Amy Buckingham

Amy Buckingham
Episode 93

Join host, Japhet De Oliveira, as he sits down with Amy Buckingham, Associate Patient Care Executive at Adventist Health Howard Memorial, as they delve into Amy's remarkable journey from an Indian reservation upbringing to her impactful healthcare career, highlighting resilience and compassion.
Libsyn Podcast
"Being above ground is a reason to be grateful and to strive for success in all aspects of life."

Narrator: Welcome friends to another episode of The Story & Experience podcast. Join your host, Japhet de Oliveira with his guest today and discover the moments that shape us, our families and communities.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, welcome friends to another Story & Experience podcast. I am excited about our guest for the tremendous amount of energy and joy that this person has and you will see as we go through this conversation. If you're brand new to the podcast, we have a hundred questions. These are questions that shape you into the leader that you are today, and they give the guests the opportunity between one and a hundred as they get more vulnerable, to be able to share stories that made them who they are today. So, I'm going to dive straight in. I'm going to begin with, could you share your name and does anybody ever mispronounce it or have any issues with it?

Amy Buckingham: So, my name is Amy Buckingham, and no, it's pretty hard to mispronounce a name like Amy Buckingham.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's great, Amy. That's so true. So true. And I think in London they would appreciate it as well, so it's good. It's all good. Right Amy, what do you do for work?

Amy Buckingham: I am the associate patient care executive for Adventist Health, Howard Memorial.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, that's great. That's great.

Amy Buckingham: It's a fancy title, huh?

Japhet De Oliveira: It is a fancy ... So tell me, unpack that. What does that mean?

Amy Buckingham: So unpacking it simply would be director of all nursing.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay. All right, all right. And I presume that you've been in nursing?

Amy Buckingham: I have. I'm a nurse, yes. Emergency background. I've been a nurse for 15 years. The majority of that has been as the emergency services director. I adore patient care, so I do a lot of patient care or have done, I get to just play around now.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes. That's really good. Amy, I'm glad for you. All right. This morning when you woke up, what was your drink of the day? Did you begin with? Coffee, tea, water, liquid green smoothie.

Amy Buckingham: Diet Cherry Pepsi. Next.

Japhet De Oliveira: I wish you guys could see Amy. She's rocking back in her chair with laughter. Right, all right. Hey, I must say, good for you, but I don't know if I can say that authentically.

Amy Buckingham: Yeah. Diet Cherry Pepsi, every morning. I make it to the refrigerator somehow, crack it open. First sip, I'm good to go.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. All right. I've got to ask you, have you ever tried those Nitro Pepsis?

Amy Buckingham: No.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay, all right.

Amy Buckingham: I'm hooked on the Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi. All the way.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, Amy. All right. Now tell me, Amy, where were you born?

Amy Buckingham: Oh, Santa Rosa, California.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, awesome. And when you were a child ... Did you grow up there?

Amy Buckingham: No, I grew up, born ... or not born on the reservation, but raised on an Indian reservation about an hour north of Willetts.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay. All right, awesome. So now, when you were as a child growing up in this reservation, what did you imagine you would grow up to be?

Amy Buckingham: Well, I was hoping I wouldn't be in prison, so anything ... No, I'm just kidding.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, good.

Amy Buckingham: Reservations are hard, right?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Amy Buckingham: No, what did I think I'd grow up to be? I thought maybe I might be a veterinarian because we had a very large cattle ranch and I was always helping my dad fix all the animals, pull the calves, sew up the horses, all kinds of stuff. So, I could see myself potentially doing something like that. But honestly, my heart and soul was in fast pitch softball, and so I originally went to college to play fast pitch softball.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's amazing. I was not expecting that. And that's what I love about where these could go because you just learn something interesting every time. Hey, that's really good. That's really good. All right. Now, personality. Amy shocker here. If people described you as an introvert or an extrovert, what would they say? And would you agree?

Amy Buckingham: I'm not sure. I think I'm a little bit of both. I'm happy in both of those spaces. I think they would say, "She's pretty spicy and goes along with the flow." I'm good by myself, I'm good in a crowd.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's fantastic.

Amy Buckingham: Comfortable both ways. Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, that's pretty good. All right. Habits now. Are you an early riser or late night owl?

Amy Buckingham: Early riser.

Japhet De Oliveira: And by early, what's that mean?

Amy Buckingham: Oh, by 5:00, I'm usually on the treadmill. After I take a drink of my Diet Cherry Pepsi, yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Good for you. Good for you. This morning, first thing went through your mind. What's the first thing that went through this morning?

Amy Buckingham: How can I help today?

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's really good. That's good. And then here's the last question before I open the floor to you to pick numbers between 11 and 100, but it's a leadership question. Are you a backseat driver?

Amy Buckingham: You know, I do like to let them take the wheel. I very much love servant leadership. I am definitely power with, not power over. And I'm okay grabbing the wheel when I see we're headed for the cliff. But I do really, really like to give people the autonomy to work through and navigate through some of these difficult decisions and be there as a guiding light to help them.

Somebody put it to me like this. Just imagine that we're holding seeds and we keep planting seeds in the ground and our people are the plants, and we ... Like a tomato plant, you can put a cage around it, you can give them some guardrails and instruction, et cetera, and the branches are going to sneak out of the tomato cage. And sometimes they go back in, sometimes they go wild and crazy. But the point is, is that we help them plant that seed. How they grow is up to them. And so, I always try to remember that because it's analogy that really sticks with me, for some reason.

Japhet De Oliveira: I like it. That's a good one. That's good. It's good to think in that way. That's fantastic. All right, so the floor is open, Amy. 11 to 100, where would you like to go?

Amy Buckingham: Start at a hundred and let's just work our way down. Let's just do this.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. All right. All right, here we go. So question 100, Amy, tell us about one question that you don't want to answer.

Amy Buckingham: Painful memories.

Japhet De Oliveira: That would be hard.

Amy Buckingham: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, yeah, that's fair. And I think that there are spaces and times to be able to do that, but they are hard.

Amy Buckingham: Yeah, for sure. I think sometimes unpacking them once you have packed them in is really difficult and you unpack them at the right moments and then you treasure them in the same time and you're thankful for them because it is what helped shape you.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's true.

Amy Buckingham: But that's always one question that I always dread. I'm a very transparent person, so-

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes, you are.

Amy Buckingham: ... if you want to unpack it, we can unpack it, but painful memories would be top.

Japhet De Oliveira: I'll let you decide as you go through the other questions, how you decide you want to unpack it. Is that good?

Amy Buckingham: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. That honors the conversation space and-

Amy Buckingham: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: ... yeah, all right. So, that was 100. Where would you like to go next?

Amy Buckingham: Just keep going down, 99.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay. All right then, 99. What is the most difficult truth you've ever had to have said?

Amy Buckingham: I think you'd have to ask me ... This is varied by depending on where I've been in my life. I think right now, the most difficult truth ... what's still hard for me sometimes is telling a family member, delivering devastating diagnoseses, or helping them through the truth of that. Anytime we lose any kind of patients, or children, or anything like that, just having to remind them of the truth of the moment that they're in that space at that given time, that never feels good and is always very, very difficult. It's hard seeing people hurt so much and you not hurt with them.

Japhet De Oliveira: So, this is a 99A, it's a subset of this, but I've got to ask you, is there someone who has helped you, or modeled for you, or shown you how to do these things that are so difficult? Or did you pick this up some other way?

Amy Buckingham: I think that every nurse in their career can tell you what their first death experience was and how that went for them, because that's an unknown in nursing. You don't know how you're going to react and you're always asking yourself, am I going to be okay? How am I going to handle this?

My first death experience as a nurse, I was so blessed to have an amazing physician help guide me through that. Maybe it helped, maybe it didn't. The family members were very, very, very anxious about the process, so I had to repeat myself over and over and I say, maybe that helped me, maybe it didn't because I had to go through that with the family almost daily until the loved one passed away. But just hearing the physician stay calm, be present, really be supportive with the family, help to mentor the expectation, and it was safe enough for me to ask, "What will I see? How will I know?" And him just put his hand on my shoulder and say, "It's okay, you'll know."

So, he really modeled that behavior for me and I think really shaped that experience. I did know. How do you know how to be a mother or a father? You just know. And it was the same situation. So yeah, we just knew and just tried to stay present in the moment, have a credible amount of compassion and empathy to what the family was going through and just be there.

Japhet De Oliveira: Amy, thank you so much for that. That's really good. Really good. All right. Literally you want to go next to 98?

Amy Buckingham: 98, bring it on.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. What is one great thing that you are capable of achieving?

Amy Buckingham: Everything.

Japhet De Oliveira: Although one great thing would be nice, rather than everything. I do love that you believe that as well. And that's actually really important [inaudible].

Amy Buckingham: I'm going to be a little bit vulnerable and tell you, I went to the school of hard knocks. And when I say that, to put this in context for you, I did not read a book, write a paper. I knew how to do basic math, but school on the reservation was very different. I don't know if we had the same standards. It doesn't feel like we did. So, going into college, my entrance exam into college, you can imagine what that looked like. I remember getting called in, they wanted me to be in English as a second language, and they said, "What other language do you know?" I said, "I don't know any other language."

So, it was very clear that I was going to need extensive tutoring and help to get through. That, I would say was hurdle number one. Letting my guard down and actually acknowledging that I needed help. And I started climbing that education mountain. I'm a first generation college graduate, college student. I decided to then get my bachelor's degree and then master's degree and now I'm in a doctorate program.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's amazing.

Amy Buckingham: So, when somebody asks what can you do? The answer is everything because we are stopping ourselves. So, get out of your own way and do it.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. I think we're just going to change this podcast to a motivational ... One of those, we should call it the goalcast, right? You've seen those little videos? Hey Amy, that's really encouraging for anybody who's struggling out there. I mean, you think about it, if you're a young person, you're struggling with education and thinking ... I like how you called it a mountain, not a ladder. Yeah, yeah, that's good.

Amy Buckingham: Slow and steady. I was a single mom, I had no money. Trust me, you can do it. Get out of your own way.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, all right. Good for you. Well done. Well done. All right. Well, here we go. 97, tell us about a time when you did the right thing.

Amy Buckingham: Well, I always think that I try to do the right thing, but I think that's different in different settings, in different contexts. I feel like I have a very strong moral compass. But in regards to a patient care setting, I was so thankful and blessed to have been working as the triage nurse one day in the emergency room. I came across this beautiful young patient who, it was her fourth emergency room visit, and she was scared to death. Really needed somebody to hear her, really needed somebody to advocate for her. And I did just that.

And sometimes you have to push hard, sometimes you have to advocate a little harder, get the right things done. But we did. We got all the right things done. We found a fairly devastating diagnosis for her that she was able to overcome. But it did take an extensive hospital stay and rehab stay. But just being there, just hearing her, just being able to reassure her and her family, that always feels good when you walk out of there and you're like, "They're in the aircraft because I worked so hard." They're still alive maybe, because you worked so hard.

Yeah, it's the times when you throw in all your efforts and the outcome is the same or not desirable, where you're ... It's tough to walk out these doors sometimes. So yeah, when you get to do the right thing and it works. It's a great [inaudible] to walk out the door.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's beautiful. That's beautiful. Thank you so much. Wow, that's inspiring as well, as well. All right. Hey, 96, you're still happy just to continue? Okay.

Amy Buckingham: Just bring it on.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, all right. All right, Amy, if you wouldn't mind, tell us about the last time that you cried.

Amy Buckingham: Well, it makes me emotional thinking about it. My grandfather is this amazing warrior of a man. He is still alive, I'll start there. He does have some dementia, but he, no matter what, will always recognize my son. My son is 26, he is a nurse, but my grandpa had a STEMI a few months ago and we were starting to prepare my grandma and somehow this amazing warrior of a man managed to pull through this STEMI without any intervention. And just watching my son with him and realizing what an impact he's made for my son. I think in those moments, you do stop and say, "Oh, I did good. I raised a good egg." But just watching that connection, it's hard when you see your kids hurt.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes, always.

Amy Buckingham: My grandpa, of course, was not hurting. He was like, "Woo hoo, morphine." Yeah, seeing that, so yeah. Okay, we got that one out of the way.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, that's good. That's good. Hey, that's beautiful. Those are beautiful and treasured and special moments. Yeah, I love that. All right, 95. Amy, tell us about how you see your own faith and life intersecting.

Amy Buckingham: Well, my faith is a little different. I don't really know what to call it. I can give you an example. Growing up on an Indian reservation, things are different. And I don't think that you appreciate that until you're outside of that environment and you see this whole new wide world that you've never been exposed to.

So, I can distinctly remember, my family has cattle, and I don't know if this is really a thing or if this is just my dad's thing, but we would have to get up at three, four o'clock in the morning and get on horseback and we'd go out, we'd round up the cattle. And we'd be driving them to one pasture, another, just checking the cows, checking for the new babies, et cetera.

I'm on my horse and we're headed out miles and miles. There's no cows around us where we're at, it's pitch ... it's dark. I am literally falling asleep to the rhythm of my horse. [inaudible] a teenager at this point in time. I remember the valley being flat and green and the mountains surrounding us and the sun just starting to peek up over the mountains. And my dad stops and he says, "You see? This is our church."

And he had never talked about anything like that ever before. And I said, "What do you mean? What do you mean by that?" And he's like, "Look around you. Open your eyes. This is our church. This is where we belong. We can influence people. You have that ability. Treat people, treat people kindly. Your word is your word, and don't ever break your word. Don't lie." He has a hard time forgiving. So he never brought up the forgiveness piece, but we're working on that stuff. Yeah, I mean, I think that that's how I try to live my life. All of this is our church. We get to be the best version of us in it. So, not just within a wall, but everywhere.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes, I know, I hear you. Hey, that's fantastic. All right, if you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Amy Buckingham: Oh, pain and suffering. That's what I would change. Take that business away.

Japhet De Oliveira: I know, I know. That would be good. All right. I mean, you've kind of already done this, but paint us a picture of what success could look like.

Amy Buckingham: What does success look like? For me personally, or in general, for the organization?

Japhet De Oliveira: I don't mind. I don't mind where you want to go with that.

Amy Buckingham: For the organization, success looks like an organization of absolute high reliability, the best quality and safety delivered to patients daily. Beds are full, rooms are full, nurses are thriving, doctors are thriving, everyone's happy. That success, that's what success looks like for me within the organization personally. Just keep reaching the goals. Just keep doing the thing and just keep being me, I guess. I don't know, right?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Just out of curiosity, how long are you in this doctoral program? Do you have two years ahead, three years, or ...

Amy Buckingham: No one has really given me a timeframe, a good way to judge the time with that. So, I'm not sure. I think it's all dependent on the project that I pick and how long it would take for implementation of that project. And then seeing that project through the different phases.

Japhet De Oliveira: Well, we'll look forward to celebrating that when that happens.

Amy Buckingham: Yeah, heck yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, absolutely. All right, Amy, how would you like to be remembered?

Amy Buckingham: That I was a safe place for others and people trusted me and they would walk through fire with me because they would know that I would have their back. They look to me for guidance as a source of truth. They would know that I wouldn't let them fail and I hold them higher than I hold myself.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good.

Amy Buckingham: I hope that's how people would say.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, no, that's great. That's great. Well, I think it speaks into how you want to be remembered, speaks into how you actually live. And thinking about that, it's just a good reminder of what is our purpose ultimately. So, that's good. All right. If you wouldn't mind, describe a time in your life when you learned about forgiveness.

Amy Buckingham: Oh, my gosh. Well, I mentioned that my dad is not good at this. So, I will say that I definitely inherited that. Boy, I had a bit of a rough start. The person who I call my dad adopted my sister and I. My sperm donor, I don't know if I could say that, but that's essentially what he has brought to my life, was creating me, and that's about it. He was a very mean person. I think sometimes when people divorce, the oldest child tends to take the hit of that. So, that's essentially what happened in my situation. And that led to a cascade of me not necessarily being able to identify the right people that I should have in my life or invest my time in.

So, have I learned to forgive my biological father? I'm not sure yet. Have I learned to forgive some other people that have done some really bad things to me? I'm not sure yet. I can tell you, I've come to peace with it and I have unpacked it to the best of my ability. But in order to forgive, I think you have to forgive with all of you, with all of your heart. I don't think that those memories, I'll ever be able to let go of. And so, when I give to a person, I give all of me, and that's in all of my relationships, you are going to get 100% of me. And I think when those relationships, when they are damaged and destroyed to that level, it's really hard to give 100% of you back. So, I don't know. I don't think I did a very good job answering that question.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, I actually think ... I think I know in part where you're going. I think there's a lot of wisdom in this because forgiveness is not easy.

Amy Buckingham: No,

Japhet De Oliveira: For anyone.

Amy Buckingham: No.

Japhet De Oliveira: And there is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation and trust. And I think sometimes we tie all those together as forgiveness and then it causes forgiveness to be in a really complicated place. And so, yeah, I really do appreciate that. Everything takes time and it's the right time as well. And some is not necessary, but some of it's really good, so I appreciate that a lot. Hey, we have time for one more, so I'm going to go to the last one here. And you have been answering this question through all of them, but ... So, here it is. Tell us about how you've overcome a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

Amy Buckingham: Yeah, I mean, I think there's been multiple points in my life where I probably should not be here talking to you, and I am here. I like to remind myself of that. I like to remind other people of that. When you are just having the worst, worst day, you are above ground. There is always something that is going well that day.

I like to remind people that when you say, "Hey, good morning," you get this ... It's, "Yay, we're above ground." And it changes your perspective a little tiny bit. But speaking from somebody who, yeah, probably should not be here and the cards were stacked a little bit against, I'm above ground and I'm so grateful for that.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes, you are. Amy, it has been an absolute incredible honor and privilege to have this conversation, you've been ... Like I said, we should just call this a goalcast podcast for people just like, "Hey, you're above ground. You can do this." So hey, Amy, thank you. Thank you for that. For those who are listening, you have so much inspiration. For those of you listening, do the same. Meet with a friend, connect with them, listen to their stories. As I'm changed today, you'll be changed as well. So, God bless everybody. Amy, again, thank you so much.

Amy Buckingham: You're welcome.

Narrator: Thank you for joining us for The Story & Experience podcast. We invite you to read, watch, and submit your story and experience at The Story & Experience podcast was brought to you by Adventist Health through the Office of Culture.