What training is required for a triage nurse?

Written by terri richards
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Introduction
  • Introduction

    What training is required for a triage nurse?

    Triage nursing falls into two categories. Face-to-face triage nurses evaluate patients in the emergency room or walk-ins at a medical clinic. Telephonic triage nurses interact with patients on the telephone. Both require good assessment and critical thinking skills when interacting with patients in potentially life-threatening situations.

    Triage nurses are an integral part of the health care system (nurse chris image by John Keith from Fotolia.com)

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    Education

    Nurse triage positions listed in May 2010 on monster.com revealed four of six employers were seeking a registered nurse (RN). Only one employer required a bachelor's degree and another was willing to hire an LPN (licensed practical nurse). An LPN holds a one-year degree from a college or vocational school. The American Nurses Association(ANA) describes a registered nurse as one who has completed a two-year associate degree or a three-year diploma program. A BSN (bachelor's of science in nursing) is an advanced four-year nursing degree. All registered nurses must pass a state RN licensing examination called the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

    Not all employers require a bachelor's degree in nursing. (old books,isolated image by JoLin from Fotolia.com)

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    Certification

    Certification is widely available. The American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN) offers Telehealth Nursing Practice Core Course (TNPCC) for nursing staff. Accredited by a subsidiary of the American Nurses Assocation, continuing education for Telephone Triage can be found on NURSINGCEU.com. Before spending time and money on certification, check out positions in your area to find out if it is required. Former nurse triage experience can be a substitute for certification.

    Certification may or may not be needed. (Blank award certificate form image by Stasys Eidiejus from Fotolia.com)

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    Skills

    Face-to-face triage nurses gather symptoms, obtain vital signs and physical exam findings. Telephonic triage nurses must be adept at listening to patients explain their symptoms and pick up on any auditory cues. Good communication, assessment and critical thinking skills are important when interacting with patients. Both types of nurses must judge whether the patient should be given home care advice, a medical office appointment or routed to the emergency department.

    Skills include critical thinking. (stethoscope on script pad image by Keith Frith from Fotolia.com)

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    Experience

    Most employers require clinical experience. Triage nurses who work in a paediatric setting will most likely need paediatric experience. Adult care will be required when working in family practice and cardiac care if performing triage for cardiology. Nurses who have a minimum of two years of experience in the related field are more likely to be hired. Some companies require previous triage experience but this may be waived if the nurse has extensive clinical or emergency department experience.

    Clinical experience is key to triage nursing. (médical image by razorconcept from Fotolia.com)

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    Job Requirements

    There are many duties triage nurses may be asked to perform. If working in a busy paediatric or family clinic, triage nurses may be asked to assist with patient care or make callbacks to patients. Strong computer skills are essential for proper documentation. Most offices use computer software protocols or standards that guide decision-making. Patient information is typed into the computer and matched to specific guidelines for which advice is given. Online scheduling of patient appointments is usually done by the triage nurse.

    There may be other duties in addition to triage nursing. (health centre sign. access to health centre image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com)

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    Considerations

    Triage nursing is different from other types of nursing. Triage nurses make decisions using sound nursing judgment and health care standards adopted by the company or medical clinic. The nurse must be compassionate, patient and knowledgeable about disease processes. Pros for triage nursing include no heavy lifting, flexible hours and sometimes working from home. Cons include lack of patient contact, limited contact with other staff members, large amounts of paperwork, computer data entry and sitting for long periods of time.

    Make a list of pros and cons about triage nursing before you decide on the career . (blank card #3 image by Adam Borkowski from Fotolia.com)

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    Future of Triage Nursing

    With health care reform comes opportunity. When more patients seek medical care, more nurses will be required to care for them. That means sorting through who needs to be seen now and who can wait. A perfect job for the triage nurse to help a medical office or hospital run more smoothly.

    The future of triage nursing looks bright. (misty rainbow image by Jesse-lee Lang from Fotolia.com)

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