The doctors at your hospital may be skilled at their specialty, but it’s becoming more important to make sure they’re also equipped with social skills and emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to accurately gauge the feelings of others and to use that perception to shape your interactions with them.

A high EQ is becoming more and more valuable in the healthcare industry. Patients want to deal with providers who understand what they’re going through when they’re ill, and who can communicate with empathy and respect.

Additionally, healthcare workers with excellent social skills work well in a team setting because they’re usually good at considering the ideas and opinions of everyone in the group, and compromising to meet a common goal. This is an important characteristic for clinicians as healthcare delivery becomes more focused on working with multiple providers to give patients the best care.

Other character traits possessed by people with high EQ that lead to better outcomes in health care include:

  • compassion
  • tact
  • conscientiousness, and
  • self-awareness.

Good patient experience

A recent article in Forbes discusses just how important social skills are for hospital staff. Because patient satisfaction scores are becoming more tied to quality ratings which affect a hospital’s reimbursement, it’s important to make sure patients have a good experience during their hospital stay – and this includes their interactions with doctors.

The Forbes article cites a review of hundreds of studies examining the link between EQ, social skills and performance in the healthcare industry. Higher EQ scores were linked to more compassionate care and better knowledge of best clinical practices.

Also, doctors who scored highest on the EQ scale were better at teamwork and communicating with their patients. Taken together, these factors led researchers to conclude that picking providers with a high EQ could lead to better outcomes for patients overall.

Recruitment matters

While training can be beneficial to boost social skills and EQ in clinicians, the best strategy is to recruit providers who already have the skill set. Reason: Many of the factors that drive EQ are inherent in people’s personalities.

Many top healthcare organizations, such as Kaiser Permanente, are using personality assessments when interviewing potential residents and clinical staff to see if they have a high level of emotional intelligence.

And several hospitals have started placing a higher focus on EQ and doctors’ social skills when it comes to staffing. These include the NYU Langon Hospital for Joint Diseases and Rush University Medical Center.

Although EQ shouldn’t be the only factor driving a hospital’s hiring decisions, it may be beneficial to make it a part of your hiring process. Recruiting good clinicians who have strong social skills will make it easier for your facility to provide top care to patients.

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