Theme Leader, Leadership
Member of the NEJM Catalyst Leadership Board

Stephen Swensen, MD, MMM, FACR

Medical Director for Professionalism and Peer Support
Intermountain Healthcare

Dr. Swensen is dedicated to the development of thoughtful leaders who have the capability to nurture camaraderie and joy in work. He is a recognized, well-published expert in professional burnout.

He serves as the Medical Director for Professionalism and Peer Support at Intermountain Healthcare and as a Senior Fellow of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, where he co-leads their Joy in Work Initiative.

In the preceding three decades he served patients at the Mayo Clinic. As Director for Leadership and Organization Development, he co-led professional burnout work and oversaw the development of 4,100 physicians and scientists. As Director for Quality, Dr. Swensen established the Quality Academy and the Value Creation System. More than 37,000 colleagues were certified Quality Fellows during his tenure.

While Chair of the Department of Radiology, his leadership team used Lean-Sigma and Baldrige to create value for patients provided by 1,200 staff who performed more than 1 million exams annually.

A full professor, he has been Principal Investigator of two NIH Grants and has authored two books and 167 peer-reviewed articles. He was honored with the Diamond Quality Fellow Lifetime Achievement Award.

Swensen has served as a Director on two boards and as a member of the Mayo Clinic Management Team. During the two past decades he has started three businesses.

He holds a Master of Medical Management from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School and is a trained Executive Coach. He received his MD from the University of Wisconsin. His residency training was at the Mayo Clinic and his Thoracic Radiology Fellowship at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Swensen served as President of two international groups: the Fleischner Society and the Society of Thoracic Radiology. He founded the Big Sky Group and the Sun Valley Roundtable.

Swensen has been married for 40 years, has two children, and has run or cross-country skied 39 marathons.


Leadership Survey: Anticipating the Trump Administration’s Impact on Health Care

NEJM Catalyst Insights Council members predict no clear winners, only losers. Some of their concerns have already been borne out.

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Preventable Deaths in American Hospitals

Most preventable deaths via medical error in U.S. hospitals have a second victim: those involved in their care.

Sinsky Panel Clip Still: Neither Victim nor Villain of Physician Burnout


Physicians: Neither Victim nor Villain

When it comes to burnout, physicians have a responsibility to say “that’s not sustainable.”


Leadership Survey: Why Physician Burnout Is Endemic, and How Health Care Must Respond

NEJM Catalyst Insights Council members point to the clerical burden caused by electronic health records as a proximate cause of physician burnout.

Christine Sinsky and Tait Shanafelt Panel Clip Still: Debunking Healthcare Leadership Myths


Debunking Leadership Myths

If you were appointed the head of CMS or a major hospital system and given carte blanche, what changes would you make first?


Leadership Survey: Physicians Come First in Achieving Change

The first NEJM Catalyst Insights Council survey on Leadership examines the drivers of change in health care delivery, and what leaders must do to prepare their organizations.


Getting Back to Medicine as a Community

How the COMPASS program at Mayo Clinic is encouraging physician camaraderie and community to combat burnout.

Steve Swensen Video Clip Still: Immunized Against Burnout


Immunized Against Burnout: On Finding Pride in Work

How one custodian made the connection between what she does every day and saving lives.


Despite Burnout, There’s Still Joy in Medicine

Physician burnout may start younger than we think. So how can we keep physicians in medicine for the reasons that made them want to practice in the first place?

Steve Swensen Talk Still: Health Care's Most Important KPI - Social Capital


Health Care’s Most Important KPI: Social Capital

How strong camaraderie positively impacts both the satisfaction and the outcomes of a health care organization.

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