The Real World

some occupations of people who stutter

History, archaeology, teaching, graphic arts.

Lou Heite currently lives in Iceland where she owns a sign shop and graphics studio, and holds down the Iceland end of her wool importing business. She holds a BFA in art history, a MA in American Studies, and a PhD in history. She is a certified member of the Society of Professional Archaeologists. She has worked as a teacher, an archaeologist, a research historian, and a museum exhibit designer, and has been a professional writer on the side for most of her adult years.

Lou says, "To be honest, I can't say that stuttering by itself has had much of an effect on my choice of careers, or my progress. For one thing, I don't have a particularly disruptive stutter, but more important than that, once you get into the world of professionals and all the responsibility that implies, the ability to do the job far outweighs what are essentially unrelated circumstances such as stuttering. Nearly all of my professional colleagues have been both too sensible and too busy to care. Of course, breaking in can be difficult, but it is difficult for everyone. My advice is to go for it. A first-rate senior thesis, a good grade in an internship project, or a thesis-based master's degree will go a long, long way to opening doors. Once the door is open, the thing that matters is how well you do the job."

You can get to know Lou better by checking her home pages:
Wool import and export
Historical Research
Creative writing and fun stuff

added February 6, 1997

Database Administrator

Diane C. Laval - "I am a database administrator working for Walt Disney's American Broadcasting Co. I am part of a team that is responsible for maintaining Client/Server and mainframe database management systems. At ABC, they include- Microsoft SQL Server, Gupta's SQL Base, IBM's DB2, and Computer Associates' IDMS. My main responsibility is to keep the databases up and running at all times (24 hours), and to provide users access to the information required when they need it.

Working in data processing is a second career for me. I began working in the field as a COBOL programmer. I moved into the database administration area three years later. My responsibilities as a DBA include database design and administration, backup and recovery, user security, server installations and upgrades, as well as server configuration and performance.

I work closely with management and development teams to assist in overall database design and tuning. I'm also responsible for working with DBMS vendor technical support teams, and network and system administrators to trouble shoot technical problems, and to improve user response time."

added February 6, 1997


Lee Reeves - I am a veterinarian and have been in practice for 23 years. My desire to become a veterinarian began at about age 5. My stuttering preceded that desire by about two years. My father helped me get my first job in an animal hospital when I was 13. By the time I was 16 we had moved to a different city and even though my stuttering had gotten a little worse due to the move and adolescence the drive to work with animals exceeded my fear of stuttering to the extent that I walked into a clinic and applied for a job. I was unable to say my name very well so I wrote it down on a piece of paper. I got the job !

It was not until I actually was accepted to vet school that panic set in. Now what was I going to do? Fortunately, I was able to find excellent therapeutic help while in school and went on to graduate and be successful in practice. I have never stopped stuttering although my stuttering is very mild these days thanks in no small measure to several key persons in my life and the NSP. Stuttering has been the biggest obstacle in my life. However,through facing that obstacle more opportunities have been afforded me than I ever dreamed possible.

added March 2, 1997

computer support technician, web designer for hire, and amateur writer

Eric Bourland - I'm a computer support technician, web designer for hire, and amateur writer in Falls Church VA. I have a very apparent stutter. At 28, I'm several years into what I hope will be a satisfying career -- so far, so good, anyway. I've been able to get this far because I applied myself and learned several marketable skills: writing; HTML designing; and a general knowledge of computers that has allowed me to get a job as a support technician. Later I plan to attend school part-time and earn a Master's degree in Information Sciences. I recently moved to VA to gain resident access to the wider range of colleges here.

After I learned a few solid skills I gained a lot of self-confidence. I have found that a confident, relaxed manner gets me farther in life than any actual skill I may possess. I continue to stutter and to be something of a loner, but that's my choice and anyway my vocation requires a lot of solitary work.

Decide what interests you, figure a way to make money doing it, then plunge yourself into it. Become very competent. You'll find that at a certain professional level, competence is all that counts. In my view, that's the key to success. If you're competent you'll find yourself in demand -- professionally and personally. My work colleagues have gotten used to my stutter, even when my stuttering becomes very graphic, which it often does. We talk and we proceed with the task at hand.

I've got a web page wherein I run my mouth at length about the matter of stuttering: it's called Strategies for Stutterers and a personal homepage

added March 2, 1997

Facility Maintenance Manager/ Safety Coordinator

Doug Hendricks - I am a facility maintenance manager and safety coordinator for a manufacturing plant that employees about 400 people. Most people I work with do not know I am a PWS. Besides supervising the facility maintenance department I teach safety and environmental seminars. They say if you have a job that you really enjoy you never have to work a day in your life. That's the kind of job I've had for the past 32 years. I was always so excited about what I was doing that it didn't make any difference if I stuttered or not. I got interested in doing the regulatory work where I worked because no one else was interested. I could spend much of my time, by myself, breaking the complicated regulations into tiny pieces that I could understand. Eventually I became the "authority" in the plant and later was elected chairman of the county LEPC (Local Emergency Planning Committee). My job as chairman requires that I preside over a community meeting open to the public.

It's the self-confidence that I gained as I struggled through these steps that I feel led to my fluency today. Some of my co-workers I went to high school with remember when I was not fluent but never a word was ever said about it. My stuttering has never been a problem for me as far as my work is concerned. People are more interested in what I have to say rather than how I say it. I had something of myself to sell to my employer that he needed and that's why I was hired. Most employers are interested in what you have to offer them, not if you stutter or not. I was not immune to the emotional baggage that comes with stuttering as a teenager. I know now that God gives us challenges in life in order to construct the kind of person needed for a specific need. God don't make junk. I would not be writing this article now if I could not empathize with a specific group of people.

added March 3, 1997

Professional Writer

Jim McClure - I thank my stuttering for making me a professional writer. Years of trying to hide my stuttering made me an expert at word substitution. I majored in journalism in college and worked part-time as a newspaper reporter. Phone calls and interviews were torture, but my stories pleased my editors and angered the bad guys.

I hid my stuttering well enough to get through officer training in the Navy. During my stint as a ship-handler there were some anxious moments when no one was sure whether I could blurt out the right orders before the ship ran aground. I was more successful as a public affairs officer, working with the press and writing the admiral's speeches.

I stayed in the reserves as a public affairs officer after my active-duty hitch, commanded two reserve units and eventually retired as a captain. Throughout my Navy career I was embarrassed by occasional severe stuttering blocks, but nobody hassled me once I became a senior officer. (Would I have made admiral if I didn't stutter? No way!)

My primary career was in corporate public relations. Eventually I overcame my typical-PWS telephone phobia and improved my overall fluency with speech therapy. I advanced into middle management but still had periods of disfluency when I would avoid making presentations and get a little reticent at meetings. Better fluency might have won me one more promotion (which would have become moot when the company purged the department).

Leaving the stress of corporate life in a voluntary buy-out and opening my own writing/consulting practice resulted in a BIG improvement in my fluency. I now make cold sales calls, seek out speaking engagements to build my consulting business, and have become a voice-mail junkie. I got a little better at public speaking when I served as president of a local professional organization.

In pursuing my career goals I've always been determined to NOT make my stuttering a barrier. I've continually pushed myself into speaking situations that were uncomfortable (even though I chicken-out occasionally) and gradually improved my self-confidence and ability to communicate.

added March 3, 1997

Manager - cosmetics factory

Larry Burd - My first real job was an auto mechanic. I was working for a major GM dealership. I figured that would be great, cars never talk back, but the customers did. So I had to go on to better and bigger things. I got an electrical engineering degree, and worked for Symbol Technologies. They manufacture the laser barcode scanners you see in every retail store. I worked on the design team of many laser scanner products, computer interface products, and so forth.

Then I went into Aerospace engineering and worked on the NASA Space Station. That had it's glory, but as with any government supported project, that only lasted so long.

Now I manage a 20,000 sq.ft. cosmetics factory, with 25 employees. We manufacture and ship cosmetics all over the world. I never thought I would manage people with a severe stutter, but it happens on a daily basis. I deal with vendors on a frequent basis. The bottom line is I get respected whether I stutter or not.

added March 5, 1997

Fine-art Photographic Technician/Portrait Photographer

Tony Troiano - - I have been involved with the photo industry for the past twenty-two years in various ways--wedding/portrait photograhy, commercial darkroom printing for labs catering to corporate clients, and fine art printing for artists who represent their work in a photographical context. I am currently expanding into a whole new realm - digital imagery.

Before this time, however, I was employed by the U.S. Postal Service. I might add that I have a moderate to severe stutter, and as a result, was rather introverted during my high school years. I was determined not to allow my stuttering to compromise potential job opportunities. I purposely applied for duties within the postal service that required public speaking (window clerk) and telephone use (keeping time of 200+ employees stationed at different locations).

I estimate I have photographed over a thousand weddings. I remember agonizing before each wedding assignment that I would severely block during the wedding and clients would lose patience with me or that no one would ever hire me because of my impediment. I came to realize that my ability stood on its own and found that clients (and other photo studios), through word-of-mouth, sought out my services. Likewise, my work with demanding high profile artists requires a fair amount of verbal give-and-take and plenty of telephone use. I cannot remember a single instance where my stutter negatively impacted the job at hand.

I hope some of you find my contribution inspiring. By the way, I find some of you inspiring. I may have met some of you at the NSP convention last year in Denver. I was very impressed by the degree of confidence I observed among the teens I met there.

added March 11, 1997


Dennis Hendricks - - I am a locksmith in Branson Missouri. My wife and I own and operate a lock shop here in Branson . I got interested in locksmithing as a hobby and my dream was to someday own a "Mom and Pop" shop. I worked as a mid line supervisor at a large industrial plant located in the Oklahoma town where I was born and raised. I liked my work at the plant, but it was a lot of stress, being in the middle. Before we moved to Branson I had ulcers and was taking nerve pills. It scared us to death to quit our good jobs, move to Branson and start a business. I had never really left home and was 34 years old. We were reminded when discussing this stuttering handicap that when we were trying to come up with a name for our shop it had to be something I could say over the phone (in a short time). We did good work and did it 24 hours a day, whenever our customers needed us. Our business grew from nothing to a full time profession but more importantly it is MY business. I am the boss and I am no longer in the middle, no stress to speak of and a wonderful area in which to do business. I talk to customers, some very influential business owners, and am not affected at all by my stuttering. I was on the Branson Volunteer Fire Department for 10 years as a Firefighter / Engineer.

Stuttering never bothered me much in my jobs. Fellow workers and subordinates never showed it bothered them either. I know it did bother me some in school but I noticed when I had to get up in front of the class and speak that I was no more nervous than most of the kids that didn't stutter, in fact I did better than some. I know the self confidence that I gained knowing my job and owning my own business made a big difference in my speech. Most of my customers have never heard me stutter. As long as I don't move to ChhChChCHICAGO I'll be fine. Humor has always had a hand in my view of this handicap. Humor is good medicine for what ails you and I always try to find something humorous in the worst of things as well as in regular life.

added March 21, 1997

Professor of Speech-Language Pathology

Peter R. Ramig, Ph.D. - I have worked as a speech-language pathologist for 22 years. For 17 of those years I have specialized in child and adult stuttering as a professor at the University of Colorado, working as a teacher, researcher, and therapist. I have a wonderful, rewarding job! As a child, adolescent, and young adult who stuttered, I could never have imagined many years ago doing a job today that involves so much talking. Stuttering was a very embarrassing and frustrating problem for me from my pre-school years through the first several years of college. Although I still stutter today, and probably will for the rest of my life, it is no longer a problem for me. In comparison, I stutter very little now, and when I do I no longer try to hide or avoid it. I now stutter with little effort or tension as I move forward through my words.

My change was made possible through quality speech therapy from caring, understanding, knowledgeable speech pathologists. They helped me learn many useful techniques which enabled me to become the master of my stuttering (as opposed to a victim of my stuttering). Although my change was not significant until my early twenties, the therapy I received in my grade school years contributed to the significant change I made later. Thanks to my own struggle with stuttering, I now work with children and adults who stutter, conduct research in stuttering, and train undergraduate and graduate students persuing a degree in speech-language pathogy.

My advice to people struggling with stuttering is as follows: 1) try your best not to let it hold you back and keep you from your going after your life dreams and aspirations; 2) seek out therapy from caring, understanding, knowledgeable speech pathologists with expertise in stuttering treatment; and 3) try to reduce your word and situational avoidances because the more you run from stuttering, the more you empower it.

added April 7, 1997

Medical Doctor - General Surgeon

William Fletcher, M.D. - Even as a stuttering junior high school student, and with moral support from my father, I had my mind set on medicine. Though I stuttered some all the way through high school, college and the Army, I stuck to my goal and received my M.D. in 1949. When I had setbacks, I would talk to my professors and advisors and received the encouragement to persist in my work. At no point did I think of abandoning my goal.

As I progressed through internship and a five year residency in surgery, my confidence in my speech improved with my knowledge. I recently retired after 36 1/2 yrs. in general surgery. After I retired from my practice, I found my speech getting sloppy so I looked up a chapter of NSP in our area and am now offering moral support to others in the chapter, especially youth. This gives me a great deal of satisfaction and has helped me regain my confidence in more fluent speech.

My advice- follow your dream. You will find that you will be respected in spite of a few bad speech days.

added May 7, 1997

Professional Voice Teacher

Winston Purdy: My job is teaching singing at McGill University. I am the only person I know of who openly stutters and teaches voice at a professional level.

I sang from the age of two; all my family sang, it's in the blood. When I was about 5 I was singing in the kitchen one day just before supper--probably with my baby brother screaming nearby--when my mother said to me, "Stop that singing. Nobody wants to hear to you sing!" So I shut up and couldn't sing another note in front of anyone for many years. But I wanted to sing. I started lessons at the age of 19 and when I was about 24 decided to try it professionally. In the mean time I studied clarinet and reached a fairly high level.I played solo on TV with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (in a concert of young soloists) I studied compostion and got a BMus degree. In the meantime, I did some choir singing and knew I had a voice and I really wanted to sing. I went to Germany and promptly lost my voice through brutal training techniques. I changed teachers and started rebuilding my voice but at the age of 30 I decided that I would never become a professional singer and started teaching, since I had learned a lot of rehabilitation techniques and I had many years of musical experience behind me. At age 32 I joined the part-time staff at McGill University.

I took therapy for stuttering at age 35 and that helped a lot. My speech is getting better all the time . When I'm working in the privacy of my studio with my students, I am very nearly completely fluent, most of the time. I gave a public master class a couple of years ago where I was completely fluent for the whole time; great fun! I have a Master's degree from Eastman (one of the continent's best music schools) and have students who have won major competitions and have pro careers.

I didn't set out to become a voice teacher but I love it! I have continued to study vocal pedagogy and I know so much more now than I did when I started. I feel passionate about learning as much as I can about singing and voice teaching. And my own voice has continued to improve. I can now give professional recitals and sing with a significant voice. Of course, I have many years of musical and artistic training behind me as well.

To sum up: I didn't choose to do this at the beginning of my training, and it's been very hard at times, but I love doing it and I would never discourage any PWS who loves to sing and to teach from becoming a professional voice teacher.

added May 8, 1997

Program Manager for the Federal Government

Joan Strnisa Simmons: My career started out in Medical Technology. I went into lab work because I thought that it meant that I would not have to talk much. I was wrong. The job required the ability to call and give lab results and other information over the phone. I had good days and bad days, but found that once people got to know me and that I stuttered, they generally accepted that it might take a little longer to get the information. I enjoyed working "on the bench" for about 14 years. Eventually, I wanted to expand my professional horizons.

I decided that I would try to balance my lack of ability to articulate with education, and pursued an MBA. This opened the door to laboratory management. After several years in laboratory management, I decided to take on another challenge- the public sector.

I am now a program manager for the Federal Government. In my job, I manage the national program for quality in laboratories. This program sets minimum quality standards for all clinical laboratory testing done in the US (and its possessions) for the diagnosis and treatment of human beings. We also implement those standards and enforce them through 10 regional offices and 54 State agencies. In this job, I supervise about 30 people in the main office, and indirectly supervise about 30 more people in the regional offices, who contract with States to employ about 180 lab inspectors nationwide. In this job, I interact with many people from all over the country as well as on Capitol Hill. I find that the people I work and talk to generally are more interested in hearing what I have to say than focusing on whether or not I am totally fluent. Sure, sometimes I still run into a jerk or two, but I have found over the years that the jerks are far outnumbered by those who consider my stuttering just another part of my persona. Ten years ago, I NEVER thought that I would EVER do something like this!

added June 7, 1997


Mitchell E. Kaltz, D.M.D: - I have stuttered since I was 6 years old, so I've been doing it for 30 years now. Sometimes I thought (or hoped) it would just go away someday. Unfortunately, things don't work that way. So I've learned to do the best I can in whatever I do. I majored in math and science in college, and decided to become a dentist because I felt it was the toughest challenge I could find - - you have to be good academically, good with your hands and a good communicator with people. That doesn't mean you have to speak perfectly. It means you can show others you sincerely care about them and their well-being.

I really don't enjoy talking on the phone, but I managed to do what was necessary to open my own dental practice from scratch. Five years later I moved my practice location 15-20 minutes away - and guess what, just about every patient followed me. They knew they were well-cared for.

I sporadically received speech therapy for years, in elementary, junior high and high school, and later on as well. My own personal experiences with therapy were not very good, either because I wasn't motivated enough or it just didn't work on me. Or else I was really fluent in speech class but it didn't carry over to real life. But, as I got older, I found that the natural self-confidence that comes with maturity really helps with fluency. There were some early teenage years when I NEVER picked up the phone. When I was 21 I filled out a VERY long and thorough job application with the federal government for a math position, then didn't follow up on it because instead of their calling me (like it said they were supposed to), I was supposed to call them. You know, call them and give my name, address, phone number, etc. Well, forget it.

Awful experiences like that happen to people who stutter. When they happen, you feel like crawling under a rock. Or worse. But the point is, it really isn't as bad as it feels at the time. I'm more than a talker, I'm a person with talents, abilities, and strengths. I'm happily married for nine years to a speech-language pathologist, and have a beautiful little boy. As my wife always tells me: Remember what's important.

added October 20, 1997
Supervisor for General Motors, photographer, author, teacher

Richard G. Wells: - I spent 4 years as a Navy photographer in the Korean War. 3 years as a United States Marine. My speech did not improve until I had a driving desire to be a Supervisor for General Motors. THEN, I took speech correction classes and it bought up my speech to what I call a "socially acceptable" level. There was plenty of resistance from upper Management. After all, how could a stutterer do a supervisor's job?

Well, I did it until my retirement in 1987.

After retirement, my new wife encouraged me to follow up on my photography and become a teacher. I laughed. ME? A TEACHER? But she prevailed. I have been teaching for 10 years, successfully, I might add.

At my first class, my first statement is, "My name is Richard Wells. I stutter and have been doing it for over 60 years. If I can put up with it for that long, you should be able to for a couple of hours a week."

With that out of the way, we do very well.

I have pursued my photography to become known world wide. My writing and photography have been published in over 80 countries. My walls are full of blue ribbons and plaques. Many magazines have published my writings and photos here in the United States.

As a long time stutterer, I can say from personal experience, that even though stuttering is a terrible thing to go through, there are some definite up-sides. Let me count the ways :)

You listen more, hence learn more.

When you do speak, people are more attentive.

I did a lot of listening and observing. Now, when I speak, I am sure of my subject matter and know it doesn't make any difference if I stutter or not. I have something to say that the listeners want to hear. As I don't substitute words any more, I am concise.

It has been a great experience and I have led such a good life, as my book, "OVER THE SIDE" indicates, that I am a happy man. Even though I still stutter.

added January 10, 1998
Dean of the College of Graduate Studies & Research

Tony Filipovitch: - I am Dean of the College of Graduate Studies & Research at Mankato State University. But I wasn't always a dean! If you want the rest of the gory details, my resume is on the web.

I don't know when I began stuttering. I do remember that I was doing it by the 3rd grade. My best friend (he lived two houses down the block) stuttered, too. We were part of a large clot of kids on our block who ran together, and nobody fussed too much about our stuttering (maybe because we stood up for each other). I went to speech therapy at the local public school, but I didn't like it--it made me feel singled out.

When I decided I wanted to become a priest in the sixth grade, they sent me back to speech therapy. Now I was motivated. I went to therapy from then all through high school and into college. When I went to my last therapist, she threw me out of her office saying I had learned it all, there was nothing more she could teach me. Just DO it!

All that speech therapy made me a pretty good speaker--I learned how to control my breath, how to pitch my voice, how use the rhythm of my speaking, how to pay attention to the shape of sounds (I still love languages and dialects today). I competed in speech tournaments in high school, and generally came in the top 3. I still stuttered--but I had learned how to perform around it.

For most of my life, I have made my living by talking. I was a classroom professor for almost 25 years. Like many others in this series, I can report that my stuttering became less frequent in adulthood but has never completely gone away. But now I relax into it rather than tensing up. And while there are the occasional jerks who make an issue of my stuttering (never has a colleague or a boss cared), mostly people don't notice or don't care. If anything, my experience with stuttering has made me a better speaker and a better writer.

added March 13, 1998


Renee Krul - This bio is from the perspective of a person who both loves nursing as a career, and is a PWS. Writing this is a somewhat introspective exercise, and is helpful for me as well, as this will be the first time I have described my nursing career in terms designed to be meaningful specifically to another PWS. And as I am preparing to do so, I am feeling a sense of warm kinship and pride for other PWS's who are drawn to this wonderfully challenging profession.

I entered nursing school in 1974, directly after high school graduation. The nursing school was a 3 year university affiliated program, which offered an Associate of Science Degree in Nursing. Nursing school was a sometimes agonizing experience, both as a young woman away from home for the first time, and as a PWS confronting the challenges of speaking which present within the practice of nursing and as a student being evaluated for performance, all at the same time. Before I was accepted to nursing school, my speech was a topic of consideration and concern for the admissions committee, in spite of my excellent academic record from high school. My speech was inconsistently disfluent, and was the most difficult for me when I was anxious and in formal settings. I was accepted, although with some reservations from the school. In 1977, I graduated with high academic honors, although I had indeed experienced some challenging situations with regard to my speech when I was required to present oral discussions about the patients I had prepared to be assigned to on a given day. To the best of my memory, my interactions with patients and peers were generally fluent and I handled the intermittent disfluencies much in the way I had previously always done throughout my life- with candor, and drawing on support of others when I had no other alternatives. I was determined to make it through, and to perservere to have the experience of college life and the independence that comes with living away from home, which I was hoping would bolster my general confidence and ability to manage my speech through my endeavors. My instincts were apparently good, because as I have come to understand, confidence and self- knowledge that inevitably come with perserverence and time were the keys to my overall ability to reach my goals.

Upon graduation, I began working immediately, and passed the state boards for licensure as a Registered Nurse. I entered the professional role with a similar anxiety as I had in school with regard to the working day tasks which required phone calls and formal speaking, such as giving report to the next shift of nurses. As with most of my life experiences as a PWS, I developed adaptive ways to maneuver through these tasks, and drew upon the support and comraderie of the other nurses I worked with. The Health Care community as a whole is a very supportive place, usually sensitive to personal challenges and self help. Over time, the speaking related tasks which were initially anxiety producing to me eventually became routine, or at least manageable using adaptive techniques either learned in therapy, or of my own creation.

In a nutshell, my nursing career has spanned 21 years to date, and I have worked in various settings, including acute and critical care in hospitals, home care as a visiting nurse, and as a Nurse Case Manager and business owner for the last ten years. I completed my Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and began graduate school courses after having worked for a few years, and while I was also mothering my three young children. (I highly suggest a minimum of a B.S.N. to afford you with choices and career mobility in today's health care market.) Currently, I am one of three partners in a Case Management services company, and I am the Manager of the Quality and Professional Review Department in a large University Hospital. I have worked as an independent consultant as well over the last 10 years for health insurance plans, and have testified as an expert witness in court several times. My success has resulted in being asked to speak publicly on many occasions... and although I have grown so significantly in my career throughout the years, speaking situations still cause me anxiety and the heart wrenching challenges understood only by a PWS. In fact, last year I was awarded a national recognition as Distinguished Nurse Case Manager of the Year at a national conference, and while I was basking in the excitement of it all, my mind was preoccupied with the prospects of an acceptance speech, or even a few brief words of gratitude.

The frustration of this seemingly paradoxical state of being has become more manageable for me over the years, but not necessarily because I have become more fluent, but because I have finally come to accept all of it within the total package of "me." I am candid about my stuttering, and explain it if it is necessary in order to proceed in a situation. I seek support when I need to, and I have also become more selective about the challenges I undertake. I no longer feel that I have to prove myself and will not volunteer or accept requests to do anything that will cause me undue anxiety or is not consistent with my personal and professional goals. I have become sensitive to my own cycles and body rhythms and the need to conserve my own energy, which has a direct impact on my overall well being and more specifically, my fluency. One of the most advantageous aspects of nursing as a career for a PWS is the choices and flexibility it affords. You can choose to work in any one of many settings, either hospital based or in the community, or in private industry, and can choose from many different clinical specialization areas. As a PWS, you may be much more self aware than other people of your body rhythms and other variables which may affect your fluency. For some, working in a high energy situation such as an Emergency Room may be compatible with more fluency, while other PWS's may do better in a more predictable and calmer environment. My suggestion to aspiring nurses is to observe yourself throughout your training (and life in general) and learn as much as you can about how you function and manage the best both as a nurse and as a PWS.

Don't lose sight of the fact that your choices are many, and you are very needed in the health care community. So be kind to yourself along the way by giving yourself the time and opportunity to learn more about your own strengths and desires, and never lose sight of the wonderful contribution you are making as a nurse. Feel free to contact me at any time for questions or support.

added April 26, 1998
Engineering Records and Release Specialist

Bernie Weiner: - I have worked at General Dynamics Land Systems, in Michigan, for over twenty one years. General Dynamics is a defense contractor and builder of the main battle tank, the M1A2 Abrams, for the U.S. Army. My occupation brings me in contact with many facets of the business world. I sometimes have to talk to representatives of the Army, as well as talking to our designers and engineers. Although I have had no formal training in design work, I have learned to read engineering drawings and to do a little Cad based design work myself. My job mainly entails keeping detailed records of changes to drawings and maintaining a bill of material for procurement purposes, through the use of a specialized government computer tracking system. During my twenty one years at General Dynamics, I have been faced with many speaking challenges. Recently, I got the shock of my life, when my boss put me on the other end of a conference call with representatives of the Army and representatives of a computer company who were trying out some new software. I find it pretty funny that I have become the spokesman for our department. I am the one who goes to the boss to iron out problems and answer his questions. The other twenty people in my department look to me to speak up for them even though I am the one who stutters. What I once thought was going to be a pretty safe place to hide my stuttering, has afforded more speaking opportunites than I ever thought of. My job has forced me to get out of my "comfort zone" many time. I sometimes struggle but it has been worth the effort.

added July 4, 1998