Rising Together: Britany’s Story

Britany DeBernardo, RN

One of the symptoms of the COVID-19 pandemic was the stress placed on the workforce, especially in healthcare. A 2021 survey conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that 1/3 of surveyed physicians and nurses planned to reduce work hours within a year, and approximately 40% of nurses planned to leave their current jobs within two years as a result of stress, burnout and heavy workload.

New London Hospital (NLH) was not immune from the shortages of available physicians and nurses. While staffing levels at NLH have improved this past year, the main focus during the challenging times had to shift toward employee retention and making sure the needs of the current staff were being addressed.

In June of 2019, Britany DeBernardo, RN, joined the NLH team on the inpatient floor. Her passion for caring for others burned bright, however, the weight of the pandemic had begun to bear down heavily on her shoulders, threatening to extinguish that flame.

“Each day felt like a battle against an invisible enemy,” said Britany. “Around the time the pandemic escalated, I found myself questioning whether the chaos and uncertainty would ever subside. The relentless demands of my role as a registered nurse, coupled with the responsibilities of raising a family, had begun to take their toll. I felt stretched thin, my energy depleted and my spirit weary.” Britany, like many other nurses during this time, contemplated walking away from the profession. 

Britany with Greg Saplagio, RN,
a recent participant in the NLH
nurse residency program

Recognizing a change was needed in order to better address the challenges facing the nursing staff, Nicole Wakeman, RN, nurse manager, NLH Inpatient Services, implemented daily huddles that provided a platform for nurses to voice their concerns and lean on each other for support.

Nicole and leadership also worked directly with Britany to create a schedule that allowed her the time she needed to recharge and reconnect with her family. Slowly, Britany began to find her balance once again. Feeling like the weight of the world no longer resting solely on her shoulders, she rediscovered her passion for nursing, fueled by the knowledge that she was not alone in her struggles. She drew strength from her colleagues and their bond grew stronger with each passing day.  

Today, Britany is still committed to her role at NLH and also shares her passion in another way as a clinical nurse instructor at River Valley Community College in Claremont, NH. 

NLH cares about every individual staff member and is proud of the flexibility and tailored support its managers, like Nicole, exercise in leading their teams. It makes a positive difference in the personal and professional lives of NLH employees, allowing the hospital to retain highly skilled people, including Britany.