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Physicians: What's Your Emotional IQ?


High emotional intelligence is a top priority for patients, medical practices, and hospitals who are seeking new physicians. How would you match up?

I'm not one to get sucked into online quizzes. I don't really waste time finding out which Disney princess I am, or which “Friends” character I should have dated, or which European city would be perfect for me. But I recently ran into a quiz that caught my attention. It was an "emotional intelligence" test, and I thought it might be the one quiz I should actually take. 

This is also a quiz that I think physicians should pay attention to. Here's why:

Book smarts vs. social smarts
Every hospital or practice wants to hire a smart doctor. But here’s the thing: All doctors are smart. Medical school entrance exams, licensing tests, and board certifications were all created to make sure that doctors have the necessary book knowledge and clinical skills to practice medicine.

Unfortunately, these tests don’t account for emotional intelligence - the ability to understand your own emotions, to discern others’ emotions, and to use that information to guide your thoughts and actions. (Though it is worth noting that, starting this year, the medical college admission test will include questions focusing on psychological and social behavior.) 

Signs of low emotional IQ
One of the common complaints we hear from facilities and practices is that some of their doctors lack emotional IQ.

Here are some of the signs:
• Trouble showing empathy to patients or staff;
• Using words or terms that patients don’t understand;
• Looking at a digital device instead of the patient; and
• Acting impatient when answering questions.

How to judge emotional intelligence
It’s the responsibility of hospital recruiters and practice owners to make sure they hire someone who can connect with their patients - not only as a way to drive patient satisfaction scores or encourage repeat business, but as a part of delivering great care.

To make sure they’re hiring physicians with high emotional intelligence, many employers have changed the way they conduct interviews. Instead of asking questions about work history and accomplishments, they now focus on behavioral questions. Here are a few examples:

1. Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation and you demonstrated your coping skills.
2. Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
3. What do you do if you disagree with a patient?
4. What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
5. Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset patient or staff member.
6. Describe a time when you were wrong.
7. Tell me about a time when you misdiagnosed a case and how you resolved it.
8. Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
9. How have you handled a difficult situation with a supervisor?
10. Walk me through how you present complicated information or instructions to patients.

For most medical specialties, the job market continues to be very competitive. As you start looking for your next job, don’t just worry about updating your CV. Make sure you take a look at how you interact with your patients, your peers, and your staff. Take time to practice your emotional skills, and then be ready to talk about them during your next interview.

Now that you know all the answers, you can skip the online quiz and test your emotional IQ in real life.


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