The Growing Significance of Emotional Intelligence for Nurses


Regardless of profession, every job description today consists of a list of essential skills expected from potential candidates. These skills may include critical thinking, adaptability, creativity, communication, leadership, and collaboration. While these are all vital skills to possess and enhance employability, one skill beats them all, i.e., emotional intelligence. 

You will rarely come across this skill listed in any of the job descriptions. However, it is an invaluable asset to any individual, especially in the field of healthcare. 

Growing Significance of Emotional Intelligence in Nursing Profession

Emotional intelligence can undoubtedly prove to be a game-changer in a profession requiring dealing with life and death. The term doesn’t just refer to managing your own emotions. Instead, emotional intelligence gives you the unique ability to control other people’s emotions as well. If you go into detail, there are five main characteristics of emotional intelligence: Self-regulation, self-awareness, self-motivation, social awareness, and social skills. Eventually, it’s an all-in-one for any medical professional’s skill set requirement. 

Today, the healthcare industry faces a dire worker shortage due to the ongoing pandemic and emerging physical and mental health complications of the masses. Healthcare facilities worldwide are struggling to fill vacant senior positions at the hands of the pandemic. As a result, nurses are bridging this gap by taking on leadership roles. Many of them are opting for nurse leadership programs to strengthen various leadership traits, including emotional intelligence. 

What Exactly Is Emotional Intelligence?

Healthcare is indeed one of the most complex and stressful professions to exist. A nurse’s job revolves around witnessing angry, grieving, violent, agitated, and hyperactive people every day. Sometimes, their words and actions can get to your head and lead to stress/burnout. Throwing a fit or having an emotional breakdown is the last thing one expects of a nurse. 

In this case, emotional intelligence helps you regulate your emotions and responses. It allows you to identify, understand, and manage your feelings rather than bottling them up to make things worse. Consequently, your control over emotions enables you to efficiently communicate with people while positively influencing your patients. 

Why Is Emotional Intelligence Valuable for Nurses? 

Nurses are the backbone of any hospital setting. They’re hosts, caretakers, occasional first responders, and sometimes the patients only shoulder to cry. Patients and attendees interact with them more than they interact with the doctors. Therefore, nurses must keep their emotional guard up. They must always communicate and give off positive vibes to help the patients and their families cope with the entire situation. Ensuring mutual trust allows nurses to uphold the patient-practitioner relationship requirement of their job.  

Enhanced career prospects aren’t the only reasons why nurses should specialize in emotional intelligence. It’s also a fantastic tool to promote self-care. Undeniably, witnessing patients lose their lives, seeing families lose a loved one, or telling a child about their illness, is too stressful to manage. It can seriously take a severe toll on almost anyone, let alone those who’ve to face it frequently. 

Every one in three nurses reports suffering from a mental illness or two throughout their career (particularly depression and insomnia). Thus, emotional intelligence assists you in recognizing various emotions before they transition into an ailment. It also enables you to seek help by identifying various indications of declining health. These simple practices are the key to managing your emotions before you burn out, break down, or cease to function anymore. 

How to be emotionally intelligent? 

At some level, we all possess specific emotional intelligence, whether preliminary or high EQ. Nonetheless, there are innovative ways to improve your degree of emotional intelligence. Step one is to keep track of and monitor your feelings. If you know what you’re feeling, it’s safe to take some time away from people to avoid lashing out at them or making compromised judgments. Step two is to practice empathy. Before you react to a highly enraged person’s petty comments, put yourself in their shoes and understand what caused them to behave like this. It’ll help put things into perspective. 

Step three is to set emotional boundaries for yourself. No matter how much empathy you try to display, you can only take in so much. Walk out of such situations and ask for help. Talk it out and never bottle up your feelings. Lastly, do not hold grudges as it’s a sign of sheer vulnerability. 

Final thoughts 

Mastering emotional intelligence has become imperative for workers across almost every industry, sector these days. However, the healthcare industry is one industry where human emotions and mettle experience the most challenging tests. Every day, doctors and nurses struggle hard to save lives and pull people from the clutches of chronic issues and problems. So, focusing on developing and sharpening your emotional quotient becomes a dire need of the hour in such professions. Nurses looking to expand their careers must master the various skills and qualities needed for leadership positions, including emotional intelligence. 


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