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Transforming a Nurse into a Triage Nurse

By Marci Lawing, RN Nursing Director


We have previously written about the basic qualities required to be a good telephone triage nurse (see article). Once those qualities exist, the nurse is then ready to move on to training to become a great telephone triage nurse. 

What does it take to become an effective telephone triage nurse?

Training, Training and More Training

There are many, many hours of training that are put in before a nurse even gets to take a “live” patient call.

Academic learning: Nurses start by reading training materials, in particular modules that will help them understand their role as a telephone triage nurse. The Schmitt-Thompson protocols and call center policies and procedures including requirements for URAC accredited health call centers are part of a quality training program. TriageLogic also offers free triage nurse training through the Learning Center.

Mock Calls: A new telephone triage nurse’s brain must be reprogrammed and their thought process re-routed, so that all those assessment checks they used to see, feel, and touch now must come from the words of their caller/patient. This requires hours and hours of mock call training. As triage managers and trainers, we engage the help of other nurses to be the “patients” and let the trainee be the “nurse”. In this way, they learn to communicate and listen as another person presents them with scenarios. They also learn to navigate the TriageLogic software and explore the hundreds of Schmitt/Thompson protocols they can use as a tool to assist in their decision-making process.

Observing Live calls: While practice and listening to calls is very important, nurses also need to be comfortable making decisions quickly once they get on the phone. To help with real-life practice, nurses log on to TriageLogic’s web-based program and actually listen to a more experienced nurse take live patient calls. This task further allows the new nurse to hear patient-and-nurse interactions and see what questions the nurse asks and what decisions they are making with the goal of getting the patient to the right level of care given the symptoms.

The first LIVE call:
No training would be complete without having the trainer listen to the trainee take “live” patient calls. Nerve-wracking as it is, I relate it to the first time I gave a shot in nursing school with all my colleagues surrounding me – talk about pressure! Even the most “book prepared” nurse is going to be nervous when they first start taking calls. There is no easy way: jumping into the deep end and taking the phone call is the only way to get over those first call jitters.

Turning a great nurse into a great triage nurse takes quality training and preparation. Each of our TriageLogic nurses receive this training and are routinely monitored for QA in order to ensure that their skills stay sharp. Our nurses also have the best in class clinical call center software at their fingertips to assist them with patients. Contact us today to see how TriageLogic can help your practice.