Triage means "sorting out" -- and a telephone triage nurse (TTN) is a registered nurse who assesses problems over the phone. Although some telephone triage nurses work exclusively in call centers and perform no other nursing tasks, other nurses include telephone triage as one task among many others. Telephone triage might occur in hospital emergency rooms, as well as in doctors’ offices and at clinics. It's an important task that requires good clinical judgment, careful listening, critical thinking and assessment skills.

Telephone triage nurses may be able to find employment in their sub specialty field in a number of different settings. The most common place you will find telephone triage nurses employed is at dedicated telephone triage service centers.

Additional settings that telephone triage nurses may find employment in their sub-specialty include:

  • Physician offices

  • Hospitals

  • Trauma centers

  • Crisis hotlines

  • Outpatient care facilities

  • Poison control centers

Core competencies/skills needed
■ Critical thinking skills
■ Ability to determine the problem within the first few sentences of a conversation; a certain intuitive ability can be useful in assessing the situation and making the correct decision for the patient
■ Superior verbal communication skills are essential
■ Strong assessment skills
■ Excellent clinical skills
■ Crisis intervention skills
■ Typing and computer ability to keep track of information gathered during the telephone conversation
■ Teaching ability, as patients may require instruction for self-care and/or symptom management
■ Ability to remain calm in high-stress situations

Duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Accept telephone calls from patients with varying levels of acuity and types of medical concerns

  • Promote clear and coherent verbal communication following an appropriate line of questioning

  • Assess clients based on the patient’s own evaluation, concerns, and responses to questions.

  • Make medical appointments and referrals to physicians, community resources, specialists, or other agencies.

  • Create a nursing care plan with appropriate follow-up steps.

  • Utilize electronic charting to access patient records remotely and to review a database of possible conditions, relatable signs and symptoms, and evidence-based treatments.

  • Determine the necessary follow-up for medical diagnoses and symptoms over the phone.

  • Provide clear patient information, thorough patient education, and recommendations for the next steps to take.

  • Evaluate the significance of the patient’s concern over the form, determine if emergency care is needed, if a medical appointment should be made, or if the concern should be reported to the appropriate physician.

Minimum qualifications/requirements:

  • 8+ months of recent RN experience in triaging patients

  • Current BLS

  • Current TB Screen

  • Active/Unencumbered State Nursing license

  • Valid Photo Identification/Driver's License

  • Successful completion of a Background Check and Medely's screening process

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