Theme Leader, Leadership
Member of the NEJM Catalyst Leadership Board

Stephen Swensen, MD, MMM, FACR

Professor Emeritus; Senior Fellow
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine; Institute for Healthcare Improvement


Dr. Swensen is dedicated to the support of thoughtful leaders and teams that have the capability to nurture esprit de corps. He is a recognized, well-published expert in leadership and professional burnout.

For 3 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 and 232 key leaders. As Director for Quality, he established the Quality Academy and the Value Creation System. More than 37,000 colleagues were certified as Quality Fellows during his tenure. As Department Chair, he and his team used Lean-Sigma and Baldrige to create value for patients.

He serves as a Senior Fellow of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement where his focus is Joy in Work. He works as the Leadership Theme Leader and member of the NEJM Catalyst Board.

A full professor, he has been Principal Investigator of two NIH Grants and has authored two books and 186 peer-reviewed articles. He was honored with the Diamond Quality Fellow Lifetime Achievement Award. Swensen served as President of two international professional groups. He founded the Big Sky Group and the Sun Valley Roundtable.

Swensen holds a Master of Medical Management from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School and is a trained Executive Coach. He has served as a Director on two Boards and as a member of the Mayo Clinic Management Team. He has started two businesses.

Swensen has been married for 41 years, has two children and has run or cross-country skied 39 marathons.

Nurse Leaders and Physician Leaders Should Be Considered Equals in Care Delivery - but Views of Nurses and Non-Nurses Differ

Leadership

Leadership Survey: Nurses as Leaders: Broad Acceptance, Room to Grow

Nurses are traditionally the backbone of patient care. They form the largest percentage of the health care workforce, far outstripping physicians. But are nurses leaders as well as doers?

Can Anybody Build a High-Performing Team panel clip still

Leadership

Can Anybody Build a High-Performing Team?

Can anyone in health care build a high-performing team? What does it take to build one?

Changing the Culture of Medicine Panel Clip Still

Leadership

Changing the Culture of Medicine: A Starting Point

Where does changing the culture of medicine begin?

What Health Care Leaders Should Stop Doing panel clip still

Leadership

What Health Care Leaders Should Stop Doing

We know what leaders need to do more of to create a culture of grit. But what should they stop doing?

sprit de Corps - Turning Vicious Cycle into Virtuous Cycle - Stephen Swensen high-performing organizations high-performing teams talk still

Leadership

Esprit de Corps: Turning Vicious Cycle Virtuous

Esprit de corps is the single most important indicator in which health care organizations have control over patient experience, outcomes, safety, and cost. How to get there? By co-creating quality.

Little Consensus Over Definition of High-Performing Organizations in Health Care

Leadership

Leadership Survey: High-Performing Organizations

Health care is rife with metrics and rating systems that purport to differentiate the good, bad, and mediocre. Every clinician and leader wants to be affiliated with a high-performing organization. But what constitutes high performance in health care?

Physician Clinician Burnout Is Extensive

Leadership

Leadership Survey: Immunization Against Burnout

Clinician burnout is far from being eliminated at health care organizations, but leaders, frontline physicians, and nurses are joining forces to get to the roots of the crisis.

Many Different Definitions of Stakeholder Alignment in a Health Care Organization

Leadership

Leadership Survey: Why Big Gaps in Organizational Alignment Matter

An NEJM Catalyst Insights Council survey finds that clinicians and leaders do not see eye-to-eye on many aspects of health care delivery.

Next-Generation Electronic Medical Record Panel Clip Still

Leadership

We’re a Bunch of Expensive Financial Clerks

Epic and Cerner are dead, Brent James says — what if we designed the system for physicians?

Trump Administration's Impact on Health Care: Healthcare Landscape Changes Under Trump Administration

Leadership

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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