How to Become an Advice Nurse

Image of content creator sitting on a couch and smiling at camera
Written by Ayana Dunn, BSN Content Writer, IntelyCare
Content creator standing in front of green trees smiling for camera
Reviewed by Morganne Skinner, BSN Content Writer, IntelyCare
Advice nurse on the phone

An advice nurse, also known as a telephone triage nurse, provides health guidance over the phone. They assess and communicate whether callers are safe to use recommended home remedies or should be seen by a healthcare provider. When necessary, they assist with coordinating the patient’s in-person visit.

Those two terms aren’t always interchangeable. Sometimes advice nurses only answer questions regarding a particular topic. The callers may just want to stay informed rather than seek assistance for an issue. A telephone triage nurse assesses a patient’s medical needs and refers them to the appropriate provider, depending on the urgency of the patient’s condition.

Any nurse with her/his RN license can apply to work as a medical advice nurse, but there are several key differences to keep in mind when considering this nursing career option. It’s important to have strong communication skills and soft skills to manage patient care without in-person interaction. Read on to learn more about what it takes to become a medical advice nurse.

The Changing Healthcare Landscape

Healthcare is no exception to the increased presence of technology and the efficiency it brings. More people can manage much of their lives without leaving their homes, including access to one-on-one medical assistance. Regular disease management and education from remote nurses have decreased emergency department admissions, which alleviate strain on the healthcare industry.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in telehealth demand, which increased opportunities for remote nursing work. Virtual healthcare is now a standard part of brick-and-mortar facilities. Telehealth is more cost efficient and easier for people with transportation barriers, and patients are often satisfied with this type of care.

What Does an Advice Nurse Do?

These nurses answer patient calls by prioritizing the urgency of the situation. If all the calls appear to be the same acuity, the nurse can answer in the order they arrived. They document the encounter and decide the next steps.

If the patient doesn’t need to seek care in a healthcare facility, the nurse can share any relevant resources for patient education in addition to medical recommendations. If necessary, the nurse schedules appointments or directs the patient to nearby urgent care and emergency departments. Sometimes, these nurses must contact another staff member for consultation or for other reasons unique to the situation.

Why Become an Advice Nurse?

As the name suggests, phone triage nurses work with patients over the phone or in a virtual setting. This means that there is no direct patient contact, which can reduce the risk of physical injury and pathogen exposure. One downside to this job is that nurses remain sedentary for the entirety of the shift, but this can be mitigated by taking short breaks for walks and other forms of movement.

Another perk of advice nursing is that you work with one patient at a time. You will need to prioritize the order of importance when there are multiple calls, but you get to focus on solving one patient’s problem before moving on to the next one.

Telephone triage nurses may also be able to work remotely. This position allows RNs to work from home as long as their workspace meets technology requirements.

Telephone triage nurses play crucial roles in the first steps of addressing acute problems, and the ongoing health of patients. This is especially true for those patients who are unable to access healthcare otherwise. This could be why telephone triage nursing is a well-paid specialty despite the absence of direct patient contact.

Requirements for Becoming an Advice Nurse

As long as you’re comfortable with technology and posses relevant experience, any RN can apply for a job as a medical advice nurse. Some positions may require compact licensure to practice across state lines. RNs with stellar communication skills and a knack for making quick decisions under pressure excel in this position.

The Importance of Soft Skills

Advice nurses use their soft skills to accurately understand a patient’s needs and potentially avoid a trip to a healthcare facility. In this role, you can provide care solely with medical advice. Nurses in this specialty who have honed their soft skills work wonders. Patience, active listening, and empathy are essential skills. It’s your job to bring calm and clarity to a tense situation and help the caller successfully address their issue.

Clear communication is imperative. Nurses in this role need to translate healthcare language to people of varying education levels and ensure they’re correctly interpreting patients, all in a virtual or over-the-phone environment.

Medical advice nurses must also accurately communicate their findings to various members of the healthcare team and non-healthcare staff such as social workers and managers.

An Advice Nurse Solves Problems. So Does IntelyCare

Are you looking for greater flexibility in your work schedule? Learn how IntelyCare can help you find shifts that fit your life. Apply to become an IntelyPro today.