Emotional Intelligence in Veterinary Medicine, Part 1: What is EQ and Why Do I Need It? - Vet Relief Staffing | Veterinary System Services

Emotional Intelligence in Veterinary Medicine, Part 1: What is EQ and Why Do I Need It?

The balance between book smarts and street smarts is a constant tight rope we walk in veterinary medicine. You want to be someone who knows all the things—you want to have street smarts—but, at the same time, you want to work well with others and communicate with clients like a ninja. In a field of type-A personalities, this can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack.

But, what does it mean to have street smarts? Someone who seems to be “street smart” really just has a high level of emotional intelligence (EQ).


And, studies show that EQ is quite beneficial:

  • According to a study by TalenSmart, emotional intelligence influences 58 percent of success across every type of job.
  • In an article published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, Joseph C. Rode and his co-authors reported that emotional intelligence is linked to higher salaries and increased job satisfaction.
  • A 2001 study conducted in the U.K. found that supermarket staff who had high levels of EQ were happier, had a healthier work-life balance, and enjoyed better health.


What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is what allows us to understand ourselves and the world in which we live. It helps us deal with the pressures of life. There are two major factors that define emotional intelligence:

  • Cognitive intelligence — This is your ability to think rationally, act with purpose, and manage your environment.
  • Social intelligence — This is your awareness of yourself and others.


What’s your EQ?

To assess your EQ, you must practice self-awareness. Ask yourself: How well do I manage myself, my relationships, my feelings in the moment, and my emotions? “I’m pretty good at all those things” is a common initial response, but take this online test for a little dose of reality.



Being an emotionally intelligent person is HARD work. It plays a role in every conversation you have (with yourself and others). It shows up in your relationships, your tendencies, your values… it even goes all the way back to your early learned behaviors that shaped who you are today. And, EQ plays a huge role in how others perceive you. While it is terrifying to evaluate yourself under the microscope of EQ, the good news is that you can increase your EQ with a little bit of work. Start by taking a deep look into yourself to get insight into your needs and motivations when dealing with others.

Here’s a scenario to give you a little taste of how you can use emotional intelligence:

Your colleague left you a catheter taped with no tabs. And, *deep breath* it’s soaked in drool. What do you do?

Try this:

  • Distance yourself from the situation
  • Use logic to figure out how to best reach your goals
  • Have a clear idea of what your goal is
  • Maintain strong values, like honesty, openness, adaptability, and conscientiousness
  • Use empathy to understand another’s perspective and feelings



Emotional intelligence is not for the faint of heart—being self-aware is harder than it looks. Fortunately, scientists have discovered this crazy thing called neuroplasticity, which is the ability for our brains to adapt and change. If you have the willpower to shape your brain toward awareness, control, and positivity, you could be the happiest billionaire alive—results not guaranteed—or, you may just end up loving your life quite a bit more, and that can make all the difference. Please click here for part two in this series.




KG Headshot

Kristina is an Account Manager with VSS, a leadership coach, and a Certified Veterinary Technician. She and her goofy giraffe/dog named Wesson love to take long bike rides together. Kristina also enjoys drawing veterinary cartoons, photography, yoga, and traveling the world. Professionally, Kristina is passionate about the subject of leadership and well-being.