The 2016 Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards in the early-career physician category honor Keith M. Swetz, MD, MA, FACP, FAAHPM, section chief and medical director of palliative care at the Birmingham VA Medical Center and an associate professor at University of Alabama School of Medicine in the division of gerontology, geriatrics, and palliative care. In the specialties of heart failure and palliative care he is respected by colleagues for his expertise, insights, and compassion, and as a role model and an innovator. The selection committee said that Dr. Swetz “is on a clear trajectory to be a future leader in medicine.”
Colleagues speak of him as “walking the walk” of patient- and family-centered care, making house calls for patients in need, “regardless of the distance and inconvenience,” and following patients with critical issues through holidays and weekends. Patients cite Dr. Swetz’s ability to listen, inspire trust, and learn what matters to them. A colleague said, “I have seen Dr. Swetz sit down with patients at the bedside time and again to have frank and compassionate discussions with them about their projected illness trajectory, and to help them think about important hopes and goals for their life in light of this.”
Dr. Swetz, who has a master’s degree in bioethics and health policy from Loyola University Chicago, has a strong interest in ethical decision-making, particularly as it relates to advanced medical technologies. He has written more than 75 peer-reviewed manuscripts and given more than 150 educational presentations related to these topics.
Dr. Swetz received his medical degree from Pennsylvania State University in 2003.