Getting Help and Giving Back: A Circle That Makes a Difference

For Robert Christensen, MD, the priorities of getting help—and giving back—go back a long way.

Christensen-Bob-and-Nancy-6-21-16(2)-(2).jpg“As a kid growing up in St. Paul, school didn’t come easy for me,” he remembers. “I had a hard time learning to read. I had dyslexia, but no one called it that back then.”

Christensen didn’t face his challenge alone. “My father was in education and he sat down and worked with me every night. Without his help I wouldn’t have gotten much beyond high school.”

He went way beyond high school, graduating from St. John’s University and the University of Minnesota Medical School. An internship at the University of Oregon and a Mayo Clinic residency were followed by a long and successful career as a general surgeon back home in the Twin Cities.

Retired since 2006, Christensen makes giving back a priority. After years of service with the MMA (including stints as board chair and president) he joined the board of the MMA Foundation, and—along with his wife, Nancy—supports the MMA Foundation. In addition to generous annual support, they have also provided for the foundation in their estate plans.

“Giving helps young students, it makes a positive impact on the communities we serve, and it’s a way for physicians to say thanks. All of those are great things.”

“I was privileged to practice in Minnesota,” he says. “I give back to express my appreciation and to help young students enjoy a similar experience.

He sees that help as vital for the next generation of young doctors.

“Today’s med students face big challenges. The education we received was cheaper and the loans we had to repay were proportionally smaller. The MMA Foundation provides scholarships that help, especially for students from diverse backgrounds.”

Supporting the Foundation is an excellent way for doctors to give back and make a difference, he says.

“Giving helps young students, it makes a positive impact on the communities we serve, and it’s a way for physicians to say thanks,” Christensen says. “All of those are great things.”

Christensen is now happily enjoying “the good life,” he says. Grandkids, golf, travel. And one other thing. He drives regularly over to Christo Rey High School and helps challenged students learn to read. “I remember what that did for me. I’m happy to give back.”

For more information on how you can support the work of the Minnesota Medical Association Foundation through a bequest, visit the MMA Foundation’s Charitable Bequests web page. Thank you!
Story by Steve Harris