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Coaching Doctors: First Show Them the Evidence

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Since emotional intelligence is often a critical part of my clients’ leadership development, if possible, I use the ability-based MSCEIT (Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test), a valid and reliable instrument that measures the taker’s emotional intelligence in four dimensions (perceiving, understanding and managing emotions, and facilitating thought) and offers suggestions to improve the taker’s emotional intelligence. Validity and reliability are foundations of the scientific method. The former refers to whether the test measures what it says it measures. The latter refers to the reproducibility of the test by other researchers. Physicians often are more trusting of instruments with these qualities.

Related: Is Your Doctor Emotionally intelligent?

In the big picture, there’s a lot to do. Earlier this year, Anthony Grant, Ph.D. (a prolific publisher on coaching), at the University of Sydney, published “The impact of leadership coaching in an Australian healthcare setting.” The conclusion is that leadership coaching may facilitate goal attainment, foster resilience, and lead to greater ambiguity tolerance in those who are coached—all factors in preventing burnout and supporting personal growth. Dr. Atul Gawande proposed coaching for surgeons in a New Yorker article.

As one of my coaching clients told me,

“You’ve helped me expand my view of the world to think of consequences of my actions, take risks, and understand that it all comes down to relationships.”

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