FIND NP PROGRAMS
FIND NP PROGRAMS
Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
If you are on the fence about becoming a telephone triage nurse, then this article is for you. As a telephone triage nurse, you can never be too prepared. You need to have a strong knowledge of medical conditions, treatment modalities, and the ability to stay calm under pressure.
A telephone triage nurse sounds like a pretty important job, right? Well, it is—and that is why it comes with both pros and cons. Do you know what are the pros and cons of being a telephone triage nurse? If not, well, I am here to help educate you. Below you will find the top 10 pros and cons of being a telephone triage nurse. These pros and cons will help you determine if this career will be worth you pursuing.
What Does A Telephone Triage Nurse Do?
So, I am sure you want to know, what does a telephone triage nurse do? Well, I will tell you!
A telephone triage nurse is a nurse who provides over-the-phone medical advice and guidance to patients from all walks of life. A telephone triage nurse provides support and guidance to patients regarding their medical concerns. They work with the patient to help determine the best course of action for their unique situation. This may include providing education on self-care, making referrals to other healthcare providers, or arranging for further testing or treatment.
Telephone triage nurses use their clinical skills and knowledge to assess the patient's symptoms and make recommendations accordingly. They must be able to quickly and accurately assess the situation and provide guidance in the patient's best interest.
Where Does A Telephone Triage Nurse Work?
When you decide to become a telephone triage nurse, you will find that you have many options as to where you can work.
You will find telephone triage nurses working in the office setting of a hospital and other healthcare facilities. Still, there are also many opportunities to work in other settings. You could work for a health insurance company. Here you would be helping people with their coverage or medical care questions.
You could also work for a pharmaceutical company, providing information about new drugs or treatments.
There are also many opportunities to work in private practices, assisting physicians with their patients' needs.
Telephone triage nurses can also work from the comfort of their own homes.
Other agencies that hire telephone triage nurses are crisis centers, trauma centers, and poison control centers.
No matter where you work, though, the most important thing is to provide excellent customer service and help people when they need it most.
What Are The Typical Working Hours Of A Telephone Triage Nurse?
The typical work hours for a telephone triage nurse are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., although some nurse triage lines are open 24 hours a day. Telephone triage nurses who work the night shift often have different hours, as do telephone triage nurses who work on weekends or holidays. Of course, there may be times when a telephone triage nurse needs to work outside of these hours due to an emergency or other situation.
What Are The Important Skills Required To Work As A Telephone Triage Nurse?
Becoming a telephone triage nurse will require that you possess some essential skills. These skills are necessary in order to provide the best care possible for patients over the phone. Here are some of the skills you will need to work as a telephone triage nurse.
You will need to have the ability to assess a situation quickly. This means that you need to be able to gather information from the patient and make a diagnosis based on that information.
You also need to have excellent communication skills. This is because you will be speaking with patients and their families, and you need to communicate effectively to get the information you need.
In addition, you'll need to be able to work independently since you may be working remotely. Finally, it is essential to have a strong knowledge of medical terminology and disease processes. This will help you to make accurate diagnoses when speaking with patients.
Other skills that are important to have as a telephone triage nurse are good time management skills and the ability to multitask. This is because you will often be speaking with several patients simultaneously, and you need to be able to keep track of each conversation.
How Much Does A Telephone Triage Nurse Make?
So, I bet you wonder what the salary is like for a telephone triage nurse. I mean, this is probably one of the major determinants in deciding if this career is for you. The average annual salary for a telephone nurse triage nurse is $84,010 a year. This annual salary will break down to $40.39 an hour or $7,000 a month.
Suppose you have just started in this career. In that case, the starting salary of a telephone triage nurse will have you earning an hourly salary of $27.79 an hour or a monthly income of $4,820. These figures will have you earning a yearly salary of $57,810.
Telephone triage nurse salary per hour for a nurse with one to four years of experience is $30.25. This equates to a monthly salary of $5,240 or an annual salary of $62,930.
Telephone triage nurse salary per hour for a nurse who has five to nine years of experience is $36.86 or $6,390 a month. This means that you will have an annual income of $76,660.
When you have an experience level of ten to nineteen years, you can expect to earn around $95,420 a year. This will break down to approximately $45.88 an hour or $7,950 a month.
The salary for a telephone triage nurse who has twenty or more years of experience is $122,130. That is quite an income! This means you will have a monthly salary of $10,180 or an hourly wage of $58.72.
|Level of Experience
|1-4 Years of Experience
|5-9 Years of Experience
|10-19 Years of Experience
|20 Years or More Experience
Is There A Demand For Telephone Triage Nurses?
When you are deciding on a career, choosing one that is in demand is an important aspect. A career as a telephone triage nurse is currently in demand. It is expected to grow even more in the coming years.
One reason that telephone triage nurses are in demand is that they can provide care for a large number of patients without having to see them in person. This is especially important in today’s climate when we are trying to limit the spread of disease.
Another reason that telephone triage nurses are in demand is that they can provide care for patients who may not be able to access care in person. This may be due to illness, age-related aspects, or injury.
The third reason telephone triage nurses are in such high demand is that they offer a more cost-effective way to provide care for patients. This is especially important in the current economy, where many people struggle financially.
5 Steps To Becoming A Telephone Triage Nurse
1.The first step to becoming a telephone triage nurse is earning a degree in nursing. There are different routes you can take. The first way to become a nurse is by earning an associate's degree in nursing. The second would be by earning your bachelor’s degree in nursing. Keep in mind specific jobs may require a bachelor’s degree over associates.
2.The next step to becoming a telephone triage nurse is to pass the National Certification Licensure Exam or NCLEX.
3.Once you pass the NCLEX, you will be required to obtain a license. You may need to obtain a specific state license, or you may be required to obtain a compact license. This will be dictated by your job.
4.Although working bedside is not a mandatory action to take on the road to being a telephone triage nurse, it is a wise one. Usually, a minimum of two years in bedside nursing is required. Most nurses in these positions have experience in the emergency room or intensive care nursing.
5.Earning certification is also not mandatory but could be a smart career move. Although there is no specific certification for telephone triage nurses, many telephone triage nurses earn their ambulatory care nursing certification.
TOP CONS OF BEING A TELEPHONE TRIAGE NURSE
(The following are the top 10 disadvantages of being a Telephone Triage Nurse.)
1.Your assessment relies on what the patient tells you.
One of the top disadvantages of being a telephone triage nurse is that as a telephone triage nurse, your assessment relies heavily on what the patient tells you. This means that you have to be good at listening and have a great deal of medical knowledge to ask the right questions. It can be challenging to get all of the information you need from a patient who is speaking through a phone, and it is even harder to determine what is an emergency and what is not. This can lead to some pretty serious consequences if you make the wrong decision.
2.You never have closure.
As a telephone triage nurse, you will never have closure. This means that you will never know for sure what happens to the patient after you have given them advice over the phone. This can be a negative thing, as it can leave you feeling uncertain and anxious about whether or not you did the right thing.
3.You must have experience.
Now, suppose you have just graduated from nursing school, and you have always dreamed about being a telephone triage nurse, well, in that case, I am going to have to burst your bubble. Most new grads do not have the necessary experience to work in this field. Even if you happened to do a clinical rotation in telephone triage, it is not enough.
One of the biggest disadvantages of being a telephone triage nurse is that you probably will not get hired without bedside experience. This is because most telephone triage companies want nurses who are comfortable working directly with patients and have seen many common ailments in person. The nurse with critical care experience and emergency room experience is often preferred.
4.One word, liability
Another one of the disadvantages of being a telephone triage nurse is the amount of liability you will have. This is because you will be giving advice to patients over the phone, and if something goes wrong, you could be held liable. For this reason, it is essential to be very knowledgeable about the condition you are treating and always give accurate information. I hope you have your malpractice insurance.
5.A person cannot see your facial expression.
One of the cons of becoming a telephone triage nurse is that people cannot see your facial expression over the phone. This can lead to people misunderstanding what you are saying and having an adverse reaction to it and you. People may interpret that you are being rude or dismissive when they are seeking help.
6.You may be woken up in the middle of the night.
As a telephone triage nurse, you may be woken up in the middle of the night. This is because you are the first line of defense for patients who need medical attention. Being woken up multiple times during the night and numerous nights in a row can really take a toll on you. Your daily life may begin to suffer. You may find it hard to get up in the morning, and you may not have the energy to do anything else during the day. You may also find that your work performance begins to suffer.
7.Your holiday meal may be interrupted.
Another one of the disadvantages of being a telephone triage nurse is that your holidays may be interrupted. This is because people always need medical advice, even during the holidays. So, if you are hoping to get some time off during the holiday season, you may need to be prepared for the possibility that your phone will ring and you will have to take a call. This can be frustrating, but it is also a part of the job. So, if you are hoping to take some time off during the holiday season, be prepared for the possibility that your phone may ring.
8.People can be mean.
When you start working as a telephone triage nurse, you will learn that people can be mean. You will get calls from angry, frustrated, and even hostile people. This can be frustrating day after day when you are just trying to help people.
9. You may need to supply your own equipment
One of the downsides of being a telephone triage nurse that works from home is that you may need to supply your own equipment, such as a computer, internet connection, and phone. You will also need a headset, fax machine, and other office supplies. While you can often find discounts on these items, it can still be a significant expense. If you want to work from home, make sure you have the start-up costs covered before you make the leap.
10. Hope you do not make the wrong call
As a telephone triage nurse, you better hope you make the right call. If you are wrong, a patient could die. This is a high-stakes job and one that requires a great deal of knowledge and experience. You need to be able to quickly assess a situation and make the right call. Otherwise, you could be responsible for someone's death. For example, if a patient calls the nurse triage line because they feel they are having indigestion and you believe them. You choose not to investigate any further. Well, what if this patient is actually having a heart attack and never gets medical attention. They may die. That is a lot to hang over your head. And it is not an uncommon scenario.
TOP PROS OF BEING A TELEPHONE TRIAGE NURSE
(The following are the top 10 advantages of being a Telephone Triage Nurse.)
1.You will make an excellent salary.
One of the top pros of being a telephone triage nurse is that you will make an excellent salary. Your average salary for this career is $84,010 a year. This is a field where experience definitely pays off, so the longer you stay in the profession, the more your salary will reflect that. Plus, there are always opportunities to pick up extra shifts or work overtime, which can really add up over time. So, if you are looking for a stable career with good earning potential, telephone triage nursing is definitely worth considering.
2.You do not have to touch patients.
As a telephone triage nurse, you will never have to touch a patient. You will be able to help people from the comfort of your own home or office, and you will never have to worry about vomiting patients or patients with wounds. You will be able to help people with a variety of issues, and you will be able to provide them with the assistance they need. So, if you are looking for a career that is rewarding and exciting, then consider becoming a telephone triage nurse.
3.You only will have one patient at a time.
When you are a bedside nurse, you may have to juggle multiple patients at a time. Well, not when you are a telephone triage nurse. You will only have to work with one patient at a time. This means that you can focus all of your attention on them and their specific case, which is excellent news for both you and the patient. So, if you are interested in becoming a telephone triage nurse, know that you will only have to focus on one patient at a time.
4.You will not be exposed to pathogens.
One of the biggest advantages of being a telephone triage nurse is that you will not be exposed to any pathogens. This means that you can rest assured that you are safe from any dangerous illnesses. While you may still come into contact with sick people, you will not be exposed to any of their germs. This is a huge benefit, especially for those who are immunocompromised or have other health conditions that make them more susceptible to illness. This also means your family and friends will be protected from the disease since you will not bring any pathogens home from work. All in all, being a telephone triage nurse is a great way to stay healthy and safe.
5.You will not be subject to injuries from moving patients.
Another one of the pros of being a telephone triage nurse is that you will not have to worry about being injured by patients. Unlike nurses who have to physically move and transport patients, you will not be subject to the same risks. This means that you can enjoy a much safer working environment and peace of mind knowing that you are not at risk of being injured on the job.
6.You will not have trouble finding a job.
As a telephone triage nurse, you will have no trouble finding a job. Nurses in this field are in high demand due to the increasing popularity of telehealth services. This means that not only will you have no trouble finding a job, but you will also always have a job. The only trouble you will have is deciding which job to take! There are many telehealth companies out there that are always looking for experienced telephone triage nurses. So, if you are a nurse and are looking for a new challenge, consider a career in telephone triage nursing. You won't regret it!
7.You will not have to deal with office politics.
Another one of the pros of becoming a telephone triage nurse is that you will not have to deal with office politics. This is a great perk because you can focus on your patients and their needs without having to worry about anything else going on in the office. You can also rest assured that you will not be put in a difficult situation where you must choose between two competing colleagues. When it comes to triage, it is all about the patient and their needs first and foremost.
8. You may be able to work from home.
As a telephone triage nurse, you may be able to work from home. Working from home will give you flexibility in your schedule. It will make it possible for you to take care of your family and personal needs. Working from home will be a true blessing if you have small children. You will have the opportunity to be there for them when they need you the most and can still get your work done. Working from home can often lead to a better work/life balance.
9. You can work in many different settings.
Another one of the advantages of being a telephone triage nurse is that you can work in various settings. You could work in a call center or work from home. You could even work in a hospital setting in an office. There are many different options available to you, and you can choose the one that best suits your needs. Also, if you want to move to a different setting, you can do that easily. There are many opportunities for nurses in the telephone triage field. So, if you're looking for a challenging career that offers many options, this may be the perfect field for you.
10. You will have support
When you are working as a telephone triage nurse, you will need to have a strong understanding of the different available algorithms for you to tap into when a patient calls in. This will help you to provide the best possible care to your patients. By having this knowledge, you can provide accurate information and treatment recommendations to your patients. Whether they call in for a minor ailment or a more severe problem. These algorithms supplied to you will support you in making the best decisions for your patients.
BREAKING DOWN THE SALARY OF A TELEPHONE TRIAGE NURSE
What Is The Starting Salary Of A Telephone Triage Nurse?
When starting out in a telephone triage nurse career, I am sure one of the most pertinent questions you will have is, what is the starting salary. Well, the starting hourly salary for a telephone triage nurse is $27.79 an hour. This will be a weekly earning of $1,112 or a monthly salary of $4,820. These figures will have you earning a yearly salary of $57,810.
What Is The Average Salary Of A Telephone Triage Nurse?
The average salary of a telephone triage nurse is around $40.39 per hour. This means that you should expect to earn a weekly wage of $1,616 or $7,000 a month. You can expect your yearly salary to be $84,010.
Telephone Triage Nurse Salary By State
As with most careers in nursing, your salary will vary by state. California is one state where a telephone triage nurse will have the potential to earn the most significant salary. In California, you could earn $125,850 a year. In Alabama, you will earn an annual salary of around $62,790. Although the compensation that you will be earning in Arkansas is less than all the other states, it is still nothing to turn your nose up at.
HIGHEST PAID TELEPHONE TRIAGE NURSES
What Are The 10 Highest Paying States For Telephone Triage Nurses?
California is the highest paying state for telephone triage nurses with an average salary of $125,850. This is followed by Hawaii at $106,860. Massachusetts, and Oregon will all have you seeing salaries in the $100,000 a year range. Alaska, Washington, New York, Nevada, New Jersey, and Connecticut will have you earning wages in the $90,000 a year range.
What Are The 10 Highest Paying Metros For Telephone Triage Nurses?
Since California is the state where you will earn the highest salary as a telephone triage nurse, naturally, California will have the highest-paid metros. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA, the highest-paid metro, topping $155,500 a year. Chico, CA came in at number ten, having you earn $119,320. Even at number ten, that is a phenomenal salary.
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
|Santa Rosa, CA
|Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA
Top Organizations And Associations For Telephone Triage Nurses
•American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing: The American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing is an organization that provides information regarding certification as an ambulatory care nurse. You can also find information that will pertain to your practice as a telephone triage nurse.
•American Nurses Association: The American Nurses Association is an organization for all nurses that will provide you with essential information regarding practice regulations and certification in multiple areas of nursing. You will also find information regarding ethics and leadership which will help you grow in your career.
My Final Thoughts
Telephone triage nursing is a unique and challenging specialty of nursing. Telephone triage nurses have a distinctive and vital role in the medical community. They provide critical support to patients and doctors, ensuring that those who need care the most get the care they require. However, being a telephone triage nurse also has its downsides. It is not an easy job by any means, but it can be gratifying.
The pros and cons of being a telephone triage nurse that I have just presented to you should help alleviate the stress of deciding if this is the right career for you. These top 10 pros and cons of being a telephone triage nurse will arm you with the information you need to make an informed decision.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT
1.Is Telephone Triage Nursing A Good Career?
Yes, being a telephone triage nurse is a promising nursing career. Not only will you make an excellent salary, but you will also enjoy the perk of having a flexible schedule. Think of all the benefits to your personal life that you will have because of this excellent career choice.
2.On Average, How Much Does A Telephone Triage Nurse Make Per Hour?
On average, a telephone triage nurse will earn around $40.39 an hour. Earning this amount hourly is not too shabby. This is much higher than the national minimum wage of $7.25. so, you already are ahead of the curve.
3.How Many Hours Does A Telephone Triage Nurse Work?
Most telephone triage nurses will work around 40 hours a week. This may be accomplished by working five, eight-hour days or four 10 hours days. You may also find telephone triage nurses working twelve to thirteen hours.
4.Is Being A Telephone Triage Nurse Stressful?
Being a telephone triage nurse does not come without stress. Remember, you are trying to make an assessment of a patient based upon their description of their symptoms and then trying to develop a plan of action based on that description. So, essentially you need to decide how dire a patient’s chief complaint is and the level of care required based on never touching a patient and a non-medical person's description. So, to sum it up, yes being a telephone triage nurse is stressful.
5.Do I Need To Be Certified To Work As A Telephone Triage Nurse?
You do not need to be certified to be a telephone triage nurse. Still, it does make you appear more appealing to potential employers. You took the extra step and went above and beyond.
6.What Certifications Are Required Or Recommended For A Telephone Triage Nurse?
There is no specific certification that is for a telephone triage nurse. Most telephone triage nurses earn their ambulatory care nursing certification. Other certifications that would help are medical surgical nursing certification and pediatric nursing certification. Earning your emergency care nursing certification and critical care nursing certification will also be beneficial.
7.How Long Does It Take To Become A Telephone Triage Nurse?
The length of time it takes to become a telephone triage nurse will vary depending on the type of nursing degree you plan on pursuing. If you plan to obtain your associate’s degree in nursing, you will be spending around two years in school. If you plan on earning your bachelor’s degree in nursing, you will be spending around four years in school.
8.How Much Does It Cost To Become A Telephone Triage Nurse?
The cost of becoming a telephone triage nurse will depend on a couple of factors. The first is where the nursing program is and where you live. The second is whether the program is a private or public institution. Lastly, the cost of nursing will depend on the type of degree you are earning.
You could pay anywhere from $3,000-$10,000 per year for an associate’s degree at public universities. At a private institution, you may end up spending around $40,000 for your degree. A bachelor’s degree cost will also depend on those factors as well. Private and public institutions can cost anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000 for your education.
9.What Is The Difference Between A Telephone Triage Nurse And A Triage Nurse?
The main difference between a telephone triage nurse and a triage nurse is the place of work. A telephone triage nurse conducts their job over the phone. A triage nurse conducts their job in either an emergency room or an urgent care center. A triage nurse is able to physically assess the patient, whereas a telephone triage nurse cannot. Their duties are performed entirely over the phone.
10.What Does It Mean To Triage A Patient?
Triaging a patient is probably one of the most important jobs there is when a patient is seeking care. When a patient is being triaged, the nurse will assess the patient in order to determine what level of care this patient may need. This will dictate the order in which the healthcare team will see the patient. Those who present more ill or those who are suspected of having a condition that can be dangerous are seen first. It is the triage nurse who determines this.
In the world of telephone triage, the nurse will determine if the patient needs primary medical care and the ailment can be handled at home or if the patient needs to be seen by a provider. The telephone triage nurse will also determine if the patient needs immediate care and needs to go to the emergency room.
11.Is It Difficult For Telephone Triage Nurses To Adequately Assess Patients?
It may be difficult for a telephone triage nurse to adequately assess their patients at times. This is because you, as the telephone triage nurse, must rely on what the patient is telling you. You will never be laying your hands on the patient.
12.Can Telephone Triage Nurses Write Prescriptions?
No, a telephone triage nurse cannot write prescriptions. This is outside of the scope of practice for a telephone triage nurse.
13.What Are The Continuing Education Requirements For A Telephone Triage Nurse?
There is no required telephone triage nurse continuing education credits. However, the state that you hold your nursing license may require continuing education requirements that you can fill with CE credits related to telephone triage nursing.
14.What Kind Of Career Advancement Opportunities Are There For Telephone Triage Nurses?
Career advancement as a telephone triage nurse can come in the form of becoming a manager within your place of employment. Other areas of advancement can be earning your advanced practice degree and becoming a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners are used a great deal in the world of telehealth. You may be able to keep the same type of work environment, just a different role.
Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.