What is a Telephone Triage Nurse?

A telephone triage nurse is responsible for assisting patients who may need medical care or advice over the phone.

These nurses ask potential patients specific questions to assess their condition and determine possible medical ailments.

They also direct patients to the patient the correct healthcare provider or facility to receive essential medical care.

Telephone triage nurses evaluate a patient’s medical history through existing patient digital medical records.

It enables them to better assess the patient’s condition and recommend procedures and suitable healthcare professionals.

What Do Telephone Triage Nurses Do?

Telephone triage nurses manage numerous duties to assist patients via phone, video, or other communication devices.

It includes assessing the patient’s medical condition over the phone and determining whether they need additional care.

These specialists ask questions to evaluate the patient’s health and direct patients to the correct medical facility.

It allows the patient to receive appropriate medical care.

Telephone triage nurses also provide medical knowledge and expertise to help patients alleviate their symptoms.

In cases where patients require additional care, triage nurses will schedule their appointments.

It enables the healthcare facility and professionals to respond quickly and understand the patient’s needs.

Telephone Triage Nurse Duties:

  • Provide consultation to patients via phone, video, etc.
  • Educate patients about treating their conditions
  • Determine the severity of their condition
  • Decide whether the patient requires medical care
  • Schedule appointments with physicians, if needed
  • Direct patients to appropriate healthcare providers
  • Provide medical advice for minor health issues
  • Liaison between the patient and healthcare provider
  • Gather vital patient health data

Where Do Telephone Triage Nurses Work?

Triage nurses work in various healthcare environments to accommodate patients’ medical needs.

It includes clinics, hospitals, physician offices, case management services, telephone triage centers, telephone triage centers, outpatient care facilities, trauma centers, and healthcare services.

Some triage nurses operate from home, utilizing their work phones and computer to assist patients virtually.

Telephone triage is one of the most popular work-from-home jobs for nurses due to its flexibility and freedom.

Triage Nurse Work Settings:

  • Local clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Physician offices
  • Case management services
  • Telephone triage centers
  • Outpatient care facilities 
  • Trauma centers
  • Healthcare services

Triage nurses provide medical assistance via phone, video, or other virtual communication methods.

It enables them to operate remotely or within a healthcare facility, depending on the needs of their employer.

Many healthcare facilities operate 24/7 to accommodate patients’ needs and manage emergencies.

As a result, many triage nurse services operate morning, noon, and night to ensure patients receive support at all times. 

Necessary Skills

Triage nurses are often the first medical professional’s consult patients.

As a result, they must understand how to adequately assess a patient’s condition and provide valuable answers and advice.

They must also be highly educated and have adequate experience treating patients affected by numerous health issues.

The following section explores the necessary skills telephone triage nurses must possess to manage their duties effectively.

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Team oriented mindset
  • Technologically proficient
  • Excellent assessment and evaluation skills

Interpersonal Communication

Excellent interpersonal communication skills are essential in the telephone triage nursing profession.

These specialists provide medical care, support, and advice via phone, video teleconferencing, or other communication technologies.

As a result, they must understand how to communicate effectively by asking great questions, ensuring patients understand their answers, and acting as a liaison between the patient and healthcare providers.

Team Oriented Mindset

Numerous telephone triage nurses work from home, at a desk, or in a telephone triage center.

However, they frequently manage patient scheduling, medical care, and health data with various healthcare professionals.

It includes physicians, registered nurses, physical therapists, and other specialists.

Therefore, telephone triage nurses must be team oriented to ensure healthcare specialists can treat their patients adequately.

Technologically Proficient

Telephone triage nurses utilize various communication technologies to assist patients, update records, schedule appointments, and manage healthcare data.

As a result, they must be technologically skilled in communication and healthcare technologies, software, and systems.

It’s also essential to remain updated on the latest technologies, procedures, and healthcare practices to ensure patients receive adequate care.

Excellent Assessment and Evaluation Skills

Telephone triage nurses assess their patient’s healthcare conditions over the phone or via video telecommunication.

Therefore, these professionals must understand how to evaluate their patients without in-person consultations.

It requires knowing how to ask appropriate questions and adequately understand various illnesses, injuries, and diseases.

They must also review the patient’s medical histories to determine the potential causes of their ailments.

How to Become a Telephone Triage Nurse

Becoming a telephone triage nurse is relatively straightforward for those pursuing careers in healthcare.

However, aspiring telephone triage nurses must complete several steps to obtain careers in this domain.

It includes acquiring an ADN or BSN degree, passing the NCLEX-RN, gaining job experience, and obtaining certification.

The following section covers each step needed to become a triage nurse.

1. Complete Nursing School

The first step to becoming a telephone triage nurse is to complete a nursing school program.

The nursing school program offers students a two-year ADN or four-year BSN degree.

Acquiring a two-year ADN degree enables students to enter entry-level nursing jobs quickly.

It’s fantastic for those who want to start earning money and develop career experience.

It’s also beneficial for those unsure whether nursing is the right career choice.

However, registered nurses pursuing advanced roles and career specializations will want to acquire a BSN degree.

The BSN program takes four years to complete (three years for accelerated programs) and provides a more comprehensive education.

To enter nursing school, students must complete numerous prerequisite courses through college.

They must also maintain the required GPA set by the nursing school.

Once in the program, students will spend several years developing their education and training to become registered nurses. 

2. Pass the NCLEX-RN

At the end of the nursing program, students must complete a state licensing exam known as the NCLEX-RN.

This test ensures students have the knowledge and skills necessary to operate as licensed healthcare professionals.

Students must also pay state licensing fees and other costs to obtain licensure and begin working as registered nurses.

3. Aquire Work Experience

Registered nurses spend several years in bedside care before taking the certification to become telephone triage nurses.

It enables them to learn about the medical field, properly assess patients and perform triage.

It also helps them develop vital social skills to identify health issues and effectively communicate with patients and staff.

Most hospitals and healthcare facilities have strict requirements to ensure that triage nurses answer questions adequately.

They also must ensure that triage nurses provide practical medical advice to assist patients with their medical needs.

Obtaining experience in emergency room care or intensive care nursing is highly beneficial.

4. Get Certified

After acquiring adequate experience, registered nurses may want to obtain certification in a relevant field.

There is no specific certification for those who want to become telephone triage nurses.

However, options are available to provide nurses with sufficient education and certification.

Many telephone triage nurses pursue the Ambulatory Care Nursing Certification.

This certificate overlaps many of the routine duties and responsibilities telephone triage nurses perform.

As a result, it’s beneficial for those pursuing telephone triage nurse jobs.

It’s important to mention that not all employees or job listings require specific certifications.

Some nurses may apply for telephone triage jobs after acquiring several years of emergency/critical care experience.

Therefoe, you’ll want to determine whether obtaining certication is neccessary or beneficial.