Words of Wisdom and Inspiration from a HealthWorks Graduate


Earlier this week, JVS graduated a group of 15 Certified Nurse Assistant trainees from its HealthWorks™ program. These men and women were all excellent students and show great promise as they start their career in the medical profession.

The graduation featured a speech by a woman who went through JVS HealthWorks in 2011 and who subsequently became a CNA first at Marina Care Center and then subsequently moved to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Her speech Wednesday was extremely powerful and had about half the audience reaching for tissues. We think that much of her advice applies not just to working as a CNA, but to general life issues as well.

Felicia will be recognized with the JVS Inspiration Award at the 17th Annual Strictly Business L.A. Award in May. After you read the speech below, you'll understand why.


Felicia Cates: Good morning. It’s my pleasure to be here this morning. Congratulations to this wonderful class. Not too long ago, I just finished HealthWorks and I went on to work. I faced many challenges going through the class and doubting myself and I hope you all realize you made it his far. There’s a lot of people who didn’t make it to where you sit today. And I hope you appreciate that and take that with you and remember when you have those hard days at work, don’t let anybody take your smile, but remember what you’ve already overcome.

I graduated in January, but I didn’t take a job until October for many different reasons. I let doubt set in and I started wondering, ‘Could I do this?’ for many different reasons. I wondered, ‘Who wanted a fat nurse to take care of them?’ Anything that could have kept me down. Some places I went to, and I just knew this isn’t the place for me because I want to work with someone with integrity who takes care of their patients.

And I just ask that you remember that those patients are your mom, and your aunts. They’re your family. I don’t have my own family. I haven’t since a very young age, but those patients have truly become my family.

I worked two years in a convalescent home. I think you may know Marina Care. I worked there for two years and I loved it. I loved my patients.

Don’t judge yourself by what you see other CNAs do. You don’t always want to copy what other people do. You take the lessons, the good things from each individual person and let that be who you become. Don’t judge yourself because another CNA moves faster than you. You may just find that your slowness is just what the patients need.

I used to wonder, ‘Am I made for this, to be with someone dying of cancer. Do I want to see that?” Today I know I’m just the person for that. I need to be there. I need to hold that hand. You don’t know how many hospital rooms you’ll be in and there will be no family there. You don’t have to say anything. Some of those patients may not understand what you say, but they understand the love that flows from hand to hand. They do, and they appreciate it and they tell me all the time. I told you I worked at Marina Care  for two years. I’m not there anymore because I took a chance of a lifetime, and I got a job at Cedars-Sinai, and I’m very proud to be there. I’m proud of being a part of JVS and I’m thankful for all you wonderful donors who give people a chance, who invest in strangers you don’t even know.  Thank you. Because my life has been changed. I can now provide for my family and be confident and know that we’re OK. I hope to always make JVS proud that they invested in me, and I hope that you always make them proud as well as yourselves.

Don’t let doubts set in. Take each others' numbers today, and when you get on that job and you have those tough days, you call each other and you encourage each other. Don’t give up. I’ve had many of my past classmates call me and ask me what to do. Whatever you do, don’t walk off the job. Don’t let anyone steal your joy. Don’t let anyone steal your joy.

Don’t focus on what your co-workers say. You focus on your patients and give them the best care you can give because the patient’s voice is the voice that matters. Treat al of your patients, even when they’re being difficult, even though some will fight you while you try to give them the care that they need. Treat them all like very important clients with the highest paying dollar. Don’t let money motivate you because you feel, ‘Oh they don’t pay you enough.’ Every job you’re going to feel like that. But the love that the patients repay you and that the family will show you, that’s beyond any dollar that I can earn at any job. And while I’m proud to work at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, for the company that I feel like is the greatest company ever, I’m most proud of being with my patients.

Don’t become confused. Be careful of the crowd that you keep and congratulations again, and I hope to hear from you all and hear many great stories. And don’t forget to reach back and tell JVS thank you. Because while I finished my obligation to JVS a long time ago, when I got to Cedars, I let them know I’m here and thank you.

Have a good day.