Directors of residency training programs are now familiar with the expectations for learning and assessment within 6 core competencies, as required by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.1 Although the field of medical education has made great strides in developing innovative curricula within the competency framework, a lack of operational definitions continues to impede progress. We propose that the scientific concept of emotional intelligence (EI)2 has the potential to deepen understanding of the competency: interpersonal and communication skills. Although EI may relate to the other competencies as well, notably professionalism, this Commentary focuses on describing how EI contributes to interpersonal and communication skills. The theory of EI may help critically define the specific abilities and complex processes that underlie this competency and, in turn, lead to a better understanding of how to successfully integrate the development of these skills into graduate medical training.
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