By Matthew Brett

Clinicians and trainees are constantly confronted with emotional events in clinical settings, yet emotion can be neglected in teaching, research and in clinical settings. Dr. Vicki LeBlanc will be diving into this rich topic at the Health Sciences Education Rounds on October 24 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. in the Meakins Amphitheatre at the McIntyre Medical Sciences Building.

Evidence from the neurosciences indicates that emotions have a significant impact on how we perceive the world around us, yet the influence of emotions on clinical thinking, crisis management, reasoning and learning are rarely broached.

We need to understand how clinicians’ emotional states affect their ability to interpret information, make decisions and remember critical information, Dr. LeBlanc says. This greater understanding will shape how clinicians teach, provide feedback and offer debriefing, as well as how teachers and mentors assess learners.

Dr. LeBlanc is Chair and Professor of the Department of Innovation in Medical Education at the University of Ottawa and Director of the University of Ottawa Skills and Simulation Centre. She has over 20 years’ experience leading research into optimizing the use of simulation in health professions education, and the effects of emotions and stress on the performance of health professionals and front line workers.

She has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications and regularly presents her work nationally and internationally. In addition to her research program, she works with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada to advance simulation-based education nationally and internationally, and serves as an Associate Editor of the journal Advances in Health Sciences Education.

We asked her a few questions in anticipation of her talk:

How do emotions relate to learning and clinical practice?

Emotions are powerful and pervasive. At any given time, we are in one emotional state or another, whether it is anxiety about having to manage an uncertain event with important stakes, anger at an unsatisfactory outcome or joy after an unexpected positive outcome. These emotions have an important effect on how we perceive the world around us, what we remember from events, our perceptions of risks, our judgments and our impressions of others. In fact, the human brain is built in such a way that it prioritizes emotional information over more neutral information. As a result, how we perform in clinical situations and what we learn from them can be affected by our emotional states.


Why do emotions matter for learning and clinical work?

We’ve historically attempted to understand learning and performance independently of emotions. In fact, we tend to prioritize reason over emotions. Emotions are viewed as confusing and potentially distracting to reason. However, because they are so powerful and pervasive, emotions cannot easily be pushed aside and, increasingly, research suggests that attempts at suppressing or avoiding emotions can have negative physical and psychological outcomes. Rather, if we can better understand how emotions affect our attention, our memory and our judgment, then we can both think about designing systems that account for the role of emotions, as well as learn to recognize when emotions are beneficial and when we would benefit from emotional regulation that is adaptive to a situation.


What do you hope people will gain from your talk?

By attending my talk, people will learn – with the use of powerful examples – how emotions affect the way we see, remember and act on the world around us, and they will learn how a broader consideration of the role of emotions can help us better understand how to support our learners and health professionals as they navigate the often emotional world of health care.


Emotional is Not Irrational: Rethinking The Role of Emotions In Learning & Clinical Skills
With Dr. Vicki LeBlanc
Click Here To Register
4:00 to 5:30 p.m., Thursday, October 24
Meakins Amphitheatre, 5th floor, McIntyre Medical Sciences Building
3655 Promenade Sir-William-Osler
A reception will follow the event.



September 19 2019