Are You Seeing this Delusional Behavior from Your Leadership Team??

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

We call it the SINE WAVE DELUSION and it goes like this:

  • Your organization lost money in the last year because of lower patient visit and surgery volumes due to COVID-19. It was a Pandemic Profit Crater.

  • The leadership team cut your support staff in an effort to cut expenses/save money. Keep the ship afloat, weather the storm was the thinking. Mission accomplished, you are still here.

  • Now they expect you to make up the income shortfall by producing higher patient visit volumes and RVU's than ever before, without giving you back the support staff to hit those production targets. Just Spin that Gerbil Wheel Faster! If you can see even more patients with lower staff expense, we will be able to make up last years losses. Come on, you are a team player aren't you?

  • And now doctors are quitting. Burned out and bloodied, many labeled as disruptive. It is the healthiest thing to do for you and your family in many cases.

  • You haven't quit yet - and the thought of abandoning your patients, staff and colleagues keeps you rooted to your current practice, despite these lunatic work expectations.

This guilt/shame/fear of abandonment is normal in physicians. Some leaders count on your personal work ethic and sense of responsibility to keep you seeing patients despite unreasonable production expectations. Words to live by: Don't be the last rat off a sinking ship!
And there is no reason for a hostile workplace like this, especially given what we have all just been through. Here is a link to discuss positive options and a healthy leadership response. 


Does this sound familiar?


physician-burnout-sine-wave-delusion-COVID-19You remember a Sine Wave right? It is perfectly symmetric, with the same area under the curve whether it is above or below the baseline. It is a beautiful up and down undulating wave form.

To think that physician productivity can be forced into a Sine Wave shape is a Leadership Delusion.

Making up for the losses of the COVID-19 pandemic by simply working harder is impossible in the real world - especially if you took away our MA's, nurses and other support staff and have not returned them.

It has gotten so bad, that doctors are abandoning some large practices in impressive numbers.

I learned this week of a huge academic center that lost 18 members of a single department this year because of these unrealistic productivity goals and deliberate understaffing.

Here is a training I recorded last year on the SINE WAVE DELUSION 

  • How to recognize it
  • What to do about it


If it is time for you to consider finding a new position, here is our training to make sure you find a much more Ideal Job this time around.



  • Is your leadership team suffering from this Sine Wave Delusion?
  • Is your team of support staff at full strength compared to Pre-COVID?
  • Are you seeing partners quit? Have you quit?


Tags: Physician Leadership, stop physician burnout