John D. Shier, RN, PhD

John Shier is a Registered Nurse and Doctor of Philosophy who entered the profession of nursing at the young age of sixty and after having two prior successful careers.

Prior to his nursing career and his work as "ThatGuyNurse," John was an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay for fourteen years. John also served eighteen years as the Executive Director of the Lake Michigan Area Agency on Aging as well as providing leadership as the Executive Director of the United Way of Brown County.

Contact John…

John D. Shier RN, Ph.D.
2790 Elm Tree Hill
Apt. 330
Green Bay, WI 54313

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Archive for the ‘Living Healthy’ Category

To Screen or Not to Screen for Breast and Prostate Cancer?

Controversial recent studies concerning mammography to detect breast cancer and PSA (prostate
specific antigen) tests for prostate cancer have suggested that these
procedures often cause more harm than help and that they generally do not
prolong life. Inaccurate and often incomplete media coverage of these studies
has led to widespread confusion as to exactly what they recommend.

The United States Preventive Service Taskforce (USPST) concludes that for men
younger than age 75 years, the benefits of screening for prostate cancer are
uncertain and the balance of benefits and harms cannot be determined.

For men 75 years or older, there is moderate certainty that the harms of screening
for prostate cancer outweigh the benefits.

The USPST also states that for women 40-74 years old: evidence indicates that biennial mammogram screening is
optimal. A biennial schedule preserves most of the benefit of annual screening
and cuts the harms nearly in half. A longer interval may reduce the benefit.

So the question remains; should women have annual mammograms?  If there is no
family history of breast cancer, how often should they have mammograms? Given new
technologies for doing mammograms, which technology should be employed?

Likewise, when should men begin to have PSA tests?  Who should have
them.  How can one balance the values of
the PSA versus its dangers?

Professional patients do not just take their doctor’s recommendations.  They
seek information on the best and latest research. They become well enough
informed to be able to have a dialogue with their doctor through which they can
come to an informed decision as to whether or not to undergo either of these

The United States Preventive Services Taskforce is an excellent source of information on these matters.  Its views and recommendations can be found at

Check it out and then decide. That’s what professionals do.


A Generational Difference?

Recently a friend and I decided to kayak the lakes of Madison, Wisconsin. We were both well into our seventies.    We launched our sea kayaks on Lake Mendota. We paddled the shoreline to the locks on the Yahara river.  Then down the Yahara to Lake Monona and across Lake  Monona to Lake Waubesa. We returned to our put-in by the same route. During the entire trip we did not see another kayak or canoe.
The lakes were, however, crowded with power boats of all sizes and shapes.  Most were designed for cruising and able to carry as many as ten or twenty people.  There were inboard-outboards.  There were inboard cruisers. There were literally hundreds of powerboats sailing on the lakes.  They created large cross-swells with their wakes.  We had to constantly adjust our paddling to avoid being swamped or overturned. The great majority of those boats were carrying young people; people in their twenties and thirties and a few older than that.  Almost all the boats carried  kegs of beer and other party supplies.  They were having a great time.
As we transited the lock on our return trip my friend, a recently retired cardiologist, commented, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

Family History; Why It’s So Important

Imagine that you are walking through a swamp. It’s midnight. It’s foggy. There is no moon. You don’t know where the alligators are. I won’t go into the swamp unless I know where the alligators are. Do you have the cholesterol alligator? The depression alligator? The cancer alligators? The diabetes alligator? The high blood pressure alligator? The heart disease alligator?

There are lots of alligators that may be living in your swamp. Your family history gives you insight into the ones you may have to deal with. So, begin by researching your family history; parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins and, if possible, grandparents and great aunts and uncles. The more information you can get, the better off you will be. Then you and your doctor can begin to design your personal plan for preventive maintenance; for early detection and diagnosis.