Case studies | Healthcare | Shirley Ryan AbilityLab


Physicians at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

How one of the world’s most innovative hospitals addressed healthcare’s biggest problem.


Situation: Physician burnout has reached record highs, with 54% of doctors reporting weekly burnout symptoms – double that of the general population. The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab decided to tackle this problem head on with its medical students.

Solution: Six Seconds’ partner, Equip Studios, worked with Dr. James Sliwa and the leadership team to create healthcare specific EQ training workshops and measure the results with pre and post assessments.

Results: A measurable increase in the students’ EQ levels and capacity to avoid burnout. The percentage of those considered at risk for burnout declined from 30% to 5%, and those in the peak performance zone increased from 0% to 55%.

“The big takeaway for me is that these are measurable, learnable skills, and you can see improvement with even a modest investment of time and energy.” 

Dr. James Sliwa

Chief Medical Officer, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab


The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, formerly known as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, is the top-ranked rehabilitation hospital in the US and one of the leading innovators in healthcare. Alarmed by the physician burnout epidemic and inspired by a growing body of research linking emotional intelligence to increased performance and greater resilience, the leadership team decided to pilot an EQ training program for its first-year residents.


Because of the intense demands of the resident physicians’ schedules, the entire EQ training consisted of a 30-minute introduction to EQ and three 45-minute workshops. Kelli Schulte of Equip Studios worked with Dr. James Sliwa to present the residents with common challenges that arise in healthcare, and discuss how to apply EQ for an effective resolution. Then they used Six Seconds’ SEI assessment to measure the program’s impact.




Percentage of participants in burnout risk zone decreased from 30% to 5%.




Percentage of participants in peak performance zone increased by 55%.




Overall EQ scores for the medical students increased by an average of 13%.


Products & Services Delivered

EQ Skills

SEI – Six Seconds’ Emotional Intelligence Assessment is a validated psychometric tool for measuring emotional intelligence, used with over 250k people worldwide. Read more about SEI. 

Group Dynamics

GDR – The Group Development Report is a validated assessment that quickly captures essential indicators of your group’s health, sustainability and potential. Read more about GDR.


Coaching – Six Seconds’ coaching methodology blends neuroscience with the International Coach Federation competencies supercharged with the power of EQ. Read more about Six Seconds’ Coaching

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