Brady Christensen hopes to become a doctor in the future, so he has performed volunteer work at Springfield Regional Hospital while studying at Wittenberg University to gain as much practical undergraduate experience as possible. Fittingly, Christensen decided to fulfill his university-mandated community service project there as well, contributing his time and talents to help Springfield become a better place to live.
“I am applying to medical schools next year and there are a certain number of hours spent in a hospital in order to apply,” Christensen said. “I volunteer at Medina Hospital during the summer and at High Street during the school year. It worked out for my schedule to complete community service at the hospital while I was there already.”
Springfield Regional is building a new hospital in downtown Springfield and recently merged the services of Mercy Medical Center, adjacent to Wittenberg’s campus on Fountain Avenue, and Community Hospital on East High Street. Naturally, there have been many logistical challenges as Springfield prepares for one large hospital that will replace two existing facilities by 2012.
“I have been working during the transfer,” Christensen said. “There have been two differences. The first is that there are more volunteers who have moved over to High Street. They are now learning the layout of their new environment, but they are mostly the same type of person, hard working and out-going.
“The second is that we had to move our office in order to make room for employees from Mercy to move to High Street. All in all, the transition didn’t affect the volunteers all that much.”
Through his work in the patient services office, Christensen interacts with a wide range of community members who also volunteer at the hospital. He has learned a great deal about them and himself in the process.
“These volunteers have taught me many things,” he said. “These Springfielders are at least twice my age and they are always moving. They say, ’Well, I’m here, I might as well work.’ It could be 3:59 p.m., and our shift ends at 4, and they will take a call to discharge.
“People like them have taught me to work hard, even if you’re not being paid. I also interact with patients a great deal and the nursing staff is another large group of community members that I interact with. It seems they always have an answer to one of my questions.”
Christensen explained that since he was young he has always found it difficult to ask others for help, but he has learned that in a hospital setting there is no room for such weakness.
“The [work at the] hospital has taught me that it’s okay to ask questions or ask for help,” he said. “The first time I went on a run-along, I had to ask a nurse where I was, and I also took a wrong elevator. Now that I have spent seven months in the hospital, I don’t get lost any more, but there are still plenty of questions to ask and plenty of nurses with answers.”
He added that learning to multi-task, problem-solve and manage time have become unexpected benefits of both his volunteer and service work.
“I think that as a volunteer at the hospital there are many things to do and usually there are not enough people to help,” Christensen said. “With so many tasks, it is more efficient to look around and perhaps complete one task while on your way to complete another.”
Performing work in the patient services office, his responsibilities included discharging patients in wheelchairs, transporting patients to have tests taken, organizing paperwork and mailings for the hospital, and delivering charts and other papers to nursing stations. The hours he works and the tasks he performs will go on his resume, and the volunteer coordinator may serve as a reference.
“I believe that I have helped Springfield Regional with an attitude that promotes learning and trying to do my best and do it right the first time,” Christensen said. “It is very easy to get such an attitude while working with so many great people in the volunteer office. They all have the same value of hard work and they pass it to others without knowing.”
Christensen continues to plan ahead, preparing for graduation in May 2011 by completing an internship with an orthopedic surgeon last summer while preparing medical school applications. On campus, Christensen has participated in a program that trains and socializes service dogs for 4 Paws for Ability, a service dog placement agency in nearby Xenia. He can often be seen around campus with his dog, Rupee, a golden-doodle that is being trained to assist a young child in the future.
Despite his extensive classroom and volunteer commitments, Christensen is a three-year letterwinner with the Tiger men’s lacrosse team. He is making a significant impact there as well, helping the Tigers to their first-ever North Coast Athletic Conference championship in 2010.
Written By: Phyllis Eberts