THE GOOD NEWS GIRL by Shell Lessen

But first the bad news…

This year’s edition of Gallup’s “State of the U.S. Workforce” included 150,000 respondents, 70 percent of whom reported that that they either hate their jobs or, in Galluptalk, are “disengaged” from them.

Now some good news:  They have alternatives—more than they might think.  A number of major industries are waving welcome mats at qualified people in search of interesting, challenging and rewarding jobs. People like senior speech-language pathologist Jennifer Bullaro.

In her field alone, at least 28,000 new openings will be created before 2020, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics projections.

Seniors on the march

Jennifer noted that the surge in demand is largely attributable to the growing number of elderly patients throughout the country. “This steady increase assures job security as well,” she added.

For her, there are plenty of other incentives. “As a speech-language pathologist, I am in a position to provide direct help in correcting serious health problems. That, in itself, is a source of job satisfaction. I am also fortunate enough to be working with caring, highly skilled professionals in an extremely pleasant environment. The entire experience is constantly broadening my skills. It’s a marvelous mixture of working and learning.”

A seven-year veteran in her field, Jennifer is in practice at UCLA Health System in Los Angeles. In addition to treating adult speech and language disorders, she deals with swallowing difficulties and speech-language troubles arising from head and neck cancer, stroke and Parkinson’s disease.

A long to-do list       

“Much of what I do for patients is based on quality of life issues such as lingering hoarseness, inappropriate pitch and harsh voice. Some cases, however, are tragically debilitating,” she pointed out.

“One of my most memorable cases in this category involved a young man in his 20’s who was unable to communicate verbally. He simply could not move the muscles that control speech. I finally arranged for him to have a specially designed computer that was accessible by using one’s eyes.  In a very real sense, this remarkable ‘tool’ became his voice by enabling him to communicate via the typewritten word.”

Surprise, surprise!

It’s difficult to believe that this young lady, who so enthusiastically embraces her job now, did not choose speech-language pathology as a career. “Quite the opposite, it sort of chose me,” she said.

“When I was an undergraduate at Duke University, I decided to become part of the medical profession. I crossed becoming a doctor off my list because most of them have work schedules that are so full they can only spend a certain amount of time with each patient. I didn’t want to work under that restriction.”

Because Duke’s pre-med courses were open only to pre-med students, Jennifer was at an impasse. The dream of finding a pathway to the healthcare profession was beginning to fade when a sympathetic counselor came to the rescue. She suggested that Jennifer look into Duke’s speech therapy program. Jennifer did and soon she was hooked.

Newcomer makes good

However this pathway came complete with a new twist.  “I knew nothing about speech-language pathology. I had no real interest in it. I had never even heard of it,” she pointed out. But diligence, determination and excellent instructors combined to help her turn things around. The future brightened; the pathway straightened and she could see a satisfying career at the end of the journey.

Jennifer graduated from Duke and went on to earn a Master’s Degree at Vanderbilt University. Sandwiched in between were four months of supplemental “on my own study in Paris.” The curriculum there included history and psychology.

When it came time to trade the academic life for a regular paycheck, she returned to her alma mater as a speech-language pathologist at Duke Medical Center. Five years later she joined the staff of UCLA.

Jennifer noted proudly that “state-of-the-art equipment, plus advances achieved through extensive on-going research, have helped make UCLA’s speech-language pathologists highly effective and very much in demand. Best of all, we can anticipate making even greater strides in the years to come.”

Help where needed     

Viewing the future from a personal standpoint, she characteristically sees herself “helping to expand awareness of speech-language therapy’s benefits via community outreach programs.

As for the present, here’s hoping that the small sample job list below will prove helpful for some unhappy employees and job-hunters as well.

HEALTHCARE—Many hospitals need pharmacists, radiology and laboratory technicians, as well as maintenance staff. Registered nurse positions are available in 89 percent of the hospitals in the U.S.

It is estimated that over the next decade 103,900 nurses and 7,850 physical therapists will be needed to sustain the current standard of care.

CHILD CARE—Also during next decade, researchers expect 532,100 new jobs to be created in childcare facilities.

TECHNOLOGY—By 2018, openings for software programmers and systems analysts will rise 20 percent.

ENGINEERING—In a recent survey of employers, 88 percent reported that they could not find enough qualified engineers.

SALES AND MANUFACTURING—72 percent of employers face a shortage of sales people.

For information on additional job openings, visit