Briefly describe your job and daily work duties.
I serve as a staff nurse in a postpartum unit. I care for mothers who just delivered and their babies.
As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
The most challenging part of my job is definitely phone calls. I have to make calls to doctors and other healthcare team members every day. The more I’ve done this, the better I get, but there are some days when this can be exhausting and challenging!
My fellow nurses and doctors are very supportive. I am open to talking about my stutter and my co-workers have asked questions and lend support and encouragement to help me succeed in my position.
How do you self-disclose your stuttering at work?
When I first started on the unit, I introduced myself to as many physicians as I could and asked them to be patient with me if they got a call from me. This was difficult to do and it took a lot of courage. However, I learned when given the chance, most people are very understanding and willing to help. Every doctor I have spoken to has shown me nothing but mutual respect and understanding.
As far as my patients go, I tell every patient and their families, every day, that I stutter. On average, I have 4 babies and 4 mothers to care for each day. I introduce myself in the morning and shortly after I say, “I have a stutter that you will hear when I talk.” I follow up with asking them to let me know if anything I say needs clarification and I can repeat myself if needed. This takes the awkwardness out of the situation and reassures them that I am capable of communicating effectively and can clarify if needed.
Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
It has taken a lifetime for me to make friends with my stutter. I now see it as my teacher. In an odd way, I think it connects me more to my patients as well. Being in the hospital, you are in a very vulnerable position. I feel patients see that I can be vulnerable too, and as a result, it connects us more easily.
What is your proudest moment at your current company?
When working a night shift once, I had a mother who was really struggling with feeding her baby. I worked with them through the night, and the next day I got the sweetest note from her thanking me for helping her make it through the tough night and teaching her how to feed her baby. I still have the note hanging on my calendar at home.
What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
My best advice would be to make friends with your stutter! Use it as a tool to grow and become stronger. Disclose your stutter and do not hide from it. Most people are good people, they want to understand and help. Be open with people and do not be ashamed of who you are! We have so much to offer!