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How to become a Triage Nurse Guide
How to become a Triage Nurse Guide

Table of Contents

Quick Summary

Triage nurses assess patient conditions upon arrival to the Emergency room department. Many triage nurses are responsibility for placing patients into medical priority levels that are categorized by the patient’s medical needs.

Additionally, they are responsible for assessing patients with that are in the worst condition seen first by physicians and nurses. Triage nurses play a vital role within the medical field. They are frequently the person patients see upon entering into the emergency room. The term, “triage,” means to screen patients and to determine who can safely wait to be seen for medical treatment.

Recommended level of education for this career: Bachelor of Science (BSN)

License Needed: You must hold a current and active RN license

Certification: Ambulatory Care Nursing Certification is offered by The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

How much do Triage nurses make?  The Median annual salary is $65,659 per Staff Nurse and Phone Triage per Salary.com


What does a Triage Nurse do?

Triage nursing involves making sure the patients within the waiting room are seen promptly. Along with routing patients to the right medical team members and routing the patient to the right department.

Time is of the essence when patients first enter in the emergency room, and hospitals can face legal lawsuits if patients are suffering from severe conditions. Such conditions can include a heart attack or stroke, that need to be treated immediately are not routed promptly and later suffer from complications.

In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated over 130 million patients was checking into the emergency room. Out of that number, medical providers saw 18% of the patients within 15 minutes.

Some typical triage nursing duties can include:

  • Record patient’s medical complaint
  • Collect patient specimens
  • Take patient vital signs upon arrival to Emergency room
  • Provide accurate and detailed records of patient data
  • Screen and route incoming calls and determine how urgent the call is and routing them with proper medical staff
  • Send refill requests to primary providers or nurses
  • Nurse follow-up calls for patients for select patients
  • Provide post-op or pre-op instructions for patients and family
  • Keep patient flow moving promptly
  • Help to provide patients with clinic information
  • Keep documentation of patient plan of care

Triage nurses can additionally become telephone triage nurses. Telephone triage nurse consult with the patient by phone and using their nursing skills to determine best the patient’s condition and how urgent medical attention is likely needed.

Their job duties would include taking incoming calls from patients, evaluating the patient’s symptoms via telephone and directing the phone call to the appropriate medical department in a safe and timely manner.

  • Typical phone complaints include:
  • Fever
  • Patients suffering from urinary infections
  • Back pain and minor traumas
  • Respiratory infections

Telephone triage nurses do not diagnose patients. They collect patient data, help to improve unnecessary hospital visits or if emergency services are discovered to be needed the phone triage nurse helps direct them to the appropriate emergency department.

Characteristics and skills required to be a successful Triage Nurse

  • The ability to use critical thinking skills to assess accurately urgent situations
  • Excellent decision-making skills
  • Capacity to stay calm under levels of high stress and emergencies
  • Good communication skills that are beneficial when communicating with patients, family and medical staff members
  • Capacity to work in collaboration with other skilled medical members


What education will I need to become a triage nurse?

Triage nurses will need to the proper training to become eligible to become a Registered Nurse (RN). There are three educational paths you can pursue to become a triage nurse. You will need a hospital-based nursing diploma, either an Associates or Bachelors degree to become eligible to take the national NCLEX-RN examination.

Once you take your NCLEX-RN exam and pass, you can begin working as a registered nurse and gaining valuable work experience.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers registered nurses certification in Ambulatory Care Nursing. This certification is the recommended certificate for registered nurses who wish to work as a triage nurse.

The eligibility to take this certification include:

1). Current Registered Nursing License

2). Registered nursing experience of at least two years working

3). 2,000 hours of clinical practice within an ambulatory setting within the past three years.

4). 30 hours of continuing education (CE) in telehealth nursing or ambulatory nursing within the previous three years.


Career Outlook

Nursing specialties such as triage nursing will continue to be in high demand per the DOL. With over 100 million reported ER visits, hospitals, and physician offices will continue to need triage nurses to work on the front lines to help meet the demand for emergency room visits.

Read also – How to Become Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN/LVN) Guide

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