Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree, an American chain of discount variety stores, is a Fortune 500 company with 13,600 stores throughout the United States and Canada. All of the items within its stores are $1.00 or less. Merchandise ranges from greeting cards and Mylar balloons to paper towels and toilet tissue. Tools, Scotch tape, plastic bottles of soft drinks, pregnancy test kits, party supplies, children’s toys, picture frames, plastic storage containers, books for adults and children, reading glasses, cosmetics, and more things fill the shelves.

Going to Dollar Tree is an experience like going to a garage sale or to a flea market or to Maxwell Street in Chicago. You may find some interesting things, but you have to be a smart shopper.

How does the store manage to sell its merchandise for just a dollar? There are a number of factors.

Some of the merchandise is made in China. Look at the spools of ribbon in the craft section. The country of origin is clearly marked. The same applies to the Halloween buckets, plastic Easter egg baskets, woven baskets, artificial flowers, and large and small storage containers.

The product may be of inferior quality. The 2.5-inch wide wire-edged ribbon may have been twisted when it was wound on the cardboard spool, or the wire may be sticking out of the edge of the ribbon. The dishwashing liquid may not have met factory specifications to be sold as the name brand. The tools may be fine for limited use, but they are not as strong and well-made as name brand tools.

The package may be smaller than usual. Instead of twenty Ziplock bags in the box, there are seven. The box of two Scotch Transparent Tape rolls contains fewer inches of tape per roll than regular Scotch tape rolls. The packages of ball point pens contain fewer pens than you would find at an office supply store or Osco. Even the chewing gum is repackaged into smaller packets.

Many of the products are knock-offs. Cake mix, soft drinks, paper towels, toilet tissue, and many other products at Dollar Tree sound like the name brand item, but they are not. Buy your soft drinks in plastic bottles at the grocery store when they are on sale. You will actually pay less per ounce than you would at Dollar Tree.

Think a no-frills experience. A limited number of employees within the store. One or two cashiers scanning your purchases. No Customer Service Desk. No special orders. No automatic entrance and exit doors.

Cleanliness and neatness varies from store to store. One store has old, stained carpeting while another has sparkling clean vinyl floors. The merchandise in one store may look like hogs have rooted through the shelves and displays. Another store has items neatly stacked and cleverly displayed.

Can you get some good buys? Certainly. American Greetings cards are $1.00. Compare that to a greeting card from Hallmark. Craft supplies are a steal compared to craft supplies at Michaels. Party supplies including paper plates, napkins, tablecloths, wrapping paper, and gift bags are just $1.00 per package. Best-selling books for adults and coloring books for children are $1.00. Why pay more?

By Karen Centowski


Private Duty Nurse

How many nurses do you think there were in the United States in April of 2017? Include only RNs and LPNs in your guess. What would you say? Two million? Three million? Four million? More than that?

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently published a report containing the answer to the question. According to, there were 4,148,730 nurses in the United States in 2017. Of these 3,316,111 were Registered Nurses (RNs), and 832,619 were Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs). There were also 1,534,400 Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs).

Now try to name fifteen places where nurses work. You know nurses work in hospitals, nursing homes, medical offices, ambulatory care centers, community health centers, schools, and retail clinics. Don’t forget camps, homeless shelters, prisons, birth centers, sporting events, and tourist destinations. Nurses with advanced degrees work in research, colleges, and universities. Of course, many nurses work in HOMES as private duty nurses.

Some nurses who work in homes as private duty nurses are hired directly by the patient or family. Others work for agencies such as American Home Health. Who chooses to become a private duty nurse? What qualities must the private duty nurse possess?

In addition to excellent clinical skills, a private duty nurse must possess a number of other skills. For example, she must have the ability to work independently. She must be dependable and reliable. Since she will be going to the home of the client, she must have access to private or public transportation. The nurse must be able to respect and adapt to attitudes of different cultures. She must have good verbal skills in order to communicate with both the client and other family members. She must have the ability to write clear, concise, and legible clinical notes every two hours during her shift.

Many nurses who currently work for agencies had worked for years in hospitals and nursing homes. They have excellent clinical skills and are looking for a slower pace. They are seeking an opportunity to work one-on-one for an extended period of time with one child or one adult.

How do nurses learn about American Home Health as a potential employer? Below are some methods used to recruit nurses:

  • Word of mouth
  • Referrals by current employees. May include a referral bonus.
  • Sign-on bonus
  • Job fairs (e.g., Chicago MEGA Nursing and Healthcare Career Fair at Drury Lane, Oakbrook, Illinois)
  • Online job posting (e.g.,
  • Help wanted ads in local newspapers
  • Direct mail to nurses licensed in Illinois
  • Agency web site (
  • Mergers between home health agencies

—By Karen Centowski



What fun and creative things can an American Home Health pediatric private duty nurse do with a child? Think about it. A whole world exists outside the walls of the house or apartment. With the permission of a parent, a nurse can take a child outside for a walk or to the neighborhood playground or even to a movie theater.

Almost every child old enough to walk loves to be outside. This provides not only a chance to take a break from the indoor routine but also to explore the sights and sounds of nature. Take a walk in the neighborhood. Explore the outdoors.

Encourage a young child to listen for animal sounds. If you say, “I hear puppy barking. What does puppy say?” The child will answer, “Woof, woof.” If you say, “I hear birds singing. What do the birds say?” The child will answer, “Tweet, tweet.” Any child who has a Fisher-Price See ‘n Say The Farmer Says Toy will already know the recorded sounds of many farm animals. Now’s an opportunity to hear the sounds of animals in the neighborhood.

Encourage the child to look for animals in the yards and trees. It is easy to find dogs and cats. With a little luck, you will find rabbits and squirrels. Stop to watch the animals. It is amazing to see a squirrel’s nest high up in the trees or to watch a squirrel come scampering down the trunk of a tree. Cottontail rabbits are common in yards and gardens in Illinois. You might even come upon a rabbit’s nest with baby bunnies. Look for nests in safe, sheltered places such as under a bush or in a crevice between rocks or even in a hollow log.

Young children are fascinated by things they find on these walks. Pinecones of various sizes, leaves, flowers, insects, and worms interest them. You’ll probably have to have a standard rule of “Look, but don’t touch.”

Make an exception for leaves from trees. Collecting leaves can be fun and educational. An older child can even press colorful leaves between pages of a book or catalog. Then the child can learn to identify the type of tree by studying its leaf.

When you were a child, did you ever use colored chalk to draw pictures on sidewalks? Do you remember playing hopscotch on the sidewalk? Perhaps you remember sitting on the steps of the front porch blowing bubbles. These old-fashioned pastimes still delight children today.

Have you ever laid on the grass on a sunny day and watched the clouds? You and the child can do this, too. The two of you can talk about what you see. Do the clouds look like mashed potatoes? Are they moving across the sky? You might even try having the child draw a picture of the clouds in the sky.

If you have a grand old movie theater within walking distance, you might be able to take an older child to an afternoon matinee. Whether you are a child or an adult, there’s nothing like seeing a Walt Disney classic on a big screen.

Outdoor activities will give your client a change of scenery and enrich his life. Try it. I guarantee that a few days later the child will ask you, “Can we go outside?”

By Karen Centowski