The use of emotional intelligence skills in fighting physician burnout across different specialties: physicians-in-training and program directors in the boxing ring.

Burnout is occupation-related exhaustion coupled with depersonalization and lack of achievement. Physicians were experiencing burnout at a higher level than nonphysician workers (48.8% vs. 28.4% in 2014, respectively). The consequences of physician burnout were tied to 6.5% of physicians having suicide ideation, 10% of medical errors, high turnover rates, and 50% reduction in physician professional effort. Factors contributing to burnout were reported in the following descending order: bureaucracy, charting and documentation, long work hours, lack of respect from colleagues, as well as lack of emotional intelligence. Following the ACGME mandates to secure the well-being of physicians, several interventions were attempted at the personal and organizational levels.

In this study, we have investigated the impact of emotional intelligence on burnout level among physicians-in-training and physicians who were appointed as program directors. Emotional intelligence is a combination of abilities to: perceive and express emotions, understand emotions of one’s self and others, facilitate and regulate emotions. A plethora of studies indicated the positive impact of emotional intelligence on decision-making, leadership and mentoring, communication, and building relationships. These studies indicated the inverse relationship between emotional intelligence and burnout.

There were few studies done investigating the impact of emotional intelligence on burnout in program directors. In a national-level intervention, burnout level among internal medicine program directors was reported to be 29% and associated with high turnover rates. With the complex tasks and additional duties program directors were assigned by the ACGME, emotional intelligence skills and burnout level were not investigated. Studies that were focused on physician-in-training revealed that almost 50% of medical students changed their specialty of choice between matriculation and graduation and 38% would change specialty if they were given a second chance. One of the main causes contributing to changing specialty was linked to personality complements. With the cited positive impact of emotional intelligence, burnout level can be diminished with a strengthening of emotional intelligence skills.

Data for this study were collected through an online cross-sectional survey study. The survey was sent to program directors and physicians-in-training from May 2021 to June 2021. The survey included: TEIQue-SF, CBI, and demographics. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize the sample and instrument scores. In addition, Spearman correlation coefficients and linear regression models were used to evaluate univariable associations.

The findings of this study revealed that both program directors and physicians-in-training exhibit low levels of burnout and high levels of emotional intelligence, with a moderate inverse correlation between burnout and emotional intelligence (r = -0.51 [-0.73, -0.16] and r = -0.56 [-0.68, -0.42], for both program directors and physicians-in-training, respectively). The impact of emotional intelligence on burnout among physicians-in-training who changed their specialty of choice showed no difference than those who did not change their specialty of choice (p-value = 0.77). Results from an open-ended question revealed that 6 out of the 15 respondents who were considering leaving their position as program directors stated that lack of support and micromanagement were the main reasons for considering leaving the position. At the same time, culture and support (coded 17 times) were the main reason physicians-in-training were feeling burned out. The conclusion of these two studies determines that emotional intelligence is a protective factor against burnout and despite the quantitatively reported high level of emotional intelligence scores, the qualitative inputs suggest a need for interpersonal emotional intelligence skills improvement.

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Work Title The use of emotional intelligence skills in fighting physician burnout across different specialties: physicians-in-training and program directors in the boxing ring.
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Open Access
Creators
  1. Eiman Khesroh
Keyword
  1. Physician burnout, emotional intelligence, specialty decision-making, healthcare institutional culture, program directors, turnover
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Dissertation
Acknowledgments
  1. The authors would like to thank Dr. Beth Herman, Penn State director of graduate medical education, for her support of this research; program directors, associate program directors, residents, and fellows for finding the time to participate and provide such valuable input; and Dr. Yendelela Cuffee, assistant professor, epidemiology, University of Delaware, for her constructive feedbacks.
Publication Date October 29, 2021
Deposited October 29, 2021

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Version 1
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  • Updated Publication Date, License Show Changes
    Publication Date
    • 10.29.2021
    • 2021-10-29
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    • https://rightsstatements.org/page/InC/1.0/
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Version 2
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  • Created
  • Updated Keyword Show Changes
    Keyword
    • Physician burnout, emotional intelligence, specialty decision-making, healthcare institutional culture, program directors, turnover
  • Updated Acknowledgments Show Changes
    Acknowledgments
    • The authors would like to thank Dr. Beth Herman, Penn State director of graduate medical education, for her support of this research; program directors, associate program directors, residents, and fellows for finding the time to participate and provide such valuable input; and Dr. Yendelela Cuffee, assistant professor, epidemiology, University of Delaware, for her constructive feedbacks.
  • Added IDR-OCT@2021.pdf
  • Deleted IDR-OCT2021.pdf
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  • Updated Work Title Show Changes
    Work Title
    • THE USE OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE SKILLS IN FIGHTING PHYSICIAN BURNOUT ACROSS DIFFERENT SPECIALTIES: PHYSICIANS-IN-TRAINING AND PROGRAM DIRECTORS IN THE BOXING RING
    • The use of emotional intelligence skills in fighting physician burnout across different specialties: physicians-in-training and program directors in the boxing ring.
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