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Objective: New nurses may be vulnerable to bullying as they often lack confidence or do not have the skills or maturity to communicate their needs or those of their patients. Increasing emotional intelligence particularly in at-risk nursing students may be one way to foster resiliency. This exploratory cross sectional study aimed to exam the overall level and specific components of emotional intelligence as well as associations with age, ethnicity, gender, or academic standing in baccalaureate nursing students.

Methods: A cross sectional analytical study was conducted using a paper demographic survey and an online emotional intelligence (EI) instrument, the MSCEIT V2.0. A convenience sample of lower division nursing students attending a professional nursing course was recruited. Statistical analyses include demographic descriptives, EI total and sub score means and standard deviations, paired t-tests to compare within group differences, and simple and linear regression on seven different EI scores to examine predictive qualities of demographic variables.

Results: Overall total and many component EI scores were high average with variations noted within groups. Multiple linear regressions demonstrated that after controlling for all variables, a higher GPA and being Asian compared to White were associated with higher scores in mostly all components of EI. Four-year students scored higher than transfer students in understanding emotions. Being male was predictive of the branch, facilitating thought, and Latinos were associated with a higher score in perceiving emotions.

Conclusions: This study provides an in-depth exploration of not only total EI in a lower division nursing student sample, but a comprehensive examination of the components of emotional intelligence. EI measurements can be used to identify strengths and weaknesses in abilities that can be either gleaned, or developed as needed to faciliate creative problem solving, effective patient interactions, and to develop resiliency to incivility in the workplace.


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