Nurse Types / Telehealth Nurse
During the pandemic, telehealth nursing gained in popularity because it was a socially distant healthcare solution. Patients easily could 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. The earliest versions of telehealth launched in the late 1950s when the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute and Norfolk State Hospital established a closed-circuit link for conducting psychiatric consultations. It has continued to evolve since those early iterations.
As technology advances, so does how nurses and other telehealth services providers conduct patient assessments and deliver care.
If becoming a telehealth nurse is in your future, read on to learn:
- What is a telehealth nurse?
- What do telehealth nurses do?
- Where do telehealth nurses work?
- What are specific types of telehealth nurses?
- How do you become a telehealth nurse in 3 steps?
- What are additional requirements of telehealth nurses?
- What are the salary and career outlooks for telehealth nurses?
What is 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 in patient access to healthcare. The American Telemedicine Association encourages all telemedicine practitioners to provide excellent care to their patients. Telemedicine should provide the same level of service as in-person care.
Qualities of a successful telehealth nurse
Telehealth nurses use a lot of technology for their jobs, so you must be technology-proficient to be successful in this role. Call-in consultations can be quite a different experience for patients, so you must be caring, friendly, and positive.
Other qualities that help you succeed include:
- Being a good listener
- Being a team player
- Speaking with a clear voice
- Understanding the limitations of technology
What does a telehealth nurse do?
As with all nursing professionals, the roles and responsibilities of telehealth nurses can vary depending on their employer and their nursing specialty. Here are some of the most common duties of telehealth nurses:
- Assisting doctors with patient loads by determining which patients require physician intervention and which can be treated remotely.
- Consulting with patients via video chat or over the phone to assess healthcare needs.
- Educating patients about symptom management.
A day in the life of a telehealth nurse
In this role, you’ll do more than simply counsel patients over the phone. Modern technology like computers and audio-visual accessories allows you to monitor patient health and interact more seamlessly.
During the course of a normal shift, you also might:
- Monitor patient vitals like blood glucose or oxygen levels remotely and report any issues to the patient’s healthcare team.
- Offer medical advice for patients suffering from minor health issues.
- Schedule appointments and referrals for patients to see specialists.
Common conditions treated by telehealth nurses
Telehealth nurses can’t treat every health condition because some require an in-person physical examination for proper diagnosis. However, some of the most common health concerns you can expect to handle include:
- Back pain not accompanied by additional symptoms
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Diabetes (check-ins or follow-ups with established patients)
- Flu, Covid-19, and other infectious diseases
- Mental health concerns (anxiety, depression)
- Urinary tract infections
Where do telehealth nurses work?
One of the biggest perks of telehealth nursing is it can be done virtually anywhere. Some telehealth nurses can work from the comfort of their own homes depending on their employers.
When they aren’t working out of their homes, telehealth nurses work in a variety of settings, including:
- Outpatient care facilities
- Physician’s offices
- Trauma centers
What are specific types of telehealth nurses?
There are four types of telehealth. Each of the four types needs telehealth nurses to run smoothly.
- Live video telehealth nurses use audio-visual technology to have real-time appointments with patients who can see and hear them simultaneously.
- Mobile health telehealth nurses use mobile communication devices like cell phones and tablets to send health alerts and other healthcare information to patients.
- Remote patient monitoring telehealth nurses are responsible for using technology to collect and analyze data about their patients.
- Store-and-forward telehealth nurses take electronically transmitted information like digital images and documents and forward them to a specialist.
Closely related fields
If you’re looking for healthcare careers that are like telehealth nursing, you have a few options. each of these nursing careers can be done from home.
- Case managers typically work for hospice and home care centers. They create personalized evaluation and treatment plans.
- Nurse consultants serve as subject-matter experts and can work for health care centers, insurance companies, and medical plans.
Expert advice from nurses like you
How do you become a telehealth nurse in 3 steps?
Becoming a telehealth nurse requires several years of schooling, RN licensure, plus targeted experience in the field to help you accumulate the right skills for the job. Follow these three steps to get started in your new nursing career.
Step 1 – Become a registered nurse
Telehealth nurses must obtain a Registered Nurse (RN) licensure as part of the requirements for working in this nursing field. Nurses have several options for becoming an RN. You can either earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
Earn a BSN degree
While it’s possible to become an RN with an ADN, most employers prefer – and some require – a BSN degree to work for them. You have several paths to earning a bachelor’s degree.
If you’re already an RN, you can opt for a RN to BSN program to fast-track your degree. Do you already hold a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field? No problem! You qualify for enrollment in an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) degree program.
Pass the NCLEX exam
The next step toward your career as a telehealth nurse is to pass the NCLEX exam. Your exam can have between 75 and 265 questions designed to evaluate your competency as an entry-level RN.
If you fail the test on your first try, you must wait 45 days before you can take it again.
Step 2 – Accumulate experience
Once you’re a licensed RN, you must seek out experience to help you build the necessary skills for working as a telehealth nurse. Most nurses work in a traditional RN role for up to two years before applying for a telehealth nursing position.
Helpful skills and experience
Because telehealth nursing is done in a virtual setting, you must develop excellent communication skills to compensate for the lack of face-to-face contact with your patients. It’s also advisable to accumulate as much bedside care experience as possible so you have hands-on experience with common health conditions you’ll someday be treating virtually.
Changing your specialty to a telehealth nurse
If you’re already working as an RN, it’s not difficult to switch gears and begin a new career as a telehealth nurse. You may want to take some continuing education courses focused on this nursing specialty to prepare you for the challenges associated with telehealth medicine.
Step 3 – Obtain certifications
A final step in the process is to earn certification. While there is no specific certification for telehealth nursing, one of the most popular options is the Ambulatory Care Nursing Certification (RN-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
Telehealth nurses must complete continuing education requirements to maintain their certifications. Incredible Health offers free nursing CEUs. Create a free account, complete course requirements for renewing certification and other professional development mandates, and get instant certificates.
What are additional requirements of telehealth nurses?
Like other RNs, telehealth nurses must renew their licensure periodically. You can check with your state licensing board to get the specifics on renewal for your state of practice.
You also must keep any certifications current by following the guidelines from the certifying bodies. Some require passing an exam every couple of years, while others may require continuing education in specific health care topics.
What are the salary and career outlooks for telehealth nurses?
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 patients preferred it. This nursing is not just popular with patients. Nursing professionals interested in exploring more flexible work opportunities find it to be a suitable career option.
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Most telehealth nurses enjoy their jobs because they often can work from the comfort of their own homes. RNs who make the most of professional development opportunities tend to have the highest satisfaction rates.
The sky is the limit for telehealth nurses who want to advance their careers. You can choose to continue your education, earning a Master of Science in Nursing degree that opens career opportunities in leadership and management roles.
You also might want to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), expanding your role to allow for more autonomy in your healthcare career.
Telehealth nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who rely on various forms of technology and electronic devices to deliver healthcare to patients.
Some telehealth nurses work from home. Others can work at clinics, hospitals, outpatient care facilities, physician’s offices, and trauma centers.
The average annual pay is $93,730.
Step 1 is education. It is highly recommended that you earn an MSN degree. Step 2 is to pass the NCLEX exam. Step 3 is to gain experience. Then you can earn relevant certifications.
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- Ambulatory Care Nursing Certification (AMB-BC™). nursingworld.org. Accessed September 15, 2022.
- American Telemedicine Association. americantelemed.org. Accessed September 19, 2022.
- Health equity in telehealth. telehealth.hhs.gov. Accessed September 15, 2022.
- Registered Nurses. bls.gov. Accessed September 15, 2022.
- Telehealth: A quarter-trillion-dollar post-COVID-19 reality? mckinsey.com. Accessed September 15, 2022.
- Telehealth Nursing Salary. ziprecruiter.com. Accessed September 16, 2022.
- The Evolution of Telehealth: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going? ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed September 15, 2022.
- The relationship between nurses’ job satisfaction and continuing professional development. sciencedirect.com. Accessed September 15, 2022.
- What is telehealth? cchpca.org. Accessed September 15, 2022.