What is a Telenurse?

Advances in technology are creating ways for industries to get more done, in less time, saving them countless dollars and improving productivity among workers. These same advances are trickling into the medical field, where medical charts are being replaced by laptops and paging systems have become smart phones.

Telenursing is one of these technology-based advances. A Telenurse is a nurse who utilizes the latest in technology to monitor patients, give medical or first-aid advice and even help locate a clinic, hospital or physican that can best serve the patient’s needs. Telenursing has been used with geriatric care, helping to keep track of the effects of medications and treatments, as well as with mothers in labor. Recently, in Houston, Texas, and Richmond, Virginia, telenurses have been used to help keep the rate of non-emergency visits to emergency departments in hospitals to a minimum.

One of the risks involved with Telenursing is that the patient may feel they have lost a personal connection with those in charge of their medical care, and the nurse can feel the same disconnect. Transitioning from face-to-face, interpersonal contact into a technology-based care system may be hard for many people to understand or accept, but on the other hand, Telenurses can help faster than a nurse can help in a doctor office. For instance, if a new mother has a question about her newborn baby'scough, she can "remote in" and get instant advice rather than going into the emergency department and waiting, or having to schedule an appointment to see the pediatrician. Telenursing also helps cut back on patient’s needs to schedule childcare or transportation around their medical appointments and can even save lives by providing information about critical first-aid care while waiting for an ambulance or other emergency care provider.

The learning curve involved with Telenursing is what some say holds the field back. Nurses and medical professionals with decades of experience were not trained in the use and benefits of telehealth devices, and for many of them, it is more work than its worth to use technology over standard care. Those graduating with a four-year degree in nursing are more likely to be familiar with the protocols, benefits and practices related to Telenursing, especially those who have taken classes online. Telenursing is a growing opportunity for nursing professionals who enjoy the role of a nurse who can help benefit many people by monitoring their health from a distance. The benefits of Telenursing come down to the ability to act faster than in a standard nursing environment when the medical issues begin at the patient’s home. It is also reported that Telenurses may even make a larger salary than "in-house" nurses. Nurses who incorporate the latest technologies and who are not afraid to go beyond their general nursing school curriculum may be able to take advantage of the upcoming opportunities in Telenursing, helping to bridge medical care and technology as well as helping patients receive beneficial medical care in the comfort of their own homes. Read more about the most popular careers in nursing.