Briefly describe your daily job duties.
I work in the flow cytometry and DNA sections of Ochsner Health’s Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) Lab. I assist with preliminary workups for those in need of an organ transplant, as well as, potential donors.
In the flow section, I test to see if there is a reaction between the antigens of a potential donor versus the antigens of a potential recipient, in order to reduce organ rejection. I also test to see if there is a reaction between the patient’s antibodies vs the patient’s antigens, in order to identify auto immune disorders.
In the DNA section, I isolate and test donor and recipient DNA to identify their HLA profiles. Other responsibilities include: testing for various diseases (ex. Celiac disease and psoriatic arthritis), quality control of instruments, as well as, reagents, and DNA typing of deceased donors.
As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
Talking on the phone is the most challenging part of my job. Nearly every day I’m on the phone with someone to see where a sample is, confirm a test that we need to run, report results, confirm donor information, and/or confirm patient information.
For the most part, I talk to the same group of people about these issues. By this point, they all know I stutter and it’s a non-issue. However, if I am talking to someone new and I begin to stutter I will disclose that I am a PWS, after the stuttering moment ends.
Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process? If so, how did you do it and how do you currently disclose your stuttering to unsuspecting co-workers?
I disclosed indirectly. On my resume, I listed my book, Dear World, I Stutter, and various published articles, but my stutter did not come up during my interview.
In the past two year and a half years, I’ve become more comfortable with disclosing my stutter. Whenever I meet a new co-worker, I disclose by saying, “You may have noticed that I stutter. All I ask is that you don’t finish my sentences and keep eye contact with me when I stutter. If you have any questions about stuttering, then don’t hesitate to ask me.”
What is your proudest moment at your current company?
Being selected to give a TED talk at Ochsner’s inaugural TEDx event is my proudest moment. Not only is it the proudest of my time at Ochsner, but it’s one of the proudest moments of my life.
What are your long-term career aspirations?
Although I like what I do, I want to transition to the corporate side of Ochsner. My ideal role would be in internal employee development. I would also like expand my writing and public speaking opportunities.
What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
Disclose the fact that you are a person who stutters as soon as possible. Disclosing allows for the “awkwardness” of stuttering to instantly disappear. Also, don’t allow your stutter to hold you back from going for a project, promotion, or a new opportunity.