Job Profile: Telephonic Nurse

A telephonic nurse is a registered nurse who connects to patients via telephone in order to deliver medical information and services from the comfort of a patient’s own home. This is a growing field that sees these nurses utilizing their accredited college education to provide care for patients, whether through triage care or on a continual case management basis; they are also a valuable part of a medical team. Telephonic nurses work to discuss a patient’s symptoms over the phone, make recommendations on care, make referrals to specialists, and work as a virtual partner in a patient’s recovery or maintenance process. These nurses also often work from home and sometimes make house calls; they have flexible schedules that can be altered to make more room for familial or other personal obligations. This is an excellent career path that is projected to grow at an accelerated rate as health care becomes more personalized.

Salary

The average salary for a telephonic nurse is around $83,400 per year. This includes bonuses accrued during the year as well as some profit sharing; it does not include overtime or incentive pay for moving from one employer to another.

Beginning Salary

The beginning salary of a telephonic nurse can be as low as $46,000 or as high as $60,000. The rate of pay depends on a nurse’s work experience and the region of the country in which they are employed.

Key Responsibilities

There are a variety of key responsibilities for telephonic nurses, including calling their patients to check on their health, take calls with potential patients, work directly with a health care insurance company or hospital to refer patients and take care of their paperwork, write reports, analyze patient symptoms and make proper referrals, and more. Some telephonic nurses may specialize, meaning that their work will see them work with a team that is devoted to caring for triage patients or work as a case manager for patients with long-term diseases or conditions. A telephonic nurse must also be able to meet deadlines for phone calls and be available during office hours, requiring them to be on-call in the event that a patient or the medical team they are a part of needs to get in touch with them. But the most important key responsibility for a telephonic nurse is to be as present for their patients as humanly possible, even though they are only conversing with them over the phone.

Necessary Skills

Telephonic nurses must possess a variety of unique skills that are critical to their success in the profession. This includes listening and observation skills when calling patients to determine a diagnosis, make a plan for their care, and even deduce when a patient isn’t being fully honest with them. The nurse must then be able to create a plan of care for their patient, which requires communication and interpersonal skills in order to work with the medical team; decision-making is also integral as a telephonic nurse must be able to decide what care a patient needs in the moment. This can be a vital skill that saves the life of the patient because a telephonic nurse can immediately make calls to put their patient in care, even when they’re not in the physical proximity of their patient.

Degree and Education Requirements

Telephonic nurses must have an accredited Bachelor of Science in Nursing at a minimum; some employers may also prefer a candidate with a graduate degree in nursing, although this is uncommon. Many registered nurses who wish to work in this field will find that getting an RN to BSN degree will benefit them greatly when looking for a job. The main difference between a telephonic nurse with an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree is the beginning salary; telephonic nurses with a graduate degree can make up to $10,000 a year more than a nurse with an undergraduate degree. However, the median salary for all nurses continues to be steady, meaning that the difference in degree has little effect on the career trajectory. Along with an accredited degree, telephonic nurses are also expected to continue their education in the health care industry and medical advancements; this continuing education takes place through online courses, workshops, conferences, and lecture series. Depending on the type of telephonic nurse field one enters into, the continuing education could require ambulatory, triage, or case management course.

Rewards and Challenges of This Position

One of the greatest rewards for a telephonic nurse is the fact that these professionals work from home and have a flexible schedule they can alter with their employer. Another great reward of telephonic nursing is that patients continually express their gratitude towards these professionals because they feel they are getting personalized care; because telephonic nurses often are the first call patients make prior to going to the doctor, they develop a relationship with that nurse, making it easier for them to discuss symptoms and get the treatment they deserve. Challenges are also present; many telephonic nurses must contend with continual changes, both to the policy when working for a health care insurance company, a rotating list of cases they must work through, and more. The job can also be stressful because many nurses work as telephonic triage nurses, which means they are often the first line of help for patients who may be in life-threatening situations.

Getting Started

Telephonic nurses have other requirements other than an accredited degree in order to obtain a job in this profession. One such requirement is earning the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, or NCLEX-RN, designation. It is not necessary to have work experience to sit for the exam. Another designation that is also popular for telephonic nurses comes from the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing that contains a section that directly focuses on telephone triage; to sit for this exam, nurses must have at least 2,000 work experience hours that come directly from a clinical setting. Nurses who also move into telephonic nursing must also have between two to five years of direct patient care experience prior to being employed in this profession; this ensures that they can demonstrate competency with nursing and are capable of working via telecommunication with patients.

Future Outlook

The field of telephonic nursing is by no means new; it has been around for at least a decade and is only growing in popularity as health care becomes more personalized and digitized. While there is no future outlook available for this position alone, registered nurses and nurse practitioners can look forward to a 16 percent growth in their field through 2024. The need for nurses, especially those who work as telephone triage nurses or case managers, continues to grow, meaning that a variety of companies are looking for qualified candidates with a variety of degrees and work experience. Samples of some employers who are currently looking for telephonic nurses include health care insurance companies, clinics, hospitals, health care systems, private physician offices, the military, government agencies, schools, and correctional facilities. Most of the jobs in this career right now are coming from health care insurance companies who need to keep up with demand for access to nurses.

Telephonic nursing is an incredible profession for professionals who are looking for a little flexibility in their schedules in order to have more time for their personal obligations or to go back to school to earn a graduate degree. While this career is not for everyone, it is a great choice for independent and compassionate nurses who are ready to move into the new phase of personalized health care.

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