So many think that telephone triage nursing is an easy job. After all, it is just talking on the phone right? Wrong. It is so much more, and is one of the hardest nursing positions you could ever hold. You have to have the ability to "see" the patient over the phone and safely get them to the next level of care.
So, what does it take to be successful in this specialty?
1. The nurse in this role must be self directed. They must be sure of themselves and realize that although their role is limited, they recognize their importance. Flexibility is important, and they must possess a good work ethic. This is often a very independent role, and these qualities are a must.
2. The nurse must be be focused on the short-term goal and achieving short term results. They must possess excellent time management skills, and enjoy bite size pieces of information. They measure their success by reaching measurable outcomes.
3. The nurse must be a strong patient advocate. They must be empathetic, have the ability to gain the patient trust, and be effective in their delivery.
4. The nurse must possess practical intelligence. Telephone triage is a constantly changing specialty. The effective nurse must enjoy learning and be a quick learner. They should also be able to relate new information to previous knowledge and apply it when necessary.
In summary, the successful triage nurse must be able to prioritize medical emergency calls, explain lab/test results, draw on prior experiences and knowledge, use decision support tools effectively, and communicate effectively with the patient within the patient's level of understanding.
Is this the role for you? It is not for everyone. However, it can be one of the most rewarding specialties in nursing if you possess these qualities.