Triage nursing involves the care of more injured individuals than the available resources can handle. Triage, which comes from ‘trier’, a French word meaning ‘to sort,’ is the system used by emergency and medical personnel when it is necessary to ration medical resources. Triage nurses can work at the scene of an accident, such as on a battlefield or at the scene of a major disaster site, like a train accident or building bombing. In some of the triage cases, patients require immediate transport to a hospital to save their lives, while other people might be too severely wounded to treat.
When a patient is admitted to a hospital, the triage nurse assesses the patient’s condition and determines where the patient’s injury fits into the priority list. Sometimes that involves treating the patient directly, while other times patients may be referred to more staff for primary care. A triage nurse is skilled in cardiac care and can offer immediate ECGs to reduce the need to refer to the patient to the next department for further assessment.
Chances are, if you’ve ever gone into the public entrance of a hospital’s emergency room, you’ve been assessed by a triage nurse, who will ask questions about your injury or illness, take your pulse, record your temperature, and check other vital signs like blood pressure and heart rate. If a patient needs care immediately, he/she is taken to a treatment area directly, and if a patient’s injuries are less life-threatening, he/she could wait longer.
Overall, triage nurses are responsible for assessing and treating patients and scheduling follow-up appointments using a computer system so that patients get the kind of care they need. They have to follow set guidelines, maintain and update documents and important papers, communicate with providers, pharmacists, nurses, and CMAs, all while putting the patient first. Triage nurses also act as the communication between clients and patients if an appointment cancellation must be made.
Want to become involved in triage nursing? You will need an advanced nursing degree, RN to BSN degree, or LPN to BSN degree. Or you can learn more about these programs from the University of Phoenix:
» Bachelor of Science in Nursing
» Master of Science in Nursing