The Relationship Between Surgeon Faculty Emotional Intelligence and Medical Student Evaluations

J Surg Educ. Mar-Apr 2021;78(2):604-611. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2020.08.010. Epub 2020 Sep 6.


Objective: We sought to measure the emotional intelligence (EI) of surgical faculty and the relationship between faculty EI and medical student (MS) evaluations of faculty.

Design: Faculty completed the Emotional Intelligence Appraisal. Aggregate, anonymous MS evaluations were collected from the Program Director's office. Parametric and nonparametric tests were used for analysis.

Setting: This study was first performed in a single surgical division at 1 center which informed an expanded study including the entire General Surgery Department at a single academic institution.

Participants: A pilot study was conducted in 1 surgical division which was then expanded to all clinical faculty in the Department of Surgery. All clinical faculty in the Department of Surgery were eligible for enrollment.

Results: Pilot study faculty EI scores were positively correlated with MS evaluations (r = 0.92, p < 0.001). The follow-up study enrolled 41 surgeons with a median age of 48 (inter-quartile range 12). The sample was mostly white (70.7%). Mean EI for the group was 76 (standard deviation ± 7.8). Total faculty EI scores were not significantly correlated with MS evaluations (r = 0.30, p = 0.06).

Conclusions: MS evaluations of surgeon faculty were not related to EI in the larger sample. However, EI did correlate to MS evaluations in 2 surgical specialties. Further exploration into the utility of EI training in surgical departments should be conducted to determine the true value of such endeavors.

Keywords: Clinical rotations; Emotional intelligence; Medical student education; Surgery clerkship; Surgery rotation; Surgical education.

MeSH terms

  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Faculty
  • Faculty, Medical
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Students, Medical*
  • Surgeons*