Dan Christensen, Volunteer

December 01, 2012
Dan Christensen, Volunteer

When retiree Dan Christensen moved to Orange County from his native Oregon in September 2010, he immediately began searching for volunteer opportunities.

"I wanted to be somewhat intellectually stimulated so that I didn’t get rusty, so to speak," Christensen says. His wife, Susan Christensen suggested he look at UC Irvine Medical Center, where she is director of Medical Surgical Nursing.

Christensen wanted to work around people, something that volunteering at the medical center, Orange County’s only Level I trauma center and university hospital, gives him in spades.

But the decision to volunteer at a medical center didn’t come easily.

"I’m very uncomfortable in hospitals," Christensen confesses. "You don’t go to a hospital, from my point of view, unless something bad is going on either for yourself or somebody else."

After a few months volunteering at the medical center in Orange under his belt, Christensen has a new perspective: "I’ve discovered that there are very caring people here. They’re very concerned about their patients and concerned about the environment the patients are in."

Christensen, who retired as chief information officer from the Oregon Department of Forestry five years earlier, has a deep knowledge of complex organizations, which makes him suited for a wide variety of volunteer tasks.

"I get to help figure out systems and those kinds of things, which is very challenging," he says. "I like doing new things."

Other duties run the gamut from assorted office tasks to assisting with patient discharges and on-campus deliveries. He finds it especially gratifying to help visitors find their way around the medical center complex. When he sees someone with a map who looks lost, "I just walk up to them and ask, ‘Can I help you find something?’"

Christensen has always considered himself a worldly person, but volunteering at UC Irvine Medical Center has widened his perspective even more by giving him exposure to people from all walks of life.

"Orange County and the medical center are so multicultural," he says. "When you come to a place like this, you understand very quickly how small the world is and how big the world is here."

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