You walk into a busy OPD, the atmosphere morose and bubbling with impatience. Waiting for your turn , you sit, tapping your foot impatiently against the floor. Looking around you see worrisome faces , waiting with bated breath to get their consultation with the man in the white coat behind the door. When finally you walk in and sit in front of the doctor, no sooner the array of questions begin , straight to the point , as he has no time to ask about your ailment and suffering .Within the span of a few minutes you are out of the door; a prescription in your, with a list of tablets you have to swallow. Walking out of the OPD you reminiscence about your childhood doctor who would talk and joke with you when you visited him .Have the times changed so drastically that there lacks a familiarity between the doctor and the patient? Does he not feel empathetic to your suffering? Is the doctor becoming inhumane?
With the debate of the healthcare system becoming commercial, another question arises; ‘does the doctor lack sensitivity or empathy ?’ Here comes into play the issue of ‘emotional intelligence’.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the awareness and ability to respond to self as well as others emotions. The five EI traits are: self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, social awareness and social skills.There is evidence that EI is an integral part of doctor-patient and doctor-doctor relationships.
Emotional intelligence of the doctor has been associated with:
A higher emotional intelligence score gives:
- Higher patient satisfaction
- Higher job satisfaction
- Lower doctor burnout
The concept of ‘Emotional intelligence’ is mainly attributed to patient satisfaction, but yet another aspect is that of job satisfaction . Doctors with lower EI score tend to be less satisfied with their jobs. Also doctors with lower EI may not get along well with their colleagues.This could lead to discord at the workplace, which would affect the patient care provided
Another question that arises“Is EI an inherent or developed trait ?”
This is a valid question as we all know people who are more empathetic than others. But there is still scope for development of EI.A quick google search will give you access to multiple articles and steps you can use to improve you EI .As we are starting to set out on the clinical journey we must aim at improving our EI!
- Development of EI is a long process. It does not happen in a day!
- Begin with your own feelings first.Start analysing why you feel a certain way!
- Keep a positive attitude and environment
- Try to respond to a situation instead of reacting to it . This is a difficult one ! But definitely can be worked upon.
I hold a firm belief that working on our EI will not only help our professional life but will make us a better person as a whole. It is a conscious and tedious process, which require our efforts. But we can definitely give it a shot. So let us try to take a step towards being an emotionally intelligent person rather than just an intelligent one!