One of the most stressful and hectic jobs in the medical field would have to be the emergency room. At any given minute, medical personnel are called on to respond to everything from a runny nose to a gunshot wound to car wrecks and more. Normally, the frontline of the ER is a registered nurse. The nurse assesses the emergencies that come in and basically directs the flow of patients. Nurse triage training is designed to help nurses master the art of assessing patients in an emergency situation.
There isn’t exactly a formal degree in nurse triage; however, there is a certificate that can be applied for and an exam that can be taken after a 2000 hours working in a triage position and having been through one of the many learning classes that can be found online or as an employee offered class in many hospitals.
The very first thing that must be in place is the registered nursing degree. This can be an Associate Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Once the exam has been taken and successfully passed, the nurse can apply to work the emergency room in triage and also ask about taking the nurse triage training class, if one is offered. Some states require this training in order to work in an emergency room and others do not, it is up to the nursing student to find out if there are requirements.
While most people immediately think of an emergency room when they think of triage nurses, the training that makes up this field of nursing prepares medical personnel to direct medical efforts in a variety of scenarios, such as battlefields in war, major catastrophes, accidents and other disasters where there are wounded and injured people who need medical help. The triage nurse can step into this chaos and make it somewhat more orderly by directing physicians to the most critical patients first and offering medical help to those that can be helped with minor assistance.
This explanation of triage nursing applies to any area where there are many sick people, including the emergency room. The triage nurse assesses patients in the ER to determine what level of care they need. Training involves learning to recognize critical emergencies and offer treatment, such as a person in cardiac arrest. During the assessment phase, the triage nurse will take vital signs, ask questions and get a medical history, if the patient is able to provide this information. Obvious conditions that require immediate attention are moved ahead and directly to a doctor’s care.
This sorting of patients’ illnesses can be highly stressful and put nurses directly in the line of fire of a patient’s wrath. Everyone who is sick thinks they are the sickest person in the room. An emergency room waiting area can be a melting pot of tempers ready to boil over as patients wait to be seen. This fact alone makes it very important for nurses who want to work in triage to have the proper training so that they can learn how to diffuse these types of situations.
Telephone triage is a relatively new but expanding area of nursing. Many doctor’s offices and HMOs are adding telephone triage to their office to help with patients who call and think they have an emergency. The nurse will assess their condition over the phone and make a determination as to whether or not they should come straight in to the office, go to the nearest hospital or if they can avoid the doctor altogether.
Telephone triage nurses typically have a much longer background in nursing, about 5 years. This is because they are assessing patients without being able to see them. The nurse must know which questions to ask and the questions that should follow those based on the patient’s answers. Telephone triage will continue to grow as the funding for healthcare becomes less and people try to avoid office visits when they can.
Nurse triage training prepares nurses to handle an assortment of scenarios and to sort patients based on their assessment of the medical condition presented. While this is a stressful and fast-paced nursing job, many people find they thrive on the ever-changing work day where nothing is the same.