Much research has been conducted and empirical evidence produced to support the fact that doctors and nurses who exhibit many of the skills associated with Emotional Intelligence (EI) can boost recovery rates and overall patient well being.
In an article by Dr Helen Reiss, she spoke about Empathy in Medicine from a Neurological perspective. Dr Reiss went on to say that “A physician’s attitude and approach affect every aspect of medical care for patients and their families. An empathic bedside manner is no quaint relic of the past. To restore and ensure public trust in the medical profession, new generations of physicians must understand the emotional, physiological, and practical consequences of discarding empathy. One legacy of medical education is overvaluing scientific measurement and undervaluing subjective experiences. The neurobiology of empathy offers hope for those who value the subjective experience of empathy and for those who find comfort in what can be measured.”
Within EI empathy, which is really the ability to walk in the other person’s shoes and see it from their perspective, is demonstrated through a high degree of emotional awareness of others. Of course empathy is just one part of this equation. The full range of EI skills also speaks to the ongoing well being of the doctors and nurses themselves who very often are working in very stressful and emotionally challenging situations. Having high self awareness means you are very present; having the ability to self mange builds resiliency and a high degree of self control allows you to be responsive rather than reactive. These are all very enabling traits and allow doctors and nurses to be also at their very best from a self preservation point of view.
In conclusion, within the medical profession the quantitative data is absolutely critical, but more and more research is clearly demonstrating that this can be very effectively complimented by more subjective experiences. Empathy and other emotional intelligence skills can make doctors and nurses much more effective in their various interactions and also, more importantly in certain instances accelerate recovery.