are less likely to complain and more likely to have positive health results if
their physician communicates well with them. For these and other reasons,
medical schools include interpersonal and communication skills in their
training programs. The JAMA
article argues that medical education needs
to delve even deeper to help doctors relate better.
four components of emotional intelligence — the abilities to perceive, use,
understand and manage emotions — are building blocks for interpersonal and
communication skills. The challenge in medical education is to understand the
psychology behind these skills and build programs to develop them, according to
commentary authors Daisy Grewal., Ph.D., and Heather Davidson, Ph.D., of the
department of medical education at Stanford
goal is to learn "how we can improve assessment tools to better understand how
to train better doctors," Davidson said.
many graduate medical education programs use self-assessments, which tend to
rely on students' perceptions of their own personalities. The beauty of ability
measurement for emotional intelligence evaluation, according to the authors, is
that it could separate out personality traits from these core abilities, giving
trainees a more objective assessment of their skills.
JAMA authors suggest that future studies could link emotional intelligence
measurements with performance evaluations. Graduate students who score low in
one or a combination of abilities might benefit from targeted training in their
and Davidson note that not all educators agree on the value of emotional
intelligence. Few studies have tested the benefits of training programs, and
none has done so within medical education.
research shows that emotion skills training in medical schools has improved
empathy and "soft" skills, suggesting that the right kind of training might
help those students who are not natural-born communicators to learn and develop
their abilities — assuming they can accurately read and manage their own
emotions and those of others.
such training will improve the caring environment in medicine," Davidson said.