will become.
New Initiatives in Emotional Intelligence
When emotional intelligence was first introduced, the definition of what it was, how it was used, and how to develop it were all across the board (Mayer, 2009). It became necessary for a professional definition to be developed, as many came to believe the term to be synonymous with being agreeable, optimistic, happy, calm, and/or motivated (Mayer, 2009). It was important to differentiate that it was not simply a collection of attributes or a feature of personality, but rather a useful and much needed form of intelligence (Mayer, 2009).
Emotional intelligence is increasingly more prevalent in healthcare literature, and is now being recognized as a necessary feature of satisfactory patient care (Birks & Watt, 2007). Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are all included in the umbrella of patient care, and one has to recognize that all need emotional intelligence to some degree, especially when considering healthcare’s continued transition to being more transparent, open to change, and how highly the factor of reputation affects patient choice (Bruce, 2015).
Emotional intelligence has become the cornerstone of patient centered care, and it is especially important to healthcare professionals, like radiographers, who will have contact with many patients and need to be able to make quick decisions, even under pressure. Emotional intelligence has been seen to not only improve hospital bottom lines, but has also lead to a decrease in malpractice suits because patients feel heard and understood. Above all else, healthcare exists to provide a service to the patient, and it is essential that the patient feel as confident about their care as is possible. Emotional intelligence is a key to that patient confidence, and is needed to succeed in healthcare, especially within the field of radiography.
- Birks, Y. F., & Watt, I. S. (2007, August). Emotional intelligence and patient-centered care. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 100(8), 368-374. doi:10.1258/jrsm.100.8.368
- Bruce, A. (2015, February 5). Emotional intelligence impacts hospitals’ bottom lines and patient satisfaction. In CEP America. Retrieved from http://www.cepamerica.com
- Mackay, S. J., White, P., McNulty, J. P., Lane, S., & Lewis, S. J. (2015, July 18). A benchmarking and comparative analysis of emotional intelligence in student and qualified radiographers: An international study. Journal of Medical Radiation Services, 62(4), 246-252. doi:10.1002/jmrs.130
- Mayer, J. D. (2009, September 21). What emotional intelligence is and is not. In Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-personality-analyst/200909/what-emotional-intelligence-is-and-is-not