Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career and Higher Education

Major Professor

Rosemary Closson, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

William H. Young III, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Vonzell Agosto, Ph.D.


Social Intelligence, Competency, Human Resource Development, Inclusion, Organizational Environment


Emotional intelligence (EI) has not been studied extensively within the Veterans’ Health Administration (VHA). The VHA is the largest healthcare organization in America with over 360,000 employees and the organization invests heavily in competency development. The Tampa VA is a level 1 facility with over 5,000 employees in the Tampa Bay area. The facilities Education office offers competency development through soft skills training, leadership development, and contracted courses that include emotional intelligence for leaders.

The purpose of this study was to better discern ten Tampa VA medical center employees understanding and application of EI competence within their personal and professional lives. A series of qualitative interviews, focus groups, and an emotional intelligence curriculum were conducted over a six-month span in order to help participants improve their individual emotional intelligence competence.

Findings confirm significant benefits for participants including increased EI competencies of self-awareness and self-management of emotions. Improvement also led to benefits including improved relationships, teamwork, and the ability to manage stress and change. Findings in this study were consistent with existing literature on EI specifically in regard to the possibility of improving EI competencies through training. An unanticipated finding was that only African American employees felt spirituality and upbringing contributed to initial development of emotional intelligence. Implications for theory include the need for an exploration of the potential influence of diversity and inclusion on the development of EI, and the need to explore the possibility of racial bias in the 360-assessment. Of the numerous implications for practice the most salient is that the provision of facility-wide opportunities for EI training for teams, leaders, aspiring leaders, and entry-level staff would be beneficial. Training could also be tailored to address specific challenges faced within the healthcare setting such as burnout, compassion fatigue, stress management, customer service, conflict management, and employee satisfaction. As this type of employee development is expanded to larger numbers of employees, it has the potential to significantly improve the organizational culture at the Tampa VA, which in turn will produce greater outcomes for our nations’ Veterans.