Emotional intelligence, burnout, and professional fulfillment in clinical year medical students

Med Teach. 2021 Apr 30;1-7. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2021.1915468. Online ahead of print.


Background: Emotional intelligence (EI) has been associated with decreased burnout in surgical residents but has not been extensively studied in medical students. We hypothesized that higher EI would lead to decreased levels of burnout among medical students at a US medical school.

Methods: The authors administered three separate EI measures and compiled an EI score by adding the normalized score on each test. These measures were the DRS-15, the Grit Scale, and the Reading the Mind Between the Eyes Quiz. The Professional Fulfillment Index (PFI) was used to determine levels of burnout experienced two weeks before survey completion.

Results: The population included 68 medical students. PFI and EI scores were positively correlated (R = 0.55, p < .001). The separate EI measures indicated that both Grit (R = 0.43, p < .001) and DRS-15 (R = 0.56, p < .001) were correlated with PFI. The Eyes Quiz did not show a significant correlation with PFI (p = .2).

Conclusions: The results confirmed our hypothesis that EI would be correlated with decreased levels of burnout among this group of students. Some areas of potential future study include whether these same results hold true at other medical schools and if improving EI has a benefit of decreasing burnout.

Keywords: Medical education research; selection; student support; undergraduate.