Theme Leader, Leadership
Member of the NEJM Catalyst Leadership Board

Stephen Swensen, MD, MMM, FACR

Medical Director for Leadership and Organization Development
Mayo Clinic

Dr. Stephen Swensen is the Medical Director for Leadership and Organization Development and a Professor an the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. He is a Senior Fellow of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

From 2005–2012 he served as the Director for Quality and Associate Dean for Value. Under his leadership, the Quality Academy and the Value Creation System were established. More than 37,000 colleagues have been certified as Bronze, Silver, or Gold Quality Fellows. Dr. Swensen has been conferred the Diamond Quality Fellow Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Swensen chaired the Department of Radiology from 1998–2006. His leadership team used Lean-Sigma and Baldrige methods to improve the value of care for patients provided by 1,200 staff who performed more than one million exams annually. During his tenure the department was recognized as the No. 1 Radiology Practice in the U.S. (Medical Imaging) and the most Patient-Centered (Diagnostic Imaging).

Dr. Swensen has served as a Director on three Boards and as a member of the Mayo Clinic Management Team and Clinical Practice Committee.

He holds a Master of Medical Management from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School. Dr. Swensen 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.

Dr. Swensen is past President of two international societies: the Fleischner Society and the Society of Thoracic Radiology. He teaches Value Creation at the School of Public Health in the University of Minnesota. He chaired the American College of Radiology’s Quality Metrics Committee and led the RSNA’s Continuous Quality Improvement Initiative. He founded the Big Sky Quality Roundtable, the Keystone Quality Officer Group, and the Sun Valley Quality Assembly.

He has been Principal Investigator of three NIH grants related to lung cancer screening with CT and diffuse infiltrative lung disease. He has authored two books and 146 peer-reviewed articles.

During the two past decades, Dr. Swensen has started three businesses. He has been married for 38 years and has two children. He has run or cross-country skied 38 marathons.

Preventable Deaths and Medical Errors in American Hospitals - Panel Discussion Image Still


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.


The Vital Connection Between Camaraderie and Leadership

Most preventable harm arises from defects in communication and handoff. Here’s how to build a trusting and interconnected team.

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