Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Examining Change in Emotional-Social Intelligence, Caring, and Leadership in Health Professions Students

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Examining Change in Emotional-Social Intelligence, Caring, and Leadership in Health Professions Students

Article excerpt

Purpose: To describe and compare the development of emotional-social intelligence (ESI), caring, and leadership of nursing and physical therapy students from the beginning of their professional education until after their first clinical experiences. Methods: At the beginning of their first professional year, 73 nursing students and 60 physical therapy students completed three self-report questionnaires: the BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory Short (EQ-i:S) for ESI, the Caring Ability Inventory, and the Self-Assessment Leadership Instrument (SALI). For each instrument, higher scores represent higher levels of ESI, caring, or leadership, respectively. The students completed the questionnaires again after finishing their first clinical experiences. Results: A two-way ANOVA with repeated measures (group vs time) revealed a significant interaction for the total score of the EQ-i:S. At both time periods, scores on the SALI were lower for the nursing students compared to the physical therapy students. There were no other significant time or group effects. Conclusion: Nursing and physical therapy students had little change in ESI, leadership, and caring between the start of their academic programs and completion of their first clinical affiliations. J Allied Health 2011; 40(2):96-102.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE (EI) or emotional-social intelligence (ESI) is an attribute just recently being studied for its significance in health science professions. Bar-On defines ESI as "a multi-factorial array of emotional and social competencies that determine how effectively we relate with ourselves and others and cope with daily demands and pressures."1 Moreover, ESI is considered necessary for individual and workplace success.2-4 There is also some evidence that ESI can improve with life experiences and training.1,5

Both the nursing and physical therapy professions have shown an interest in the ESI concept, but most of the work in the literature remains theoretical.6-8 Ramsden and Taylor9 have argued that to be effective, practitioners must see the world through the eyes of the patient. Gard and Gyllensten8 further maintained that better treatment outcomes are obtained when the physical therapist and patient better understand and express emotion. Their opinion was supported by a qualitative study where expert physical therapists indicated the need for both themselves and their patients to identify and express their emotions.10

Only a few publications have reported on the relationship of ESI to other attributes in nurses or physical therapists or students of these professions. Farmer11 suggested that higher ESI may help prevent burnout in nurses but found no relationship between ESI and job satisfaction in this group. Grace12 found that some aspects of ESI of nursing students predicted satisfaction with their educational program but reported no association between ESI and grade point average (GPA). Cross-sectional studies on physical therapy students have revealed positive correlations between ESI and cognitive/academic ability13 and between ESI and 2 out of 24 items on a clinical performance measure. 14 None of these studies investigated the development of ESI in nursing or physical therapy students during their academic or clinical education.

"Caring" is an important concept in the health professions15- 17 and one that has been linked, at least in theory, to ESI.6,16,18 Definitions of caring vary but include reference to both the physical actions and emotional concern of the "carer" as he/she supports and responds to the needs of others.18 Caring has also been described as a relationship that involves receptivity, engrossment, and reciprocity of the one caring and the person being cared for.15 Akerjordet and Severinsson call caring the "essence of health care"19(p571) and suggest that emotional intelligence is one of the skills required for appropriate caring.

Rego and colleagues20 reported that some aspects of selfreport EI of nurses were significantly correlated with patients' ratings of their caring behaviors. …

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