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University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies releases white paper on American workers’ well-being and career pathways

By Sharla Hooper

Dr. Karen Johnson, Dr. Juana Lang and Dr. Lucinda Hines leverage 2023 Career Optimism Index® study findings to explore connections between employee well-being and their perceptions of career trajectory

University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies has released a new white paper, “The American Workforce’s Health Card: Well-Being and Career Trajectories,” authored by Karen Johnson, Ed.D., research methodology group leader in the University’s Center for Educational and Instructional Technology Research (CEITR), Juana Lang, Ed.D., M.Ed., fellow in the University’s Center for Leadership Studies and Organizational Research (CLSOR), and Lucinda Hines, DHA, MBA, which leverages 2023 Career Optimism Index® findings to understand trends in American workers’ well-being and perceptions of career trajectory.

The white paper aims to examine and provide insights into American workers’ well-being and their perceived career trajectory through the Conservation of Resources Theory lens and the tenets of Self-Efficacy. The data used to support these trends has been extracted from the 2023 Career Optimism Index® in which 5,000 American workers comprised the sample and completed a survey. The resulting findings from the survey revealed that mental health remains a problem, mainly in younger generations and women. 

“The American workforce is the pillar holding our economy strong,” states Johnson. “Accordingly, it is vital to furnish workers with valuable physical and psychological resources that may yield positive changes in well-being and enhance career trajectory outcomes.”

In her current role as a University Research Methodologist and previously as a committee chair in the doctoral program, Johnson has helped guide more than 100 students through the dissertation process. She also serves as a reviewer for the College of Doctoral Studies’ student publication workshop. Johnson earned a doctorate in Higher Education from Texas Tech University and completed her Master of Arts in Secondary Education and bachelor’s degree with University of Texas.

Johnson has been a faculty member at the University of Phoenix since 2005.

Lang is a part-time college instructor and a full-time K-12 educator with has an extensive career in Texas and Florida schools for over 25 years. A research fellow in CLSOR, she also works in different research teams in association with CEITR and is part of the mentorship program developed by the University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies. She earned her doctorate and master’s degrees in education with the University of Phoenix.

Hines is a health care executive with 30 years of health care administration experience with the Department of the Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, having served in an array of leadership roles including Chief, Superintendent of Medical Operations/Inspector, Manager of Medical Readiness, Facility Lead for Credentialing and Privileging, and the Air Force lead for Professional Medical Staff Management. Hines has a Master of Business Administration degree from Charleston Southern University and earned her doctorate in Healthcare Administration at the University of Phoenix. Hines is affiliated with CLSOR.

The full whitepaper is available at the University of Phoenix Career Institute® webpage or as a direct link here.

About the College of Doctoral Studies

University of Phoenix’s College of Doctoral Studies focuses on today’s challenging business and organizational needs, from addressing critical social issues to developing solutions to accelerate community building and industry growth. The College’s research program puts students in the center of an effective ecosystem of experts, resources and tools to help prepare them to be a leader in their organization, industry and community. Through this program, students and researchers work with organizations to conduct research that can be applied in the workplace in real time.

About the Career Optimism Index® 

The Career Optimism Index® study is one of the most comprehensive studies of Americans' personal career perceptions to date. The University of Phoenix Career Institute® conducts this research annually to provide insights on current workforce trends and to help identify solutions to support and advance American careers and create equity in the workplace. For the third annual study, fielded between December 9, 2022 – January 13, 2023, more than 5,000 U.S. adults were surveyed on how they feel about their careers at this moment in time, including their concerns, their challenges, and the degree to which they are optimistic about core aspects of their careers. The study was conducted among a diverse, nationally representative, sample of U.S. adults among a robust sample to allow for gender, generational, racial, and socioeconomic differences and includes additional analysis of the workforce in the top twenty DMA markets across the country to uncover geographic nuances. The study also explores insights from 500 U.S. employers who are influential or play a critical role in hiring and workplace decisions within a range of departments, company sizes and industries to provide comparison between the workforce and those who hire, train, and retain them.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, and Career Services for Life® committment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit