Emotional intelligence as a crucial component to medical education

This article analyzes the importance of Emotional Intelligence in the field of health care and recommends various ways that this important skill can be built into medical programs



Articolo di Debbi R. Johnson su International Journal of Medical Education

The goals and objectives of education, and therefore, educators, have evolved in recent years. Higher education traditionally has focused on a subject-oriented perspective; however, the knowledge base is rapidly changing, so in addition to mastering content, the learner must master the ability to continue to learn as a self-directed and lifelong learner. These constant advancements certainly have affected the field of medical education, where teachers have the responsibility of helping students to approach material from a more consumer-oriented perspective, giving them the skills to become lifelong learners and mentors. Consequently, every effort should be made by educators to “move the learners gradually but firmly in the direction of autonomy and self-directedness”.1

In a study of medical students in both academic and nonacademic difficulty at George Washington University, Hendren (1988) identified four major groups of student issues that affected attrition: (a) intrapersonal issues, (b) interpersonal issues, (c) academic problems, and (d) a combination of extreme anxiety and limited academic ability.2 Hendren’s study was important as it identified reasons other than simply academic ability as key factors in student success.

Students with intrapersonal problems can be defined as those who struggle due to personal internal conflicts or anxiety.2 Results of a study conducted at the University of Alberta showed a higher level of stress and depression among students in the health sciences than among other graduate students.3 Reasons for this additional stress included greater competition among students in these fields and these programs’ responsibility for graduating knowledgeable and skilled professionals who will be performing in often-stressful conditions. It must be noted, however, that although the curriculum is geared toward fostering the greatest amount of learning possible, some aspects of training may negatively affect the student’s health.4 Whereas a certain degree of anxiety is useful for performance, to an excess it can become debilitating and lead to many other problems.2 The competitive nature of the health sciences, combined with certain academic weaknesses, serves to create poorly adaptive perfectionism in students within these programs that leads to unrealistic and excessive concerns about performance.3  continua a leggere


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