The capacity for recognizing the feelings of others is an invaluable asset for those with careers in nursing—and emotional intelligence is something you can learn as you earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

A nurse with stethoscope draped around her neck reaches out to a seated patient.

“How could someone so smart act so dumb?” That admittedly harsh question sparked a conversation in which psychology professors John Mayer (Yale University) and Peter Salovey (University of New Hampshire) coined the term “emotional intelligence.” In short, they determined that smart decision making requires more than the intellect as measured by traditional IQ.* Years later, the concept of emotional intelligence is being applied to a number of professions in order to achieve greater success— including the field of nursing.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to assess and control your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others and groups. For nurses, this is an important skill that has been incorporated into a number of curriculums—including traditional and online nursing degree programs—with a goal of training nurses to incorporate emotional intelligence into their decision making and patient care.

Walden Offers 80+ Online Programs to Move Your Life Forward, find your program now.

One of the primary models for emotional intelligence comes from psychologist and author Daniel Goleman and classifies emotional competencies into four specific domains. They include:*

Social Awareness
Relationship Management

For those enrolled in traditional or online BSN programs, these four domains can be directly related to the qualities you possess as a nurse.

Self-Awareness: Knowing what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it is self-awareness. This is the basis of good intuition and decision making, and can indicate a number of valuable qualities, including strong problem-solving skills, commitment, teachability, and passion.

Self-Management: Nursing careers often require you to effectively handle stressful emotions so that your work is not affected. This is especially important when working with terminally ill patients, or with anyone who might be suffering. Self-management skills also include positive emotions and aligning our actions with our passions.

Social Awareness: Empathy and understanding emotional cues are not always taught as part of typical bachelor’s degree programs, but for nurses, they should be. A high level of social awareness indicates that you are a good listener, generous, and are able to recognize or anticipate a patient’s needs—all qualities of a great nurse.

Relationship Management: School of nursing students (and graduates) who have strong emotional intelligence can influence others, manage conflict, and make others feel good about themselves—in other words, they have strong relationship-management skills.

For many nursing students, emotional intelligence comes naturally. For others, it can be—and should be—learned. If you’re interested in a career in nursing and earning your degree with the flexibility that online nursing degree programs can offer, explore the School of Nursing at Walden University.

* Six Seconds, The Emotional Intelligence Network, Dr. Daniel Goleman on the Origins of Emotional Intelligence, on the Internet at

Man sitting at latop
Whether looking for information on programs, admissions, or financial aid, we're here to help.
Whether looking for information on programs, admissions, or financial aid, we're here to help.
Talk to your personal enrollment advisor for more information today. Please use our International Form if you live outside of the U.S.
Talk to your personal enrollment advisor for more information today. Please use our Domestic Form if you live in the U.S.
*Required Field
Academic Interests
Contact Information
Invalid email address
Please provide a valid phone number
Please provide a valid zipcode
Additional Information
Get Started

By submitting this form, I understand and agree that Walden University may contact me via email, text, telephone, and prerecorded message regarding furthering my education and that calls may be generated using automated technology. You may opt out at any time. Please view our privacy policy or contact us for more details.


By checking this box, I agree that Walden University may contact me by email, text message, autodialed telephone call, and prerecorded message at the contact information provided above regarding opportunities and offers to further my education. I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time and that my consent is not a condition of any purchase. I have received the Walden University Privacy Policy