The job description of a telephone triage nurse

Written by sheri lamb
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The job description of a telephone triage nurse
Triage nurses are responsible for patient care over the phone. (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

The telephone triage nurse is an important aspect of the health care industry. She is responsible for client care and a number of administrative duties. The nurse is at a desk for the majority of her time at work and the hours on the phone can be long.


Telephone triage nurses respond to health-related questions over the telephone. Their responsibilities extend to diagnosing patients without actually seeing them. The nurse uses his knowledge of the regular growth rate of the illness along with the age of the telephone patient to make diagnoses. He listens to patient feedback about pain, fear, anxiety and how much they understand about the condition they are suffering from. He needs to have extremely good listening skills to be able to diagnose someone over the phone.


A nurse needs to attend a four-year college nursing course to qualify to become a telephone triage nurse. This course will give her a degree in the field. Medicine and medical knowledge is imperative to successfully complete the course. The course includes extensive practice in mock medical situations. She will be given a description of symptoms and it is her job to diagnose what the patient is suffering from.

Salary and Hours

While the salary earned as a telephone triage nurse varies, an experienced applicant can expect to receive an average of £39,650, as of 2011. The salary depends on location and experience. Many telephone triage nurses work after regular doctor office hours, so graveyard work might be necessary. The nurses are hired to be an extension of the regular services offered by doctors. She may also receive client profiles from doctors so she will have an idea of the issues involved with a specific patient.

Other Responsibilities

The nurse needs to figure out whether the patient is in a critical condition. It is up to the triage nurse to determine whether 911 should be called to attend to the patient. If matters aren't that urgent, the nurse can set up an appointment with a doctor. However, the overall goal of the nurse is to reduce the number of visits patients make to the clinics because often a simple remedy to their problem is available.

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