Association Between Emotional Intelligence and Professionalism among Dental Hygiene Students
Emotional intelligence is defined as “the ability to evaluate and govern the emotions of oneself and others”. The definition of professionalism seems to be more subjective. Dental educators define professionalism as “implied values, virtues, and characteristics that guide the practice of dentistry in the promotion of oral health”. While patients define it as “demonstration of excellence and effective communication skills, commitment to humanism and service, and perceived clinical competence in the form of effective management of duties and skills”.
In a recent cross-sectional survey published in September 2018 in the Journal of Dental Education, the authors assessed whether relationships existed between emotional intelligence (EI) and professionalism among undergraduate dental hygiene students.1
The authors used questions from the Emotional Quotient Self-Assessment Checklist (EQSAC) and the Patient Management and Professionalism Scale (PMPS). Additionally, they included 3 demographic questions that consisted of gender, age, and race/ethnicity.
Most participants in the study had EI and professionalism scores in the moderate range. The EI scores were significant predictors of total professionalism scores. Leading the authors to state “Improving EI levels may bolster the development of professionalism”. Showing the need to implement techniques to improve EI among dental hygiene students both in didactic and clinical environments.
The authors note that the most effective professionalism training programs are not those that are a stand-alone course, yet involve role-modeling, assessment of student behavior, and reflective exercises that are continually implemented throughout the curriculum. Therefore, there is no need to add a course, just adapt techniques that will garner excellence in professionalism.
Interestingly student’s perspective revealed that formal professionalism course work contributed least to their development of professionalism, but state that role modeling during student clinic and a sense of social responsibility were the biggest contributing factors to the development of their professionalism.
The authors call for programs that allow curricula to focus on student competence over quota requirements. Including qualitative aspects of professionalism. Evidence suggests that professionalism training is more effective when it is reinforced throughout the entirety of the curriculum. Implementing this technique has shown to influence beliefs beyond the clinical environment.
By influencing beliefs beyond the clinical environment, students may want to seek out leadership roles in public health. Working towards such goals as providing equal access to care, pushing for legislation for more autonomy in dental hygiene, and working together with dentists to improve working environments to provide the best care possible to patients.
The authors conclude by stating “Total EI scores were significant predictors of total professionalism scores and EI domain scores were found to be significant predictors of professionalism domain scores.”
Do you feel that your dental hygiene program properly garnered your development of professionalism? What changes would you have implemented if you were given a voice to do so? How have you worked to continue to improve your EI and professionalism since graduating from dental hygiene school?
Partido BB, Stafford R. Association Between Emotional Intelligence and Academic Performance Among Dental Hygiene Students. J Dent Educ. 2018;82(9):974-979. doi:10.21815/JDE.018.094