Educators must look beyond mastery of a certain domain of radiologic knowledge and develop a set of social and emotional intelligence skills to better understand their own emotional states and recognize how their interaction with others affects their role as educators.
"Social and emotional intelligence is a skill set that anyone can practice and develop," said Robert Percarpio, MD, assistant professor of radiology at Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth, NH. "The first step is to be aware of these skills, and then we can make a conscious effort to improve them in ourselves,"
In a session that focused on his early experiences as an educator, Dr. Percarpio discussed the surprising anxiety that crept into his work and interventional radiology speaking experiences as he grappled with how to balance his clinical productivity and patient care with the responsibility of resident education and presenting a consistent learning environment.
For Dr. Percarpio, the solution came in the form of training in social and emotional intelligence.
"The majority of radiology education is experiential and collaborative work between the attending radiologist and the resident at the workstation or in the IR suite," he said. "This is where social and emotional intelligence can have a big impact."
Social and emotional intelligence refers to a set of skills, traits or competencies that relate to one's own emotions and social interactions with others. It can be better understood when divided into four domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
"Self-awareness and self-management focus on ourselves and relate to our personal emotional management. We pause and reflect about our mental state and determine whether it may be negatively affecting our behavior. If it is, that's a good time to take a timeout to reset and come back with an improved state of mind," Dr. Percarpio said.
Social awareness and relationship management refer to our interactions with others.
"In social awareness, we determine whether we are attuned to the emotions of others and if we are able to exhibit empathy. Relationship management relates to how we function with teamwork or mentorship, coaching or conflict," he said.
In the educational environment, these skills become important because opportunities for learning can be lost if a resident feels overwhelmed, unappreciated or anxious. Educators who are able to detect these roadblocks can be objective and try a different approach.
A more nuanced example of social intelligence is detecting impression management. "People manage behaviors to construct a personality which they value or want others to see," Dr. Percarpio said adding, "By recognizing this tendency in our residents, we can target better ways of educating."
In one hypothetical example of impression management, he shared a story of a junior resident who did not want to be perceived as incompetent after missing a large uterine mass on a CT study. When asked, the junior resident deflected by saying he saw it but forgot to mention it or didn't think of mentioning it.
"In this case, there is an opportunity to walk him back to recognize and correct the mistake. While doing so, you also reveal the true nature of the mistake and have a real chance for learning," he said.