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Well-Being and Archives

Managing Occupational Well-Being during COVID-19 and Beyond to Promote Wellness

The deepest driver for well-being is the need for meaning and purpose.1 Purpose provides a sense of direction and motivates us to engage in activities that provide value. The COVID-19 pandemic created uncertainty and upended routines, schedules and habits in daily lives. When this occurs, a sense of purpose can be lost, especially when it involves the occupational dimension of well-being. As a surgeon, occupational well-being is critical to overall well-being. Feeling fulfilled and seeking a career path that allows one to demonstrate their gifts, skills and talent while gaining a sense of purpose, happiness and enrichment in life is vital.

Achieving an optimal occupational well-being results in more positive emotions, energy and concentration, along with positive experiences involving satisfaction, commitment, involvement or engagement.

Occupational well-being is critical to a surgeon's work and career. Research demonstrates that occupational well-being also can contribute to improved patient satisfaction and interpersonal aspects of care.

Occupational well-being is influenced by your values, compassion and purpose. As a surgeon, engaging in the occupational dimension remains important at every stage of your career, especially in times of change and uncertainty. According to a 2019 Forbes article, "A sense of purpose pushes us out of complacency and into proactivity, resulting in healthier decisions and richer experiences, even among our feelings of isolation, anxiety, and sadness."2

In coping with the significant effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, it can be helpful to review some basic components of managing your occupational well-being. Access the following resources to get started:


Authentic Happiness at the University of Pennsylvania offers a variety of questionnaires focused on well-being and various areas that contribute to well-being. In relationship to your occupational well-being, we highlight the following questionnaires available:

PERMA-H Assessment
Located underneath Flourishing Questionnaires, The PERMA Model was devised by prominent psychologist, Martin Seligman. It is a breakdown of the individual elements of life that can help cultivate greater happiness and well-being overall. These elements are the foundation of happiness, and understanding how they apply to the self is key to understanding where you might be able to make positive changes.

Satisfaction with Life Scale
Located underneath Life Satisfaction Questionnaires, The Satisfaction with Life Scale was developed to assess satisfaction with people's lives. The scale does not assess satisfaction with specific life domains, such as health or finances, but allows subjects to integrate and weigh these domains in whatever way they choose

Meaning In Life Questionnaire
Located underneath Meaning Questionnaires, The Meaning In Life Questionnaire helps people understand and track their perceptions about their lives. The Presence of Meaning subscale measures how full you feel your life is of meaning. The Search for Meaning subscale measures how engaged and motivated you are in efforts to find meaning or deepen your understanding of meaning in your life.


Want to Stay Healthy? Having Purpose Is an Ideal Starting Point

Exercising Heart and Head in Managing Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Wuhan

Service to Others May Be the Answer to Physician Burnout

Association Between Life Purpose and Mortality Among US Adults Older Than 50 Years

Purpose in Life and Its Relationship to All-Cause Mortality and Cardiovascular Events: A Meta-Analysis

What's Your Purpose? Finding A Sense Of Meaning In Life Is Linked To Health

The Negativity Bias: Why the Bad Stuff Sticks

TEDx Talk

Beyond the Cliff by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky

In this talk, Ms. van Dernoot offers a window into the cumulative toll that can occur when we are exposed to the suffering, hardship, crisis or trauma of other people and living beings, including the planet itself. Held within a larger context of systematic oppression and liberation theory, the talk dives into challenges related to hardship or crisis and how to work toward reconciling them both individually and collectively.


  1. Gordon M. What's your purpose? Finding a sense of meaning in life is linked to health. National Public Radio. May 25, 2019. Available at: Accessed November 9, 2020.
  2. Fraser-Thill R. Want to stay healthy? Having purpose is an ideal start. Forbes. April 19, 2020. Available at: Accessed November 9, 2020.