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HEALTHCARE CAREER GUIDES

Triage Nurse Career

OVERVIEW

What is a Triage Nurse?


 

Nurses who work in triage work in emergency rooms and other emergency clinical facilities to help establish what kind of care patients need, ensuring they get sent to the right locations as fast as possible. Nursing in a triage setting requires being calm, cool, and authoritative as you direct traffic and help with immediate and dire medical situations, while getting doctors and other nurses up-to-speed on what is needed for specific patients.

RESPONSIBILITIES

What Does a Triage Nurse Do?

Triage nursing involves many job responsibilities that make the role diverse and important. Triage nurses must be able to keep a cool head under pressure, be decisive, and be quick on their feet. Triage nurses are expected to evaluate patient symptoms quickly and be able to get them moving to the right doctor and area as fast as they can. This means they need to know what they are looking for and be prepared to make a decision. Some of the responsibilities of triage medical professionals include:

  • Performing assessments on incoming patients to evaluate their symptoms so they can triage them appropriately
  • Working with patients and families who are in the waiting room
  • Giving emergency treatment whenever necessary
  • Transporting patients to their treatment area
  • Communicating to patients and families the course of action
  • Sorting patients into priority groups according to hospital triage guidelines
  • Working with doctors and other registered nurses to communicate the status of patients and treat as needed

EDUCATION & BEST DEGREES

How Do I Become a Triage Nurse?

In order to be qualified to be a triage nurse, you must be a registered nurse with current licensure. There are some programs that can help you prepare to become an RN, but there are also programs that help you prepare to get your RN as well as a bachelor’s degree at the same time. 

For nurses who are currently RNs, a BSN degree can help them be a more attractive candidate for triage positions. Higher education is extremely appealing to hospitals hiring nurses—more hospitals than ever are working to increase the percentage of their nurses who have degrees in order to meet magnet requirements. So getting a bachelor’s degree is a great way to ensure you have the credentials and qualifications hospitals are looking for. Similarly, a degree can help triage nurses get a higher salary.

Best Degrees for a Triage Nurse

Nursing (Prelicensure) – B.S.

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you to be an RN and a...

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you to be an RN and a baccalaureate-prepared nurse:

  • Locations: Due to in-person clinical requirements, students must be full time residents of FL, GA, ID, IN, IA, KS, KY, NE, NV, NM, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, UT to enroll in this program. The coursework in this program is offered online, but there are in-person requirements.
  • Tuition: $6,430 per 6-month term for the first 4 terms of pre-nursing coursework and $8,755 per 6-month term for the remaining 4 terms of clinical nursing coursework.
  • Time: This program has a set pace and an expected completion time of 4 years. Certain coursework may be accelerated to finish faster.
  • WGU offers the prelicensure program in areas where we have partnerships with healthcare employers to provide practice sites and clinical coaches to help teach you and inspire you on your path to becoming a nurse.
  • If you don't live in one of our prelicensure states or don't qualify to apply, consider getting our Bachelor's in Health and Human Services instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry, while also working directly with patients who need help.

Nursing (RN-to-BSN Online) – B.S.

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking the added...

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking the added theoretical depth, employability, and respect that a bachelor's degree brings:

  • Time: 77% of graduates finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition: $4,685 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 23 total courses in this program.
  • Transfers: Students can transfer up to 90 credits.

With over 35,000 BSN alumni, this is one of WGU's most popular online degree programs. View our RN to BSN degree guide. If you are an RN ready to earn your BSN, this program will help you accelerate to earn your degree.

If you don't currently have an RN and don't qualify for your nursing prelicensure program, consider getting our Bachelor's in Health and Human Services instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry in a unique way.

Nursing – Leadership & Management (RN-to-MSN) – M.S.

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and is a substantial leap...

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and is a substantial leap toward becoming a nurse leader.

  • Time: 75% of RN-to-MSN grads finish within 42 months.
  • Tuition: $4,685 per 6-month term during undergraduate portion and $4,795 per 6-month term during graduate portion.
  • Courses: 32 total courses in this program.

Some careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Director of Nursing
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Quality Director
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Project Manager

If you're driven to lead, this online nursing degree will provide you everything needed to make that career a reality. This program is ideal for current RNs who are interested in earning both their BSn and MSN in an accelerated program.

Compare degrees

This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees.

Nursing – Leadership & Management (BSN-to-MSN) – M.S.

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are ready for...

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are ready for additional career opportunities.

  • Time: 68% of grads finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition: $4,795 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 15 total courses in this program.

This program is ideal for current RNs who have a BSN and are ready for the next step in their education.

Sample careers and jobs this degree program will prepare you for:

  • Director of Nursing
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Quality Director
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Project Manager

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of medical and health services managers to grow 17% by 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Compare degrees

This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees.

Nursing Leadership and Management – Post-Master's Certificate

A certificate for registered nurses with a master's degree in nursing who...

A certificate for registered nurses with a master's degree in nursing who are ready for greater responsibility in a leadership and management role.

  • Time: 12 months.
  • Tuition: $4,795 per 6-month term. The cost to sit for the NAHQ Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) exam is included in tuition.
  • Courses: 8 total courses in this program.

Sample careers and jobs this degree program will prepare you for:

  • Director of Nursing
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Quality Director
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Project Manager

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of medical and health services managers to grow 17% by 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

How Much Does a Triage Nurse Make?

$76,526

Triage nurses can expect to earn an average annual salary of $76,526, with some making $100,000 or more. The location where triage nurses work has a great impact on their pay—larger hospitals and emergency rooms are likely to pay triage nurses much more than smaller hospitals, as they will be much busier. Similarly, the education level of a triage nurse is a direct indicator of their salary level.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?

6%

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of available nursing jobs is expected to grow by 6% from 2022 to 2032. Triage nurses will always be in high demand as they must have a specialized skill set. Expect the market for triage nurses to continue to grow consistent with the market for registered nurses.

SKILLS

What Skills Does a Triage Nurse Need?

Emergency rooms are typically full of patients in need of immediate medical attention. Kids with broken arms, car crash victims, those who have had heart attacks—dangerous health issues are almost always brought to the emergency room. The emergency room is usually flooded with patients who need medical attention and need it as fast as possible. The ER is fast-paced, loud, and a little chaotic. These high-pressure situations are exactly where triage nurses thrive. Here areother skills they need:

  • The ability to stay strong in the face of catastrophic injuries
  • Capability to follow instructions closely
  • Task management
  • Organization
  • Attention to detail
  • The ability to act quickly
  • Listening and communication skills
  • Stay calm under extreme pressure
  • Integrity
  • Self-responsibility

Our Online University Degree Programs Start on the First of Every Month, All Year Long

No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!

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Interested in Becoming a Triage Nurse?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.