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Learn, Live, Hope

Tosha Harris, DNP APRN NNP-BC
NANN E-News Editor

I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself as the new editor of the NANN E-News newsletter. I am a neonatal nurse practitioner with Pediatrix Medical Group of Mississippi at North Mississippi Medical Center (NMMC) in Tupelo. I have more than 20 years of experience in the neonatal care setting. My professional interests are education, professional development, and writing and publication.

I've conducted and participated in quality initiative projects, which I've presented at NANN conferences as poster presentations. As a member of the second cohort of NANN's Emerging Leader Fellowship program, I organized and implemented a pilot study focused on improving neonatal sleep in the first hour following delivery. I was honored to be a guest speaker at the APRN summit of the 35th Annual NANN conference. I am the co-author of the "Thermoregulation" chapter of the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Certification Intensive Review: Fast Facts and Practice Questions.

My future endeavors will explore allostasis/allostatic load, toxic stress, and trauma-informed, age-appropriate care in the neonatal population. Trauma-informed care seeks to minimize the lasting effects of toxic stress by providing the infant with a safe, nurturing, and, most importantly, neuroprotective environment. The improvement of the smallest and sickest infants' neurodevelopmental outcomes can have lasting effects not only on their lives but also on their families and society. As a volunteer faculty member at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in Memphis, I precept DNP and NNP students during their clinical experiences and provide guest lectures within courses.

I would like to thank my predecessor, Julie Williams, under whose editorship NANN E-News has consistently provided up-to-date, evidenced-based articles for our neonatal nurses and nurse practitioners. I wish her much success in her new position as director-at-large on NANN's Board.

I cannot express how delighted and appreciative I am for this opportunity to serve my professional organization and my fellow neonatal care providers. As we build on previous editors' excellent work, I am committed to continuing the tradition of disseminating articles that reflect our members' diverse interests. I would like to encourage all writers, both novice and seasoned, to submit articles for the newsletter.

I write this message to you on December 31. In a few hours, a new day will begin, and with it, a new year. The best of imaginations could never have been able to conjure up the events that have taken place during the past 12 months. Whether for the good or for the bad, our lives will be forever changed because of it.

Since January 21, 2020, as of the time of this writing, 20,346,372 Americans have contracted COVID-19, with 349,246 having died because of the virus (Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2021). COVID-19 has mentally, emotionally, socially, and economically devastated our lives and the world.

Since the pandemic began, life has been unexpectedly hard and, at times, relentless. But we can find, if we look back, sprinkled amongst the countless stories of tragedy and pain, accounts of love, compassion, empathy, kindness, and simple human decency. It is in these moments that we have found reprieve, some modicum of joy, and, do I dare say, hope. We must actively seek out these moments during these trying times. There is neuroscientific evidence that our brains experience a more significant response to negative stimuli from infancy than positive ones (Hamlin et al., 2010). This self-protective mechanism is used by our brains to help us to prepare for the worst. To counteract this natural tendency, Warrell (2020) recommends these four actions:

  • Commit daily to optimism.
  • Make showing gratitude a habit.
  • Seek out the good.
  • Trust in yourself to handle any challenge that you face.

In a 2010 interview, Sir Desmond Tutu said, "Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness." Without hope, all will for sure be lost.

2020 has also been a year of learning about life, society, and ourselves. This year taught me a few valuable lessons that I carry with me into 2021. It took a pandemic, a nail-biting presidential election, uncomfortable but crucial conversations involving systematic racism, a murder hornet invasion, 13 hurricanes, a Saharan dust cloud, and toilet paper shortages to force me to reflect on and shift my priorities.

I've termed these lessons my Pandemic Epiphanies:

  1. "The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now." – Oprah Winfrey
  2. I can do hard things.
  3. Self-care must be a daily priority.
  4. Stop seeking yourself in others.
  5. Be intentional with your time and energy; use them both only on people and things that will enhance your life.
  6. "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." – Dr. Maya Angelou
  7. Be kind. Everyone is fighting a battle that you know nothing about.
  8. Quality over quantity.
  9. "Comparison is the thief of joy." – President Theodore Roosevelt
  10. The idea of having too much toilet paper is immensely flawed.

If you have not done so, I encourage you to reflect on what has happened in your life in 2020. What revelations about yourself and others have you experienced? What effect will they have on your outlook and actions in 2021?

In the time that it has taken me to write this, it is now 2021. A new day has begun. May the challenges of yesterday be a reminder of your strength and the uncertainty of tomorrow be the motivation to live your best life today. Stay safe, socially distance, and don't lose hope.

Happy new year!


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). CDC COVID data tracker. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  2. Hamlin, J.K., Wynn, K., & Bloom, P. (2010). Three-month-olds show a negativity bias in their social evaluations. Developmental Science, 13(6), 923-929. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2010.00951.x
  3. Warrell, M. (2020). Hope is a risk that must be run— particularly in our darkest days. Forbes.

Please note: The information presented and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses. Any clinical or technical recommendations made by the authors must be weighed against the health care provider's own judgment and the accepted guidelines published on the subject.

Check out NANN's COVID-19 webpage for more resources