Emotional Intelligence of Nurses

Emotional intelligence of nurses are affected by age, gender, and length of experience. All of these can influence the level of Emotional Intelligence in individuals. Which of these factors affect your EI?


As we mature, emotional intelligence can develop. This is probably the reason why older people tend to have higher emotional intelligence. This only means that as nurses age, emotional intelligence can also score higher. However, a study in 2011 by Codier, Freel, Kamikawa & Morrison  demonstrated that there is no substantive differences in EI abilities among 3 different generations of nurses namely:  the Baby Boomer Age group, Generation X, and the Millennial Age.

Emotional Intelligence also improves as we develop our maturity. This type of intelligence is critical to the professional nurse’s personal growth and success. Through motivation, we can develop our emotional intelligence. We have to be open-minded as our professional coaches or mentors evaluate us objectively because this also helps in our growth which eventually can sharpen our EQ.


Research studies found that women are better than men in accurately identifying the feelings of other individuals.  Do you agree? This could indicate that women have more empathy, than men. Empathy is a component of Emotional Intelligence that refers to the ability to put oneself in other people’s shoes. In other words women have more awareness of other people’s feelings and are able to listen more carefully as well as observe others better than men. Perhaps this could also mean that women nurses might have higher EQ than male nurses.

Since women generally possess greater intuition than men, it can be an influencing factor for the potential of having higher EI scores among the female nurses. To support the view of women as having greater intuition than men, Moir and Jessel (1994) as cited by McKinnon (2005), showed in their research that “the more bulbous corpus callosum consistently found in women suggest greater capacity for interplay between specialized centres in the right and left hemispheres of the brain.” This implies that women have superior predisposition toward more accurate interpretation of people’s actions. I wonder if male nurses would agree to this. Perhaps more investigations on EI between male and female nurses should be done by nurse researchers today.

Length of Experience

Some people think that experience is the best teacher. I think I agree to this. Emotional intelligence is more than just a concept. It is a phenomenon in our lives that we can only harness and master through our lifespan’s experiences.

We usually attach our emotions to our experiences and these continue to influence our decision-making skills (Reeves, 2005) and even our problem-solving skills. We  become better nurses as we grow in experience within our respective fields. With the lessons we learn from our experiences of achievements and failures and even among those around us, we learn to put ourselves on other people’s shoes, we learn to really hear them and can even predict outcomes both good and bad.

Regardless of which factor influence your level of emotional intelligence, it is important that as a professional nurse, you are not only intellectually mature but should also have high emotional intelligence. After all, our profession is beyond health care cost and technical efficiency. The very essence of nursing will always be caring and this requires emotional intelligence.

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Freslyn Lim

About Freslyn Lim

I am a Registered Nurse currently taking my PhD in Nursing. I earned my Masters in Nursing major in Nursing Administration in March 2011 and had my clinical experience as Staff Nurse in the ICU, Pediatrics and NICU. I am presently a nurse educator/clinical instructor.

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