During the pandemic, telehealth nursing gained in popularity because it was a socially distant healthcare solution. Patients can easily be assessed by telehealth nurses and sometimes treated without ever needing to step foot into a clinic, hospital, or physician’s office.
Telehealth is not a new concept. It has continued to evolve. As technology advances, so does how nurses and other telehealth service providers conduct patient assessments and deliver quality care.
In this article, we will explore:
- The role of a telehealth nurse
- Telehealth nurse duties
- Steps to becoming a telehealth nurse
- Telehealth certifications
- Continuing education
- Job and salary outlook for telehealth nurses
The role of a telehealth nurse
Telehealth nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who rely on various forms of technology and electronic devices to deliver healthcare to patients. Offering healthcare from a distance can be a sophisticated operation, with telehealth nurses playing a significant role. They can assist with minor health problems or determine if emergency care is needed. Delivering healthcare remotely not only improves efficiency but also provides equity for patient services.
Telehealth is a win-win for both healthcare providers and patients. By April 2021, 84% of physicians said they were offering virtual visits, with 57% saying they planned to continue offering telemedicine because of patient preference. Telehealth nursing is not just popular with patients. Nursing professionals interested in exploring more flexible work opportunities find it to be a suitable career option.
Telehealth nurse duties
As with all nursing professionals, the roles and responsibilities of a telehealth nurse can vary depending on the employer and nursing specialty. Here are some of the most common duties of telehealth nurses:
- Assisting doctors: Telehealth nurses can help by determining which patients require physician intervention and which can be treated remotely. This helps lighten the load for physicians.
- Consulting with patients: This can be done via video chat or over the phone to assess healthcare needs.
- Educating patients: Make sure patients understand symptom management.
- Monitoring patient’s vitals: This can include blood glucose or oxygen levels.
- Offering medical advice: This is done for patients suffering from minor health issues.
- Scheduling appointments and referrals: Nurses help patients determine what care they need then schedules appointments to see specialists.
Telehealth nurses work in a variety of settings, including clinics, hospitals, outpatient care facilities, physician’s offices, and trauma centers. Some may even work from the comfort of their own homes.
Steps to becoming a telehealth nurse
Step 1: Education
Attend an accredited nursing school to earn either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). An ADN will take between 18 and 24 months to complete, while you can expect to spend roughly four years to earn a BSN. If you already have an ADN, there is an ADN to BSN bridge program that allows you to earn a BSN in 12-18 months. There is also an RN to BSN bridge which takes three semesters of nursing courses to be completed in one year. These programs will save you time and money. The more education you have, the better your chances of landing your dream job.
Step 2: Examination
When you are six weeks away from graduation, you can apply to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. There are 75 to 265 questions on the NCLEX-RN with a five-hour time limit for completion. If you do not pass the NCLEX-RN on your first attempt, you must wait 45 days before you can try again.
The NCLEX includes questions on the following topics to test nursing candidates knowledge:
1. Safe and effective care environment
2. Health promotion and maintenance
3. Psychosocial integrity
4. Physiological integrity
Step 3: Experience
This step in the process is to gain hands-on experience. This will provide you with invaluable opportunities to work with patients making you attractive to future employers.
While there is no specific certification for telehealth nursing, one of the most popular options is the Ambulatory Care Nursing Certification (AMB-BC™) offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Candidates must meet certain requirements before they qualify for certification:
- Hold a current RN license
- Have 2 years of experience as a full-time RN
- Have a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in ambulatory care or telehealth nursing within the most recent 3 years
- Have completed 30 hours of continuing education in ambulatory care or telehealth nursing within the most recent 3 years
Create a free account to access professional development mandates and get instant certificates.
Telehealth nurses must complete continuing education requirements to maintain certifications. Incredible Health offers ANCC-accredited continuing education courses for nurses in all 50 states, 100% free and online. Create a free account to complete course requirements for obtaining and renewing certifications and managing professional development mandates. Get instant certificates.
Job and salary outlook for telehealth nurses
By 2028, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a need for 371,500 additional nurses in the healthcare workforce. The average hourly wage for a telehealth nurse is $37 per hour (about $75,000 per year), with the highest wage earners in the field making $46 per hour (about $84,000 per year).
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