Katie Cochran is a Registered Nurse living in Vancouver who works in pediatrics and has a passion for person- and family-centred care. She is a mother to a vibrant 15-month-old who is always keeping her on her toes. Katie wrote this letter to her daughter while reflecting on her learnings about “What Matters To You?”

A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Rory,

Becoming a mother changes you. It makes you look at the world through a new lens; a protective and hopeful lens where everything focuses on you, my daughter. Just as you approach everything in life, you are barreling uninhibited towards your first birthday. As I work towards my Master of Nursing, I think of you often. I think about how I can put my new knowledge into action, to better the future of health care for you and all children growing up in this uncertain time. As you mature, you will hear that the year you were born in was a hard one. Many people suffered, lives were lost, and people were isolated. Personally, it was a year of mixed emotions. There was joy in meeting you, yet I couldn’t introduce you to some of the closest people in my life. This year, I started learning about ”What Matters to You?”.  It changed my outlook on nursing care, gave a name to my personal practice beliefs, and guided and inspired my master’s Program.

I aspire to a future where patients never enter a health care setting without being asked, “What matters to you?”, where patients and family are considered an integral part of the health care team, where a simple phrase, “What matters to you?”, guides patient care. I want you to grow up with a health care system that prides itself on a partnership between patients and providers; where patients and families are valued for the knowledge and experience that they bring to the team.

Rory, our health care system is full of wonderful people who entered this field to help others, going above and beyond on a daily basis to make sure the needs of others are met. They encourage mothers giving birth, they gently x-ray a child’s limb when they fall off the monkey bars and they care for our loved ones in their final days. It only seems right that we arm these professionals with the tools they need to consistently provide the best and safest care possible. I want your health care providers to be given the support to not only ask what matters but to listen and then do what matters.

It is my pledge to you, to do all I can to help positively shape the future of health care. In the coming years, through my work and for my final master’s project, we will be asking patients and families what matters to them. I will be collaborating with patients and families to find out how and when to ask this question and supporting health care teams in this initiative. As health care providers, we will be asking the question, listening to what our patients and families need, and then doing all we can to help them.

When you read this, I hope “What Matters to You?” is the norm; that you cannot remember a time when we did not practice this way. I hope that the project I have implemented has caught fire and as health care professionals in Canada, and worldwide, we are asking those who matter most, “What matters?” As a mother and a nurse, this is my dream for the future of health care.