What is a Triage Nurse and What They Do?

Triage nurses play an essential role in hospitals, clinics, urgent care facilities, and other healthcare settings by quickly assessing the needs of each patient and determining the appropriate level of treatment. A Triage Nurse makes quick and accurate decisions to prioritize care for those with the most severe medical issues. This post will explain you all the details of how to become a Triage Nurse and the skills you need for this role.

What is a Triage Nurse?

A triage nurse is a specialized type of nursing professional that manages initial patient assessments in clinical settings. They work at the front line of healthcare, usually in emergency rooms or urgent care centers, assessing patients’ medical conditions and determining the order of urgency for treatment.

What Does a Triage Nurse Do?

Triage nurses are responsible for assessing patients’ health and determining the urgency of their care. This includes taking vital signs, gathering medical histories, and developing initial diagnoses. Triage nurses also monitor changes in patients’ conditions throughout their visit and provide additional assistance as needed. Additionally, they may coordinate the transfer of patients to other departments or facilities if necessary.

How is the Day in a Life of an Triage Nurse?

A typical day for a triage nurse may vary depending on the healthcare setting but typically includes:

6:00 am – Wake up and get ready for work
7:00 am – Arrive at the hospital or clinic
7:15 am – Greet patients as they arrive, assess their medical complaints, and take their vital signs
8:00 am – Record all patient information into the healthcare system
9:00 am – Assess any new or returning patients that come through the door and triage accordingly
12:30 pm – Take a break for lunch
1:30 pm – Continue assessing incoming patients, updating records as needed
3:00 pm – Begin to wrap up the day by reviewing patient records and evaluating patient interactions
5:00 pm – Leave for the day
7:00 pm – Relax and unwind after a long day at work.

Difference between ER and Triage Nurses

The main difference between ER and triage nurses is their role in patient assessment. An ER nurse generally works with patients who have already been seen by a triage nurse, assisting doctors with treatment and procedures. On the other hand, a triage nurse is responsible for quickly assessing medical conditions to determine if intervention is necessary and the appropriate level of care. Additionally, ER nurses may have more advanced medical training than triage nurses as they may be required to provide specialized treatments or procedures based on doctor’s orders.

What Unit is Triage ?

Triage is typically associated with a triage unit or hospital area, where nurses can assess and prioritize new patients. In most emergency rooms, the triage nurse is often the first healthcare professional a patient encounters upon arrival. Most triage units contain several chairs or beds for assessment and treatment, while some may even include a separate area for family members to wait. Additionally, they are usually staffed with other healthcare professionals such as lab technicians and X-ray technicians who can assist the triage nurse in performing tests or taking vital signs. Triage units must be organized and efficient, as multiple patients often arrive at once.

How to Become a Triage Nurse?

Educational Eligibility

To become a triage nurse, one must have a registered nursing (RN) degree or diploma from an accredited college or university. In addition to the educational requirements, RNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and obtain a license to practice legally. Other qualifications may include BLS (Basic Life Support) certification and experience in emergency room settings.

Training Requirements

Once the educational and licensing requirements have been met, triage nurses must complete additional training to become knowledgeable in assessment techniques and treatment protocols. This can include on-the-job training with experienced triage nurses or specialized courses provided by nursing organizations or hospitals. The training should focus on developing the skills needed to perform a practical initial assessment of patients and properly prioritize their care.

Essential Skills

In addition to the educational and training requirements, triage nurses must possess specific essential skills to succeed.

Below is the list of skills:

  • Ability to accurately assess and prioritize patients based on their medical condition
  • Knowledge of signs, symptoms, and treatments for a variety of medical conditions
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to remain calm under pressure
  • Proficiency in using electronic health record systems
  • Good organizational and problem-solving skills.

Triage nurses are vital in healthcare settings, requiring specialized knowledge and skills. With the right education, training, and experience, individuals can become successful triage nurses and provide quality care to needy patients.

Pros and Cons of a Triage Nurse


– Rewarding career helping people in need
– Opportunity to work with a variety of medical professionals and specialists
– Excellent salary potential
– Flexible schedules and job availability


– Stressful environment with long hours and high-pressure situations
– Constant risk of exposure to contagious illnesses or diseases
– Potentially dangerous situations with violent or emotionally unstable patients
– Little room for advancement in the field.

Salary of Triage Nurse

The salary of a triage nurse can vary greatly depending on experience, location, and other factors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of May 2019, the median annual wage for RNs was $73,300. However, those working in specialty areas such as emergency care may earn significantly more. The BLS also reported that the median annual wage for RNs working in emergency rooms was $84,910. Additionally, those who work in critical care units or research centers may earn even higher salaries.


What questions do triage nurses ask?

Triage nurses typically ask patients questions to assess their condition, such as: what is their complaint? How long have they been experiencing symptoms? What other medical conditions do they have? Are there any medications or treatments they are currently taking? Do they have any allergies or sensitivities? What is their current lifestyle (e.g. diet, exercise, stress levels)?

What is the job outlook for triage nurses?

The job outlook for triage nurses is very positive, with an expected growth of 7% from 2019 to 2029 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This growth is partly due to the increasing demand for healthcare services, especially in rural areas. The aging population will also contribute to job opportunities for triage nurses as they will be needed to care for elderly patients.

What is the protocol for triage?

Triage protocol typically consists of four steps. Write all details in bullet points

Step 1: Assess the patient’s condition and provide essential life support as needed.
Step 2: Quickly gather information from the patient, including medical history and current symptoms.
Step 3: Perform a physical assessment by taking vital signs or other tests as necessary.
Step 4: Determine the severity of the patient’s condition and prioritize their care accordingly.

Final Words

Triage nursing is vital in the healthcare industry, and it can be rewarding and challenging. It requires a special kind of nurse who can stay calm under pressure, thinks quickly on their feet, and make critical decisions quickly. Triage nurses are often the first point of connection for many emergency patients, so they must have excellent communication skills.

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