Telephone Triage Nurse

What Is a Telephone Triage Nurse?

Telephone triage nurses (TTNs), also known telehealth or telepathology nurses, are licensed RNs who help to assess needs of patients - over the phone or by video chat - who are not able to reach a hospital or doctor's office to determine the precise level of care that they need. The specialty was designed to assist those who either don't have a primary care physician, live in a rural area without close proximity to medical care, or for those who struggle to pay for medical services. Dissimilar to other kinds of nursing specialties, TTNs must be able to assist patients in determining their state of health purely be speaking with them. These nurses are trained to probe patients with highly specific questions in order to accurately assess their condition and refer them to the proper healthcare professional. TTNs also help physicians to reduce patient loads, waiting times, and to eliminate overcrowding by remotely assisting patients with minor health problems so that they can save expensive and time-consuming visits to the doctor's office. Because most telephone triage nursing services are available to patients around the clock, TTNs often work strange hours and take on night shifts.

What Are Some Telephone Triage Nurse Duties?

Duties carried out by telephone triage nurses may include:

  • Help and consult with patients over the phone or by video chat
  • Gather pertinent information on each patient like age, weight, height, etc.
  • Instruct patients how they can manage their symptoms
  • Assess the severity of a patient's condition quickly and recommend the required level of care based on the collected information
  • Stay current on the latest medical record technology
  • Assist medical response teams in admitting patients into hospitals and other health centers
  • Schedule appointments
  • Refer patients to specialists

Where do Telephone Triage Nurses work?

Telephone triage nurses may work from home, and/or find employment with the following:

  • Crisis hotlines
  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Trauma centers
  • Community health clinics
  • Physicians' offices
  • Poison control centers
  • Telephone triage service centers

How to Become a Telephone Triage Nurse

It cannot be understated that those who pursue careers as telephone triage nurses should possess exceptional communication skills, along with the ability to think quickly while under pressure. Telephone triage nurses need to be able to listen carefully to patients, evaluate their situations quickly, and communicate back to them the proper care that they require. An RN degree, clinical experience, and exceptional deductive skills are needed to find success in this role.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

Future telephone triage nurses will first need to earn a 2-year ADN or 4-year BSN degree from an accredited institution. Today, BSN degrees are increasingly preferred by employers. Once you have finished your nursing degree, your next task is to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and then become licensed as a registered nurse. The final step before becoming a certifiied is to gain some clinical experience in the field as an RN.

Do Telephone Triage Nurse Need an RN Degree?

Yes, telephone triage nurses need to have active and unrestricted RN licenses in order to practice. They should also have a bit of experience in a clinical setting in the field in order to be eligible for the certification which is offered by the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing.

Step 2: Required Telephone Triage Nurse Certifications/Credentials

Up until 2007, telephone triage nurses became certified by the National Certification Corporation. Today, however, professionals in telephone triage nursing who are looking for some kind of certification are advised to obtain an ambulatory care nursing certification through the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing.

In order to be eligible for the ambulatory care nurse certification through the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing, you will need the following requirements:

  • An active and unrestricted RN license
  • No less than 2,00 hours of nursing experience in a clinical setting.

Telephone Triage Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

With the development of new technological advancements, the field of telemedicine and telehealth is sure to expand in the years to come. Telephone triage nurses can expect their field to expand and perhaps their jobs made easier as telemedicine and e-health develop.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Exceptional communication skills, ability to think quickly, independent, compassionate and empathetic, strong listening skills, capable of in-depth assessment, structured, able to follow routines, able take on a variety of tasks throughout the day
  • Job Outlook - The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job openings for RNs will rise by 16% between the years 2014 and 2024. This is a much higher rate than the average for the vast majority of occupations. Those in the TTN field are likely to see a similar rise in the availability of jobs as those in the traditional RN sector.

What Is the Average Salary of a Telephone Triage Nurse?

According to ZipRecruiter, telephone triage nurses earn median annual salaries of approximately $55,457. This figure, however, will vary and depend on factors like city and state of employment, years of experience in the field, level of education and credentials, and of course the employing organization. Most employed TTNs can also expect employee benefits packages from their respective employers with medical and dental coverage, as well as some paid time off annually.

How Much Do Telephone Triage Nurses Make per Year?

  • $42,500 – $66,500 annually

How Much Do Telephone Triage Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $27.00 average hourly wage

Telephone Triage Nurse Resources