Nurse with Patient

According to the “United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast” published in 2012 in The American Journal of Medical Quality, a shortage of Registered Nurses is expected to spread across the country from 2009 to 2030. The shortage is expected to be most intense in the South and West.

In an article called “Nursing Shortage,” the American Association of Colleges of Nursing lists the following contributing factors impacting the nursing shortage:

  • A shortage of nursing school faculty is restricting nursing school enrollments.

    Increasing the numbers of nursing school faculty will not be easy. The current nurse educators are growing older, and it takes time to develop nurse faculty with doctoral degrees to build programs. The cost of getting advanced degrees is also significant. Possible solutions include giving incentives to RNs to become nurse educators.

  • A significant segment of the nursing workforce is nearing retirement age.

    According to a 2013 survey conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, 55% of the RN workforce is age 50 or older.

  • Changing demographics signal a need for more nurses to care for our aging population.

    In a 2016 article entitled “U.S. Still Headed For Nurse Shortage,” Sallie Jimenez wrote, “Between 2010 and 2030, the population of senior citizens will increase by 75% to 69 million, meaning one in five Americans will be a senior citizen; in 2050, an estimated 88.5 million people in the U.S. will be ages 65 and older.”

    As Baby Boomers reach their 60’s and beyond, they will require more healthcare services. According to a May 2001 report, Who Will Care for Each of Us?: America’s Coming Health Care Crisis, released by the Nursing Institute at the University of Illinois College of Nursing, the ratio of potential caregivers to the people most likely to need care, the elderly population, will decrease by 40% between 2010 and 2030.

  • Insufficient staffing is raising the stress level of nurses, impacting job satisfaction, and driving many nurses to leave the profession.

    Nurses report that insufficient staffing reduces the time they can spend with their patients, the quality of their work life, and the quality of patient care. According to a study in the October 2002 Journal of the American Medical Association, nurses reported greater job dissatisfaction and emotional exhaustion when they were responsible for more patients than they can safely care for.

  • High nurse turnover and vacancy rates are affecting access to health care.

    In September 2007, the American Journal of Nursing reported that Dr. Christine T. Kovner and colleagues found that 13% of newly licensed RNs had changed principal jobs after one year, and 37% reported that they felt ready to change jobs.

    In March 2005, the Bernard Hodes Group released the results of a national poll of 138 health care recruiters and found that the average RN turnover rate was 13.9%, the vacancy rate was 16.1%, and the average RN cost per hire was $2,821.

—Karen Centowski


Christmass Gifts

From November 17-20, 2016, the American Resource Group, Inc. conducted a telephone survey of 1,100 adults age 18 and older living in telephone households in the continental United States. The following five questions were asked:

What do you think you will spend on gifts thisChristmas?

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

Will you make any purchases through catalogs?

Will you make any purchases on the Internet?

When you purchase Christmas gifts this year, will you pay full price for the gifts or will you wait to see if the gifts go on sale?

According to the American Research Group, Inc. survey, shoppers planned to spend an average of $929 for Christmas gifts in 2016. A total of 36% of the shoppers planned to buy these gifts from catalogs and other direct marketers. 55% of the shoppers planned to make purchases on the Internet. While 22% of the shoppers said they planned to pay full price, 61% said they planned to wait until the items go on sale, and 17% said it would depend on the gifts.

Since the respondents were willing to spend that much money on Christmas gifts, let’s hope they chose meaningful and appropriate gifts. Let’s be honest. Some people have poor taste in choosing gifts for others. Would YOU give any of the following as Christmas gifts?

  • A box of Omaha grass fed beef steaks to a vegetarian
  • A bottle of Jack Daniels to a recovering alcoholic
  • A snow shovel to a resident of Florida
  • A bottle of White Diamonds to a woman allergic to perfume
  • A necklace with a cross to an atheist
  • A membership to a pool to someone who can’t swim
  • A size 20 dress to a woman who wears a size 14
  • A used toilet seat
  • A 20 gauge shotgun to a bird watcher
  • Membership in Weight Watchers to a girl who is anorexic
  • A can of nuts to a child with a peanut allergy
  • A climbing trip on Mount Everest to someone afraid of heights
  • A box of chocolates to a woman who is trying to lose weight
  • A Great Dane to a woman who lives in a small apartment

Let’s hope that next time these gift-givers use gift certificates/gift cards or cash

—Karen Centowski


Car Accident

Before you open your next six-month premium notice for your car, sit down. You are going to be shocked and dismayed at the new amount you will have to pay for insurance on your vehicle. The increases range from 10 percent to 25 percent and more.

Even if you have a clean driving record and have had no claims within the past three years, you can expect a significant rate increase. Why are premiums increasing so much?

Several factors are responsible for this increase in premiums. In an article called “Car Insurance Rates Are Going Up,” Consumer Reports explains it this way: “While the long-term trend shows that the number of accidents is declining, the average payout on the accidents that do occur is rising. From 2005 to 2013 (the latest data available), the number of claims for bodily injury fell 14.5 percent, according to the Insurance Research Council, yet the average cost per payout rose 32 percent, to more than $15,500.”

Another factor is the current financial climate of low interest rates. Insurance companies rely on their invested premiums to generate money. When interest rates are low, the return on the invested money is diminished. Therefore, the insurance company must increase premiums.

What can you do to reduce your premiums? If you are age 50 or older, you could take the AARP Safe Driver course either in a classroom or online. The price for the online class is $19.95 for AARP members or $24.95 for non-members. The online class is eight hours of instruction. The student has 60 days to complete the class.

According to the AARP Web site, you will learn

  • Important facts about the effects of medications on driving
  • How to reduce driver distractions
  • How to maintain proper following distance behind another car
  • Proper use of safety belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes, and new technology found in cars today
  • Techniques for handling left-turns, right-of-way, and roundabouts
  • Age-related physical changes and how to adjust your driving to compensate.

According to the AARP Web site, you could be eligible for a multi-year discount on your insurance premium on your car insurance by taking the class. A State Farm customer age 50 or older can reduce his premium by 15% by taking the class. Ask your own insurance carrier what discount is available.

Go to for more information.

—By Karen Centowski



When snow and ice cover the streets, your first impulse each morning is to crawl back under the covers. Who wants to think about shoveling the driveway or scraping ice off the windshield of a vehicle parked outside on the street? Who wants to sit in a cold car? Nevertheless, you have to go to work.

Maybe you could call in sick. What will you tell the boss? What excuse can you give? Could you lie and say your car won’t start? No, you’ve used that excuse before. Could you say you have a terrible fever? How high? You could say 109 degrees. You don’t know that the highest fever someone can have before suffering severe brain damage is 108. Your boss, a nursing supervisor, would know that.

Well, what other excuse could you use? Blame an insect. You could say, “I got stung by a bee.” No, don’t use that one. Remember your boss, the nursing supervisor, knows about allergic reactions and EpiPens. How about, “I think I have the swine flu.” Are you stupid? You are talking to a nurse! Try, “I have the hiccups.” No, not that excuse either. She will have a thousand cures for hiccups.

It might just be easier to go in to work. Besides, you don’t want to start the day lying to your boss. Even little kids know telling a lie is wrong. Don’t you remember chanting “Liar, liar, pants on fire. Nose as long as a telephone wire.”

AAA, formerly known as the American Automobile Association, recommends the following winter driving tips:

  • Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
  • Never run a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  • Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
  • Always look and steer where you want to go.
  • Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.

Tips for driving in the snow:

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning—nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS) and need to slow down quickly, press hard on the pedal. It’s normal for the pedal to vibrate a bit when the ABS is activated. In cars without ABS, use “threshold” braking, keeping your heel on the floorboard and using the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
  • Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.

To see a YouTube video by AAA, go to Tips for Safe Winter Driving at

PLEASE NOTE: If you are unable to access a video by using the link, type the name of the video into your search engine.

—Karen Centowski



Winter! If you live in or near Chicago, winter always means ice and snow. However, nothing can compare to the snowstorms of the winters of 1967, 1979, 1999, and 2011. In each of those snowstorms, more than twenty inches of snow fell. Cars were buried in the drifts. Streets were impassible. Trains provided limited service. Airports were shut down.

The Chicago Blizzard of 1967

When the snowstorm began in January of 1967, the weathermen were predicting four inches of snow. But it kept snowing for two days. By the time the snow stopped falling, twenty-three inches of snow lay on the ground. It was the largest single snowfall in the city’s history.

Thousands of people were stranded at work, in schools, in buses, at the airport. Approximately 50,000 abandoned cars and 800 Chicago Transit Authority buses clogged the streets and expressways. Looters broke store windows and stole merchandise.

Major Richard J. Daley, a powerful mayor who served five terms, told residents that the city plows would clear the arterial streets first and then the side streets. He appealed to the residents to help by shoveling out the cars abandoned in the middle of the streets so the plows could come through. As was tradition in residential areas, each resident shoveled out his own car and put a chair or two to mark his parking space as reserved.

The Blizzard of 1979

The blizzard of 1979, one of the worst snowstorms in Chicago’s history, affected northern Illinois and northwest Indiana as well. As in the blizzard of 1967, weather forecasters had predicted only two to four inches of snow. However, twenty-one inches of snow fell in two days. Wind gusts reached thirty-nine miles per hour. The total amount of snow on the ground by the end of the day on January 14, 1979 was twenty-nine inches.

Wikipedia’s article called “1979 Chicago Blizzard” describes the scene: “O’Hare Airport was closed and all flights grounded for 96 hours from January 13 to the 15. The cold weather and snowfall throughout the rest of January and February resulted in frozen tracks throughout the Chicago ‘L’ system. At that time, commuters crowded onto CTA buses, quickly overwhelming capacity, resulting in bus commutes usually taking 30 to 45 minutes taking up to several hours. To avoid huge snowdrifts in the streets, the overcrowded buses were obliged to take numerous detours, adding additional time to the commute.”

Mayor Michael Bilandic, who was running for re-election, lost to Jane Byrne. Part of his loss can be attributed to his administration’s poor response to the storm. Read “How the Blizzard of 1979 Cost the Election for Michael Bilandic” at http://www.chicagomag/com.

The North American Blizzard of 1999

A strong winter snowstorm struck the Midwestern states and portions of eastern Canada from January 2 through January 4, 1999. States which were hardest hit were Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio. Ontario and Quebec also received large amounts of snow. Chicago received a recorded 21.6 inches of snow.

The National Weather Service rated this storm as the second worst blizzard to hit Chicago in the 20th century. The Blizzard of 1967 was rated as the worst. Immediately following the snowstorm, temperatures dropped to -20 degrees Fahrenheit, a record low temperature in Chicago.

The impact of the storm was significant. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago was closed for the first time ever. Cars were left abandoned in the snow. Airports shut down. Highways were impassable. Rail service was halted or delayed.

Mayor Richard M. Daley, the son of the former mayor Richard J. Daley, reminded the city’s residents that this was a natural disaster. He urged citizens to help the city crews by digging out abandoned cars and shoveling sidewalks. Richard M. Daley was re-elected.

The 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard

A powerful and historic winter storm hit the North American continent January 31—February 2, 2011. The storm, which was estimated to affect 100 million people in the United States, brought cold air, heavy snowfall, blowing snow, and mixed precipitation. Thundersnow was recorded in downtown Chicago. A total of 21.1 inches of snow fell in Chicago during the blizzard. Winds of over 60 miles per hour were recorded during the blizzard.

There were numerous flight cancellations, airport closures, road closures, power outages, school closures, and business closures. Roofs collapsed because of the weight of the snow. Again, vehicles were stranded on Lake Shore Drive.

Mayor Richard M. Daley, who had been in office since 1989, did not seek a seventh term as mayor. On February 22, 2011, Rahm Emanuel was elected Mayor of Chicago.

To see a newsreel about the blizzard of 1967, go to Worst Blizzard in Chicago History, January 26, 1967 Universal Newsreel January 31, 1967. To see footage of the blizzards of 1967, 1979, and 1999 and commentary about the political impact of the blizzards, click on Chicago Blizzards VOA Television at the right of the screen.

 —By Karen Centowski