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What is Triage Nursing?

stethoscopeFor anyone looking to start a career in the medical field, triage nursing is one of the more important job roles in hospitals. The primary role of a triage nurse is to make a first assessment on any incoming patients to the emergency room. This job asks triage nurses to make quick decisions about the priority of admittance as a means of deciding the order in which patients will receive treatment. Though this might seem like an easy task to accomplish, it can be daunting, as the environment around an emergency room is always hectic and chaotic. A triage nurse is required to complete their tasks in an efficient manner, which typically takes a lot of job experience to perfect. The assessments that a triage nurse makes about a patient include a quick evaluation of their physical and mental condition.

Education and Certification Requirements

Becoming a triage nurse requires at least some education beforehand. Most people that go into a career as a triage nurse decide to do so primarily as a supplement for another career type. For instance, someone that has earned an Associate’s degree in medicine might want to get some work experience as a triage nurse while getting their Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in medicine en route to a career as a physician. The good thing about becoming a triage nurse is that it doesn’t require too much education, though obtaining a higher degree can help a person receive a job quicker or earn a slightly higher salary. In fact, there are a large number of ways to become a triage nurse.

You could apply to a nursing program directly from a hospital and earn a diploma that way. This type of program provides easy access to hands-on study. Earning an Associate degree in nursing will allow graduates to start applying for a job as a triage nurse, though chances of being hired are better after having earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Students that are looking to advance in their jobs after a number of years working as a triage nurse should consider earning a Master of Science in Nursing, which also provides graduates with the opportunity to eventually apply for jobs in administrative positions within the healthcare industry.

Their are two basic types of certification you can earn to help your chances of being hired, one that is a requirement and one that’s optional. It’s also important to note that licensure requirements vary slightly on a state by state basis. Once you have graduated with any nursing degree, it’s required of you to complete what is known as the National Council Licensure Examination. After passing, you will earn a nursing license, which allows you to practice nursing in whichever state the license has been obtained from. It’s also possible and recommended for anyone going into a career as a triage nurse to earn what is known as the Certified Emergency Nurse certificate, which will go well on your resume and help you to ascertain the level your skills are currently at when it comes to treatments that are specific to emergency nursing. This certificate can be earned by passing an exam and is provided by the Board of Certification in Emergency Nursing.

Job Duties

While earning a degree in nursing provides you with the opportunity to apply for practically any of the available types of nursing jobs, working as a nurse in emergency situations can provide you with a lot of useful experience for the future. When working as a triage nurse, the primary job duty you will be presented with is understanding the very definition of triage, which will require you to prioritize injuries in accordance with need. The assessment of a persons mental and physical conditions that you perform on the job will need to be done quickly and correctly, as time management is one of the most important aspects of working as a triage nurse. In the small window of time a triage nurse has to make this assessment, they will need to identify the core medical issue affecting the patient, write down any relevant medical history, identify whether the patient suffers from any allergies or is currently taking medications and measure a number of metrics, including weight, height, blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature.

There are also times when the duties that a triage nurse must perform include cleaning wounds and bandaging them, taking blood samples, providing patients with medications, keeping stock of medical equipment supplies and simply moving patients to where they need to go. When a triage nurse is sorting a patient, the priority levels include low priority, high priority, very high priority and highest priority. The priority level that a patient falls into all depends on where their injury has been sustained. Any injury to the face, chest, neck or cardiovascular areas would classify as highest priority. It’s up to a triage nurse to determine this.

Potential Salary as a Triage Nurse

A triage nurse can expect to work in hospitals and emergency centers that are independent of hospitals. Prisons and cruise ships are also commonly in need of triage nurses, while it’s possible to become a transport nurse that provides treatment to patients being transported to a hospital via helicopter by receiving more education. When looking at potential salaries for anyone that starts a career as a triage nurse, there are a large variety of factors that weigh into the amount of annual salary that you receive while on the job. For instance, those with more education are likely to receive a slightly higher paying job than those with an Associate’s in nursing, while triage nurses that have many years of experience typically earn more than those with a few years. Within the U.S., the median salary is set to just under $68,000, though this can range anywhere from around $54,000 to just over $82,000.

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