How one RN is finding inspiration on the frontlines of the Coronavirus battle.
For registered nurses like Andrea Bingham, finding hope in difficult situations has been her priority since beginning her RN career in 2018.
As a member of her hospital’s chemotherapy team, Andrea works with children undergoing cancer treatment. She works in a field where her warm smile and compassion are as vital as the life-saving treatments she administers to her patients.
According to Andrea, she chose to enter her current field because she “loves children and wants to help them feel better and fight cancer like the little warriors they are.”
Amid the Coronavirus outbreak, maintaining a high morale and positive spirit amongst her patients and teammates can be challenging. This can be especially difficult when working with younger patients.
COVID-19 can pose a greater risk for people undergoing chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. For patients and medical staff, it’s easy to let fear and anxiety creep in.
Through it all, however, Andrea has persevered—continuing to support the physical and emotional wellbeing of her young patients, despite the chaos and disruption of the current pandemic.
These are just a reasons why we’ve chosen to feature Andrea Bingham as one of our honored Heroes in Healthcare.
Registered Nurse in Salt Lake City,UT
2018 Graduate – Provo College
What are the typical responsibilities for someone in your position?
I administer chemotherapy medications for patients undergoing cancer treatment. Part of that includes watching for side effects as well as administering blood products if needed. That means giving antiemetics so they don’t have to throw up, or pain medications if needed. But a big part of my job is to just be there for them if they need a happy, smiling face to help them get through the day’s treatment.
With that in mind, what does a typical day look like for you?
Well, I get to work and wash hands, of course. Then I get my report from the nurse I’m taking over for so I know everything that’s been done and everything still to do.
My first interaction with the patients comes soon after that. I visit the rooms of the kiddos and trace lines, check their central line, and check their dressing.
Once I’m caught up, I sit and plan out my day and go over any chemotherapy orders and drugs that may need to be given. Around eight, I go in the rooms and give medications and make my general assessments of the kiddos. Depending on my shift, I will usually let them get ready for bed or wait for the medical team to come around and get any updates to the plan of care.
After that, I just make sure all medications and tasks get completed during my shift, then prepare my report to the nurse taking over for me.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed that routine?
Keeping our immune compromised kids safe has become a top priority and impacts everything we do. We’ve created a separate area for all our kids that are suspected to have COVID-19 so that they are far away from our other kids. Once they have been cleared (test negative), they are moved to another room to help protect them.
We’re also more alert as to who is on our unit, and until our official face shields arrive, we’ve started to wear masks and goggles.
We also spend a lot of the day cleaning.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
We have to adapt as we learn more about the virus, so the biggest challenge would probably be the constant changes that happen every day.
Where do you find the inspiration to endure this difficult period?
My strength and inspiration comes from knowing that everything is going to work out, and I genuinely believe that it will. Each of us is going to come out of this a different person, and hopefully part of that is being more aware of how to protect ourselves from other infections in the future.
And then of course there are my amazing patients, their parents, my co-workers… honestly the list goes on and on!
The stress must be overwhelming at times. How do you find balance? What do you do to maintain your composure during stressful moments at work?
It’s a mindset. I just have to remember it’s not about me, it’s about my patient and doing what I can for them in the best and safest way possible.
After my shifts or an event is over is when my emotions tend to come out and I let myself cry. But it’s healthy to cry after a hard shift. I allow myself 15 minutes and then I drive home.
Any words of advice or inspiration you’d like to share with other healthcare workers who may be coping with similar challenges?
I’d say to just take it one day at a time. Things will get hard before they get better. Lean on your co-workers and your management team.
And remember to take breaks and allow yourself to feel everything… but don’t let it control you.
Stay strong, we will get through this!
There are thousands of men and women still studying to become nurses while watching all of this unfold. What would you say to them to help encourage them to continue?
Remember your why. There are going to be times ahead when you have shifts that are so crazy, and then you will have some that are easy and laid back. Cherish each and learn from them.
One of the best things I learned while I was a student was the incredible benefits of teamwork and how to handle disasters, so take advantage of this opportunity to learn and absorb experience.
And don’t go it alone. Reach out and talk to others. Don’t hold it all in when you really need to get it all out.
What about our non-medical readers? Any words of advice for them?
I’d encourage them to listen to those around them, especially healthcare workers and experts. Remember to take care of yourself and make sure you are taking care of others where safe and appropriate.
Thank you to Andrea for sharing her story and insights as she continues to treat and encourage her patients. We greatly appreciate all that she and so many other health care professionals like her are doing, day in and day out, to keep our hospitals and clinics running despite the global pandemic.
We’re proud of you, Andrea! Keep up the good work!