Win as Much as You Can

by Timothy Gieseke MD, CMD

As the recipient of the 2018 CALTCM Leadership Award at this month’s annual meeting, I have had time to reflect on my career in medicine and the events that shaped that career.  I recalled my wife’s decision to become a pediatric physical therapist, in large part related to volunteer work she had done in High School at “We Care for Children.” ( and how that led this “Lone Ranger” trained physician to highly value the work of the various disciplines in our specialty. 

Are we providing similar volunteer opportunities for high school students in our settings of care?  I am so grateful for “We Care.”

I’m also grateful for Connie Sabin, the DON who took a chance that I might become a good Medical Director for a newly opened CCRC in my community in 1986.  She patiently trained me in my role while providing information from AMDA that helped me see what I needed to learn. Before JAMDA and AMDA’s CPGs (Clinical Practice Guidelines) existed, Dr. David Brechtelsbauer, a past President of AMDA from South Dakota, regularly wrote articles in Caring for the Ages that helped me deliver thoughtful care to my patients and constructively influence the care we provided our CCRC residents.  David encouraged attendance at the state chapter annual meeting, which I did in 1992. At CAMD (forerunner of CALTCM), I found my professional home.  With encouragement from that and subsequent meetings, I saw the need for more formal training as a Medical Director.

In the Fall of 1995, I was privileged to attend one of the last AMDA certification courses in Minneapolis chaired by Dr. James Pattee.  At that time, the certification course was spread out over 9 months with homework in between 3 sessions of 4 days each. During the first session, we were introduced to the game, “Win as Much as You Can”, which is a frustrating seemingly childish game that almost caused one of our members to drop out of the program in disgust.  However, for me it was a memorable and valuable training regarding the important relational elements of any collaborative effort. For collaborations to be maximally effective, each of the participants needs to know they are respected, heard, and accommodated. If anyone wins more at the expense of others, this triggers a defensiveness that ultimately leads to everyone (including the winner) losing.  

I was pleasantly “surprised” to see multiple family members at the awards presentation, including my older brother and his wife from Boise, my sister from Sonoma County, and 2 of my 3 children.  After the meeting, my brother, who is retired, but the President of his LCA congregation, asked if I could send him the above mentioned game. I’m including that link here and commend it to your review:  

Finally, I’m grateful to Dr. Chris Mlot, former CALTCM President and sponsor of this award (Mlot Family Foundation), who challenged attendees at an annual meeting years ago with the important question, “Is it time for you to give back to CALTCM?”  I’m glad that I took that challenge to heart. It seems impossible, but it truly is better to give than to receive.