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Stuttering Stupid Nurse

So...I'm not looking for sympathy or anything. I think I just need to get this out. If you judge me for my decision then you judge me but know that I am hurting inside and feel hopeless.

I have a stutter and it's worse when I'm nervous. I'm a recent new grad and got my first job as an RN in May 2012 and I knew that my stutter was going to make it difficult at times to talk to patients, doctors, coworkers, and family members but I never thought that it would be this hard. There were times when I couldn't even say "Hi my name is.." or "I have some medication for you" and when it did happen the patients would look at me and wonder what was wrong with me or maybe they thought I was dumb or incompetent because of my stutter. And to make matters worse speaking Spanish is a must in my area and I stutter a lot worse when attempting to speak the little Spanish I know. The look on the patients face of confusion/doubt was the worst.

My coworkers started to notice and I heard one of them announcing to the other nurses there "dude, she talks all stupid." and they laughed...I pretended not to notice but ended up tearing up in the bathroom. I can't begin to explain how hard it is to speak as a person who stutters (I think only a stutterer would understand). I've tried hard to find ways to hide it and when someone notices it it completely embarrasses me and devastates me. I admitted a patient the other day the charge nurse wanted to see me do it and I stuttered so bad and then she called in an experienced nurse to finish up the admit assessment. The patient said "oh thank god. you seem to have better speech than this one" I shrugged it off. but called in sick to the work the next day. I quickly became depressed and doubted my ability to ever be a nurse if I can't even communicate effectively and I was highly stressed. The skills weren't the problem but the communication was. So before giving myself I chance, I quit.

And I don't know whether or not to pursue with nursing or to try something...anything else but every job requires speaking. I know I didn't even give myself a chance and I feel absolutely terrible that I did quit. I guess I just want to know if anyone else stutters here or knows someone who stutters. I already feel stupid for quitting and I know that I shouldn't have so please don't be mean about it.

Edited by TheCommuter

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 9 years experience.

No meanness here. This may be a stupid, obvious question but have you sought out therapy for your stuttering? Many people stutter and have learned how to control it. It is going to be worse in times of stress, as you have said, and there are few things more stressful than being a brand new grad. I wish you the best of luck and hope you can get the help you need to thrive in your career.


Specializes in Emergency. Has 11 years experience.

I can not even begin to imagine how difficult that situation was for you. I don't really understand it, but I think any time you have trouble communicating things begin to be frustrating. Being new did not help matters.

Firstly, I think the other poster is correct, you need to seek out, or continue whatever therapy you can do for the stutter, it can get better. I am sure you know of or have heard of over the years the many brilliant people who had a stutter. You are not stupid and can be a good nurse...One step in getting there will be gaining better control over the stuttering. Patients of course will not be expected to be understanding of accomodating because they are ill and very concerned about why they feel bad, what the diagnosis means for them etc... BUT the other staff- SHAME on them for what was said.

Did you share with your manager/charge RN or preceptor that you have a stutter? I know for me, when I have some sort of issues, I find I am more confident when I simply share up front in a non-pressure situation. Something like, "I do have a stutter and it can get worse if I feel nervous. I've been working on it and it is getting better each day, but please understand that sometimes I might have some trouble." Thus, your charges etc, know whats going on, and can try to help you out, by possibly starting an admission while you get comfortable with the pt or what not.

You have a BIG challenge to overcome. But, you can do it. You made it through Nursing school- which involved a lot of pt interaction etc. take some time to get things in place to allow yourself to succeed.

xoemmylouox, ASN, RN

Has 13 years experience.

My husband has a pretty bad stutter. He has been in therapy since a child. While he has is somewhat under control, being in stressful environments makes it a million times worse. He is often thought to be dumb or retarded. It is very embarassing for him. It upsets me as I know how smart and capable he is. It infuriates me when people make ignorant remarks as well. He has always wanted to be a lawyer, but he doesn't want the constant remarks that you are currently facing. There are so many people who do not understand what stuttering is. Even other healthcare workers, it is ridiculous! Good luck to you. I think venting on here will help. If I can help please let me know.

First off I am so sorry some people have been so rude to you, as people first nurses second we can be plain mean. I dont care what your issue is, obese, deaf, blind, cripple, whatever no one has the right to make fun of anyone. Mel Tillis was a great country western singer he could sing any song you played but he could not say 3 words without stuttering. He would come on stage and say hell...hell..hello, im .....melllllll, tilllis then sing the song perfect. He took therapy and later was able to speak relatively plain. Dont ever give up .... you are a nurse you passed school clinicals and boards, dont let nothing take that from you.There are all sorts of jobs as nurses some with pt care some without. Find your spot and fullfill your destiny. Love and prayers.

Pepper The Cat, BSN, RN

Specializes in Gerontology. Has 34 years experience.

I agree with everyone who says you need to look into speech therapy help.

Obviously, you made it through clinicals, etc with this challenge - what helped you then?

Don't be too hard on the pts and their families.They are unwell and under a lot of stress. Communication is such an important part of health care that they may be concerned that important information may not be shared due to your stuttering.

Good luck.

RNperdiem, RN

Has 14 years experience.

I suspect that part of your misery is being a new grad with low morale and zero self-confidence. The low morale and confidence is almost standard and most of us remember how that felt.

I could be destroyed with the mildest criticism back then.

Luckily self confidence is earned over time, skills improve, and you can use your stuttering as a source of compassion for people who suffer in other ways.

Sometimes I tell my son to make a point "you didn't like it when you had all those tics and people made fun of you."

I don't stutter, but I have periods of brain fog when I accidentally ingest food I shouldn't eat (I have a gluten intolerance, and gluten can make my mind do some pretty strange things) or when my blood levels happen to be low. I know the feeling of frustration when you're not able to properly convey something or communicate effectively. Sometimes, my brain fog is bad that I find myself mixing up words, or I have trouble saying simple sentences without hesitating or having to concentrate harder than I normally would. It's a VERY frustrating feeling, especially when other people are quick to make judgments and assume the worst in a person.

I agree with other members that you may benefit from speech therapy, if that's something you can afford. Also, maybe some stress-relieving activities (yoga, meditation) to help you relax or handle your stress levels on more of a broad basis can further prevent your stutters. I know meditation and writing has helped me gain a greater focus on myself so as to not concentrate on my inabilities, but instead work around them and be confident in knowing that I can still succeed. Hope I've helped. PM me if you ever want to talk.

emtb2rn, BSN, RN, EMT-B

Specializes in Emergency. Has 21 years experience.

I get the same type of fog as jazz, either tongue tied or tripping over the words. No real cause I've figured out, just happens. I stop trying to talk, take a deep breath & start again.

I agree with the question about how you handled clinicals. Can you do the same thing until your confidence overcomes your nerves?

Good luck, hang in there.

i'm with the others who suggest speech therapy...

and am very sympathetic to your situation.

people can be cruel, as you have discovered...

and i'd like to see you attain enough confidence where you're not affected by others criticisms.

see what you can do for yourself, before going back to nursing...

and then return when you're feeling stronger and less vulnerable.

keep us updated, ok?:hug:


It's sad that some educated professional adults still have middle school mentalities.

My fiance and I also have a stutter. I pretty well grew out of mine as I got older, but being stressed and talking in front of people brings mine out. And he still has his and I've seen how non understanding people treat him. So I can understand how you must be feeling. Being new doesn't help anything, I'm sure. Try to explain to your fellow workers that you cannot help that you stutter, and being called out on it doesn't make it any better and that they would not like it if it were them. One thing that he has been looking into is a device called Speech Easy. It's a tiny device fitted into your ear, a lot like a hearing aid. It creates a choral effect. I'm not exactly sure how, but it is something to look into and I believe it can be covered by insurance.

Don't let the negativity of others get to you. No one's perfect, and all of those who make fun of someone else whether it be their speech, looks, weight, etc.... Usually means they are unhappy with themselves.

I hope everything works out for you

Edited by -jnicole
grammatical error


Specializes in LTC/Rehab.

I'm a stutterer too but not severe since I got some therapy in elementray school. Still, I think speaking slowly and focusing on what you are saying than how you say it helps.

I pray that you feel better. I know people can be cruel and stuttering can destroy your self-esteem.

all good suggestions, and you should definitely follow up on them. "the king's speech" is inspiring for anyone, stutterer or not. i mean, if you think you've got performance anxiety, try being told you're going to be the king of england in wartime. god save him, indeed.

this is not an alternative suggestion to get you away from floor nursing if that's not your goal, but i'd like to compliment you on your written work. you express yourself very --exceptionally-- clearly, fluently, and eloquently in writing. there are many, many ways to use a nursing education, background, and abilities in the journalism milieu, in the law, in research, in the blogosphere ... you could start part time and see how it goes.

Lynx25, LPN

Specializes in LTC. Has 1 years experience.

"Dude, she talks all stupid"

What a terrible person. :-/ However, haters gonna hate, so there's always going to be SOMETHING about you that some people are going to pick at.

I stutter a bit, but it's usually only when on the phone, or reading aloud... which makes reading reports over the phone to the doc HELL. Sometimes I can bulldoze my way through it, sometimes I ask someone if they'd mind calling my labs in for me.

Thank you all very much for your kind comments and support. I posted this in the early hours of the morning and never imagined that I would get such great replies. The suggestions were great. Therapy is something that I will definitely try to look into. I've also heard of the speech easy device and have been looking into that for about 3 years now. I'm guessing I should explain a little more about myself and my history with stuttering. I started stuttering out of the blue when I was in 8th grade and I was confused as to what was happening because one day I spoke fluently then the next day I was stuttering. It got worse in high school and even worse in college. My stutter is not the the repetitive type such as "wha-wha-wha-what.." it's more of a block. I'll get the sentence out then there will be a block and I can't get the next word out to complete the sentence. I also have lots of trouble starting a sentence. Words that start with W are the worst such as What, When, Why, When. When I was in nursing school I was prescribed medication for anxiety by my doctor but after I graduated I didn't want to be on it anymore and didn't want to depend on it to function at a work. It did help but as a nurse I kind of felt that it was bad thing to be on anti-anxiety pills but maybe I needed them. When I was on them my stutter was still there but I was much more relaxed. Again, thank you all for being supportive and for your suggestions and for sharing your own personal stories about your stutters and about your loved ones who stutter. And thank you GrnTea for your kind comment on my writing. I'm going to take some time and figure things out. I'm not going to give up again because I know that I can be a great nurse and I know that I am knowledgeable.


Specializes in ER, Peds, Informatics.

I also have a stutter. When I have started new jobs, I will hear people talk about it or make stupid comments. I always make it a point to pull them aside and explain to them why I talk the way I do (I had birth trauma and was not expected to walk, talk, hear, or see). I did therapy but I have damage to my speech area which means it's there and it's not going away. In every single instance, after I have explained to someone, I get an "Oh, I'm so sorry...I didn't realize." The person usually feels terrible, and then they will speak up for me when I am not around if someone starts asking about it.

I also work with a physician who stutters. He has done therapy and he has his good days and bad days. Patients love him because he is very down-to-earth, approachable, and kind. Nevertheless, despite the speech issues, we are both successful professionals.

Have you seen a neurologist? It's odd that you would speak normally one day and begin to stutter the next. Stutters are developmental or caused by trauma/disease/brain damage.

Edited by diosa78

Just like JazzRN & emtb2rn, I also get a brain fogged. Ugh.... I hate it! The other day I was sitting in class & we were introducing ourselves & I began to stumble over my words and get simple sentences twisted. I was so upset at myself. I often wonder why my words always come out so disorganized. (This was Mon) today I decided to not worry about because I sometimes can't help it. I just have to remember to start over take a deep breath and relax. @JazzRN that's a good idea about writing. I love to write & I will try that. & pearlgarden it will be okay. First off just give yourself a pep talk before your day starts say positive things don't remind yourself of the negative. Also when meeting a new person rather it be a new admit or someone away from work. Close your eyes & take a deep breath. Sometimes when you make a joke out of something yourself it helps. Address the issue before someone else does for instance. If you feel like your going to stumble (stutter your words) just say excuse me I may stutter but I'm always nervous when I meet ________ a handsome young man (mind you your Patient Is 60 yrs. ie. old) or... oh wow you are a beautiful lady & it says your 60 when you look 50 are you sure your really 60? Say it with a smile then introduce yourself. The laughter may make you feel comfortable. It's a mind game. You have to set yourself up for a positive outcome even if you stutter it. As for your coworkers I would address the person(s) that's just me. I understand your new wait for that 3 month/6month evaluation to pass then if your the type of person that stands up for herself then pull them to the side and let them know how you feel offended and instead of tearing me(you)down in front of others. He/she need to worry about their own issues. & walk away without giving them a chance to respond that it will put them in their place. Well if that was me I will do that. Good Luck Pray about it!


Specializes in Neuroscience/Brain and Stroke.

I also have a stutter. When I have started new jobs, I will hear people talk about it or make stupid comments. I always make it a point to pull them aside and explain to them why I talk the way I do (I had birth trauma and was not expected to walk, talk, hear, or see). I did therapy but I have damage to my speech area which means it's there and it's not going away. In every single instance, after I have explained to someone, I get an "Oh, I'm so sorry...I didn't realize."

This was going to be my suggestion to the OP, pull them aside and fill them in or they will forever remain ignorant. It's a shame that this is happening in healthcare, they of all people should know better. This really sounds like something you hear on the playground when the 4th graders are making fun of their peers, just horrible that grown adults are still doing this. I know anxiety is what makes your stutter worse but advocate for yourself, tell them it's not appropriate and explain to them why so that they think twice before making fun of someone else. Good luck to you.


Specializes in CCRN, ED, Unit Manager. Has 3 years experience.

I can totally relate to this. I grew up with a speech impediment and a lisp and it was really, really bad. Sometimes I talk really fast and people have no clue what I just said, too, or my mind races about 100 times faster than my mouth and I stutter a little bit too.

It might be different as a guy, IDK, since I had to beat the crap out of people for making fun of me it made me more confident about it. Maybe you should go back and beat some nurses up, lol

Pepper The Cat, BSN, RN

Specializes in Gerontology. Has 34 years experience.

Pearlgraden, if you need to take medication to help you cope with your stutter, then you should take it.

It is no different than someone needing glasses to see, a hearing aid to hear etc.

You need the meds to function in the world. Just something to think about


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