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Career Definition and Educational Requirements of a Telephone Triage Nurse
There are many different career paths within the field of nursing. One more recent position in nursing is the job of a telephone triage nurse. A telephone triage nurse provides care to patients in much the same way as a traditional nurse, except they do so over the phone. They are responsible for answering patient phone calls, listening to patients describe their medical problems or ailments, and deciding whether or not their problem warrants a trip to the hospital or doctor's office. In addition, telephone triage nurses are able to access a patient's medical information online, so they are able to provide the most accurate and helpful information possible. Because telephone triage nurses are unable to assess a patient in person, it is crucial for these nurses to be highly knowledgeable in order to ask the right questions and respond appropriately.
Telephone triage nurses play an important role in the medical field, as they are able to provide expert medical care and advice to patients who may live very far from medical treatment facilities. In addition, they help reduce congestion and wait time in hospitals, emergency rooms, and doctors' offices by helping patients determine whether their medical problem requires the in-person attention of a doctor. This makes it possible for patients who have very serious or life-threatening problems to see a doctor more quickly.
|Educational Requirements||Associate's or bachelor's degree|
|Job Skills||Communication skills, problem solving, decision making, active listening, composure|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$71,794|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)**||15% (for all registered nurses)|
Sources: *Salary.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Required Education & Training
Telephone triage nurses are required to either obtain an associate's degree in nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Some nurses choose to obtain their associate's degree first in order to begin working before completing their bachelor's degree program. In addition to degree requirements, nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN examination in order to become licensed registered nurses. After gaining enough working hours, nurses are able to apply for various certifications, though no specific certification may be required to work as a telephone triage nurse.
As a telephone triage nurse, you will primarily be communicating with patients over the phone. Because of this, it is highly important that these nurses have excellent communication and listening skills. In addition, it is necessary for telephone triage nurses to be able to make decisions quickly while remaining calm, as patients on the phone may sometimes be experiencing stress or heightened emotions. Telephone nurses must also be knowledgeable about a wide range of medical problems and be able to communicate their knowledge effectively.
Career and Salary Outlook
As of 2018, the median salary for telephone triage nurses was $71,794 annually, according to Salary.com. The bottom ten percent of workers in this field earned a median salary of $59,786 annually while the top ten percent earned $89,752. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the field of nursing in general will grow by 15% between the years 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations of 7%.
For individuals who are considering pursuing a career as a telephone triage nurse, there are a few similar options that they may want to consider, both within the field of nursing and outside of it.