National Stuttering Association

Brittany DahlAcute Care Nurse Practitioner

    Brittany Dahl

    Lexington, KY
    Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
    University of Kentucky Hospital

    Briefly describe your daily job duties.
    Treating and caring for critically ill patients in the intensive care units at UK Hospital.

    As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
    Speaking to a variety of people every day unsure of their experiences with a person who stutters. The mental exhaustion of stuttering in a very stressful working environment.

    What are your long-term career aspirations?
    I am a Mom of two little girls 5 years old and younger, and the time demands of my current position can be difficult for work-life balance. Moving towards a position with more “regular hours” in the future is my priority at this time.

    Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process?
    I did not self-disclose in the hiring process. I guess at that time, now 11 years ago, I considered myself a “convert stutterer”. Throughout my life I had only heard a handful of individuals disclose. I didn’t personally know anyone who stuttered until I was at least 28 years old. The benefits of disclosing are wonderful for mental psyche. I am still new to it, but there are days where I am experiencing A LOT of struggle and embracing “saying what I what to say”. A disclosure to my attendings or coworkers before rounds, “I am a person who stutters. If any information needs to be clarified, let me know”. I am still struggling with a brief disclosure to the less formal conversations. Like the snickers from people in causal interactions, or the “looks” when people hear an interruption in fluency.

    What is your proudest moment at your current company?
    During my 11 year career as a nurse, I have been a clinical instructor, co-director of APP fellowship and assistant professor for pathophysiology. When I see former students or trainees who have chosen to work in the intensive care setting or who are thriving in their current careers, I am proud to be a part of their journey.

    Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
    When speaking to family members about critical, life or death topics, a brief disclosure I feel shows empathy and vulnerability. I am sharing something personal about myself, let me help you through one of the worst times in your life. I am excellent listener and I am very observant, both are key to providing holistic care to my patients.

    What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
    As a person who stutters, remember your best attribute is resiliency. You can do anything. I have helped in research publications and even written a book chapter. I never imagined a little girl who stutters from a small town in Kentucky would ever have this amount of career success at the age of 32. Again, you can do anything. Keep pushing through the laughs, the snickers and “the looks”. The years of my shame lead to anxiety and depression. Through therapy, medication and the support of my family, I made the decision to start speech therapy at the age of 31 and start to accept my stutter. Keep learning and evolving to slowly accept your voice, your unique communication.