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Scott Clewis

Trial Attorney, Clewis & Associates 


Master of Applied Positive Psychology, University of Pennsylvania ‘19
Juris Doctor, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology ‘98
Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Speech Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ‘87

Scott Clewis (Master of Applied Positive Psychology ‘19) has been interested in the concept of resilience for nearly as long as he has worked in law. A trial attorney who specializes in representing victims of medical malpractice, Scott observed that physicians involved in legal suits often suffered symptoms of trauma and stress. “Mistakes happen in every profession, in every walk of life,” reflects Scott. “How do individuals confront adversity, challenges, or life struggles and maintain their resilience? How are they able to bounce back?” These questions drew him to the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at Penn. “Penn is at the vanguard of research and training in psychological resilience,” says Scott. “I knew that, through this program, I would further my expertise and develop a more sophisticated understanding of the strengths that enable individuals and organizations to optimize their potential.”

Over the course of his education on resilience and adjacent positive psychology topics, Scott narrowed his focus to a capstone project on second victim syndrome, or the psychological trauma that affects health professionals who are involved in medical errors. “When I reviewed the literature, I found some preliminary programs that provided aid to physicians who had already been part of an adverse event, but nothing to proactively help physicians develop a more resilient and adaptive mindset,” he explains. “One of the critical reasons that I wanted to participate in MAPP is to develop a science-based foundation for helping health care systems create supportive environments to implement evidence-based programs to increase the resilience of medical providers.”

Scott authored a capstone proposing a series of proactive, science-based, cognitive behavioral resilience interventions aimed at teaching medical students and physicians at all stages of training, practice, and education to manage their thoughts and emotions surrounding medical errors and adverse events. He hypothesized that arming these individuals with interventions related to cognition and emotional regulation will equip them to maintain resilience or even thrive in the face of medical errors and adverse events, which could prevent or mitigate the severe consequences of second victim syndrome.  

Throughout the program, Scott was also impressed with the robust research showing that personal relationships increase resilience and life satisfaction. “I find that people in high-stress professions frequently spend so much time working that they neglect family relationships, friendships, even high-quality connections between themselves and people they meet in passing, which have been scientifically demonstrated to increase happiness,” he says, adding that “medicine and law are extraordinarily high-stress professions. Though the work I’d like to do with physicians and medical providers is a passion of mine, another significant interest is making sure lawyers are equipped with the tools necessary to mitigate against stress and increase well-being.”

Scott practices what he preaches on this subject, as he recently completed the intensive MAPP program while maintaining his regular working hours as a trial attorney. “The program was extremely challenging in terms of time management, and you really couldn't cut corners if you wanted to do it right,” he recalls. But for working adults, he says, “there is tremendous support. The faculty and staff have put together the most caring, devoted, organized, thoughtful program I've ever encountered in my career. They were extraordinarily accessible and always willing to lend advice on every paper and every project that we worked on, so we never felt alone or on an island.”

Program format

Learn more abot MAPP's innovative hybrid program delivery model.

Am I eligible to apply?

Admission to the master's program is highly selective. Learn more about applicant qualifications.

Courses and curriculum

History, theory, research, and professional application—completed in one year of full-time study.