LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — High burnout rates among nurses during the pandemic led to our country losing more than one hundred thousand nurses within one year, 2021. That’s a far greater drop than seen over the past four decades. 

New research showed what kind of changes need to happen to help our nurses well-being, post COVID. 

Robin Wuebbenhorst is a labor and delivery nurse in Southern Nevada, with 12 years of experience in a career that she loves.  

“It’s an amazing opportunity for any man or woman, it gives you so much flexibility where you are not working five days a week, you’re working three days a week in a hospital,” said Wuebbenhorst. 

But her profession during the COVID pandemic would place her in situations with excessive on-the-job stress, well-founded fears of becoming infected, and profound grief over seeing patients pass away from COVID 19.  

“During the pandemic, it was so incredibly scary taking care of some of these patients,” said Wuebbenhorst, “it was such a horrific fear on the staff’s point of view because things were changing on such a rapid daily basis.” 

She said she felt plagued by guilt when the mass-sick calls started coming in, and torn by her own personal exhaustion and not wanting to let the community down.  

“I think everyone is just scared, what if it happens again, what if there is another pandemic – hopefully for all of us, this is just a once-in-a-lifetime situation.” 

“There are problems in the system,” said Michelle Larkin, an associate executive Vice President at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  

Problems that Larkin said were exacerbated during the covid pandemic.  

“Physical abuse, bullying, staffing ratios that don’t allow nurses to provide safe care based on the complexities of cases they are caring for.”  

Larkin has been tackling our nation’s toughest health care problems, with her role at the Robert Wood Johnson foundation. 

For various reasons during the pandemic, our country lost more than one hundred thousand nurses. 

Now, the foundation said there are key steps to refilling those roles including taking care of nurses’ health and well-being.  

“Some of the things that are showing up in the report around employers, is that they can design mechanisms for nurses to be able to report unsafe working conditions,” said Larkin.  

Encouraging a culture of safety, which Wuebbenhorst said starts with making yourself a priority.     

“A nurse really needs to cultivate herself as far as mental health and physical health,” Wuebbenhorst said. “You have to take care of yourself, in order to take care of your patients.” 

You can find the full report on nursing by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at this link.