Tips for Successful Triage Nursing
By TriageLogic Group
Telephone triage nurses help patients over the phone by answering their health questions and determining the appropriate care advice. Over the course of a single shift, triage nurses assist and consult with patients over the phone through a series of questions, consulting medical records, scheduling appointments and referring patients to specialists, teaching patients how to manage their symptoms and much more. Nurses use standardized protocols when triaging patients.
The field of remote telephonic triaging often appeals to multifaceted, fast-paced, behind-the-scenes, self-motivated nurses. While rewarding, there can also be drawbacks that can make triaging tedious, such as no direct contact with patients or co-workers and long hours sitting at a desk on the phone and computer.
So, what works to keep telephonic nurses effective during stressful times? We conducted a Google+ survey and below you’ll find a summary of what we learned.
- Who are Triage Nurses?
Remote triage nurses come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from ER and high-risk areas to home health caretakers and new nurses. Some triage nurses choose to go into the field as a second job or change of specialty, while others may have physical disabilities that keep them from a traditional bedside position or family to closely care for.
Regardless of the reason behind becoming a triage nurse, remote triaging is a field that requires great nurses in order to function effectively. Working remotely is not for everyone, so it does take a nurse with a certain skill set to flourish in telephonic nursing. People who are self-motivated and enjoy being close to home, don’t miss going to a traditional workplace everyday and prefer a less physically demanding job may find triage nursing a good fit.
- Teamwork and Accountability
Each nurse contributes to the success of the team, and each person must do his or her job efficiently and accurately in order to succeed. When the call lines are busy and patients are waiting for help, the pressure can become intense. Mistakes can happen under such pressure and patients can lose precious time waiting for their turn to speak to a nurse. A group of nurses is needed that can band together during these times and do what is necessary to get the job done quickly and professionally.
When other nurses on the team need help, it is important to help each other out, by answering questions, making suggestions and helping them to set priorities. Have more experienced nurses take more difficult calls for the newer nurses, and let the newer nurses watch or monitor the calls to learn from them. Be available to take calls when the team needs extra muscle. Encourage each other and maintain a positive attitude to help the day go by easier for everyone. These strategies not only help train new nurses, but they help everyone feel connected and a part of the team.
- Ensuring Remote Nurses Stay Connected
Often times, telephone triage nurses work remotely. Working from home has many benefits including no need to commute, being close to family and working in a comfortable environment. It also allows some nurses to achieve a better work-life balance, and for others it may be a good alternative to retirement. Remote working can also be a way that disabled nurses can stay connected to the field, continuing to use their expertise. But working remotely might also bring challenges, such as feeling isolated or underappreciated. Connecting with other remote team members is essential to maintaining a coherent and content triage team.
To feel more connected, co-workers can connect on social networking sites such as Facebook to share stories, family photos, and virtually “meet” other team members. Triage nurses find it important to know who they are working with during their shifts. Skype or other messaging applications are quite popular, because they can be used not only to help patients, but also to communicate with co-workers in real time, allowing nurses to ask for advice on difficult calls or simply to chat to one another during downtime.
Recent advances in telephone systems have increased the availability of telephone triage for patients. While this significantly improves patient care and 24/7 healthcare, the training and expectations from the nurses who provide patient care is changing. This article presents some key aspects that make a successful nurse triage team.
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