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Professional Development: The New Equation For Success

Publish Date: August 8, 2018

We have come to a time in our profession and industry when skills and knowledge are not enough to ensure sound clinical outcomes, a high level of patient satisfaction, and excellent staff engagement scores. This realization is difficult for me to write, and I am sure it is difficult for you to read.

Standardizing the academic preparation for nurses nationwide has been a constant goal put forth by the ANA during my forty-year career. Enabling nurses to practice to the level of their license and academic preparation was a major theme of the Future of Nursing 2010 Report to Congress. Encouraging clinical excellence through nationally accepted clinical certifications is a cause I have participated in and promoted to my students and colleagues. We have been validating clinical competency as outlined by the Joint Commission since the 1980s. Still, I am explaining to you that these actions are no longer enough.

When we review the indicators (metrics) for success such as the national survey indicators of patient satisfaction, staff satisfaction, and staff engagement, very few of the metrics address clinical knowledge and skill competency. Attaining desired scores seems to be a reflection on how well leaders connect with their staff and how well that team connects with patients and their families. It is the ability to access and use the interpersonal skills needed to build and sustain relationships that drive these survey outcomes. It follows then that anchored emotional intelligence skills are the new competency benchmark for success in the healthcare workplace.

The new equation for success is:

The New Equation For Success

The healthcare industry has not embraced this equation as readily as other industries. I do not believe that this oversight was intentional. Since 1985 and the implementation of the prospective payment model, the healthcare industry has not had a sense of stability.  We have virtually been trying to adapt or reinvent our models of care every few years in an attempt to survive. You can lose sight of the need to invest in the development of your staff when you are in survival-mode.

Emotional intelligence, as defined by Dr. Daniel Goleman (1998), is the ability to manage our emotions well in ourselves and our relationships. Emotional intelligence should be the new measuring stick used to assess a person’s ability to be a transformational leader and thereby, successfully lead in the 21st-century. Investing in emotional intelligence training for the staff can help them access their empathy and compassion easily. This ability to connect is essential if they are to engage the patient, their family, and each other. 

If we are genuinely committed to creating patient-centered cultures where caring and service is at the heart of all we do, then we must insist that each leader and professional caregiver commit to growing his or her emotional intelligence. I believe that acknowledging the life skills of emotional intelligence as equally vital as professional knowledge and clinical skills in our leaders and staff is the long-term solution to effectively dealing with bullying and incivility in healthcare.

The Four Competencies of Emotional Intelligence

According to Daniel Goleman (1998), four competencies must be developed so that an individual can realize a proper level of emotional intelligence, they are Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social-Awareness, and Relationship Management.

Look for more information on the value of these four competencies when Phyllis S. Quinlan, PhD, RN-BC, concludes this two-part series in the August 22 issue of Periop Today.


Develop the competencies you need to improve your emotional intelligence with a free 90-minute career coaching session with Dr. Phyllis Quinlan, available to AORN members only.