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’s degree in 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.

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


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 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 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 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


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 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.

Stephen Swensen08 talk clip still: Care Designed by Patients - Three Wishes

Patient Engagement

What If Our Care Were Designed by Patients?

Patients have only three wishes when it comes to how they want to be cared for, and they’re not as complicated as you might think.

Strongwater05_panel_clip_still: The Role of Social Networks in Preventing Burnout


The Role of Social Networks in Preventing Burnout

What’s the role of social networks in preventing burnout, and what can health care leaders do to grow those networks?

Panel Discussion Still: What Advice Would You Give a Premed Student?


What Advice Would You Give a Premed Student?

There’s a large chance new physicians will burn out, so how do we keep the next generation motivated?


Leadership Survey: Ability to Lead Does Not Come from a Degree

NEJM Catalyst Insights Council members strongly favor dyad leadership shared between clinical and administrative leaders and say the top attribute for health care leaders is interpersonal skills.

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