What is telehealth nursing? Telehealth nursing involves providing care remotely. There are many benefits of telehealth nursing, such as convenience and better patient monitoring. The process of how to become a telehealth nurse begins with earning a nursing degree, obtaining licensure and gaining bedside experience.
One of the many benefits of switching careers to nursing is the wide range of opportunities within the field. After earning your nursing degree and obtaining licensure, you can choose from a variety of workplace settings and nursing specialties. You may even decide to work remotely as a telehealth nurse.
What is telehealth nursing, and what are the benefits of telehealth nursing? We’ll take a closer look at this area of health care, but first, you’ll need a degree and a license before you can pursue a nursing job. At Harding University, you can earn your nursing degree in as few as 16 months with our accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing (ABSN) program. After graduating and successfully passing the licensure exam, you can pursue any number of nursing specialties.
What Is Telehealth Nursing, Exactly?
Telehealth is a care model involving the remote delivery of health care services. Nurses and other health care providers can provide telehealth care. It involves using technology — from phones to high-tech videoconferencing software — to connect with patients not physically present at the health care facility.
A telehealth nurse may work from a hospital, doctor’s office or other health care site. Some telehealth nurses work from home. Insurance companies and home health agencies are other examples of health care employers that may hire telehealth nurses.
From these settings, nurses can assess patients’ symptoms and provide recommendations. Telehealth nursing also enables the remote monitoring of patients’ conditions using sensors, monitors or health care apps that deliver critical health information to providers.
What is nursing school like? Learn all about it here!
What Do Telehealth Nurses Do?
Like an RN who sees patients at in-person appointments, a telehealth nurse prioritizes patient care and safety. No two days are alike, and the specific responsibilities of a telehealth nurse depend on their area of practice (e.g., pediatrics, adult-gerontology, etc.) and the patient cases they see on any given day.
In general, however, a telehealth nurse may do the following:
- Conduct remote patient assessments by reviewing the patient’s medical history and questioning them about their symptoms
- Develop care plans
- Recommend treatment options
- Prescribe medications and send the prescriptions to the patient’s pharmacy (if a nurse practitioner)
- Deliver patient education
- Provide support to patients recovering from surgery
Although many minor medical matters can be handled remotely, others require an in-person component. Telehealth nurses must always be aware of their limitations. It may be necessary to advise that a patient go to the hospital for care or to undergo a diagnostic test. Telehealth nurses may also provide referrals to specialists.
The Benefits of Telehealth Nursing
There are many benefits of telehealth nursing, both for patients and providers. Let’s take a look at some of them.
1. Closer Patient Monitoring
Telehealth nursing doesn’t only involve remote nurse appointments. It also includes remote patient monitoring. Patients with certain medical issues may use sensors, health care apps and similar devices that track health metrics such as blood glucose levels. The devices can send critical data to the patients’ nurses, who can evaluate the data remotely and provide treatment or disease management recommendations as needed.
2. Flexible and Convenient
Both providers and patients often find telehealth to be convenient and flexible. There is no need for a lengthy commute (some telehealth nurses can work from home), and the telehealth model allows providers to see more patients because it reduces the lag time between appointments and discourages no-shows and late arrivals.
3. Promotes Safety
During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth appointments became more popular, with good reason. There is zero risk of spreading germs from one person to another when they aren’t in the same physical location. This helps protect both providers and patients.
4. Increases Access
The U.S. lags behind in health care infrastructure. In fact, about 80% of Americans live in a “medical desert”— an area that doesn’t offer easy access to essential health care services. As an aspiring nurse, you likely feel called to serve others who need help. If you choose to become a telehealth nurse, you can provide care to patients who live in medical deserts and need access to health care services.
In addition to telehealth nursing, you can pursue many other nursing careers. Read about some of the best nursing specialties here!
How to Become a Telehealth Nurse
Now that you know the answer to the question, “What is telehealth nursing?” you may be thinking of pursuing this career. The road to remote nursing offers challenges, but if you have a passion for helping others, it can be well worth the journey.
Step 1: Earn a Nursing Degree
The first step in how to become a telehealth nurse is earning your nursing degree. The good news is that if you have prior non-nursing college education, you might not need to head back to school for another four years.
At Harding University, you can leverage your past education to earn a BSN in as few as 16 months, provided you meet the admissions requirements. These include having at least 64 non-nursing college credits or a bachelor’s degree in another area and completing the nursing prerequisites.
Step 2: Pass the NCLEX-RN
After graduating with your nursing degree, you’ll qualify to sit for the licensure exam. It’s crucial to set aside plenty of time to study for the exam. In fact, it’s recommended that you start studying shortly after beginning your degree program.
You’ll need a great deal of nursing knowledge to pass the NCLEX and sound clinical judgment. This adaptive test evaluates your ability to assess patient scenarios and choose the most appropriate clinical responses. It’s a good idea to take several practice tests to familiarize yourself with the format and content.
Step 3: Gain Clinical Bedside Experience
After passing the NCLEX, you can apply for a nursing license from your state board of nursing. Once you have a license, the next step in the process of how to become a telehealth nurse is gaining some bedside experience.
Even if you plan to focus your career on remote patient care, it’s essential to get at least a few years of in-person health care experience. It can be quite challenging to accurately assess a patient remotely. You won’t be able to conduct a physical exam as you normally would, so you’ll need lots of clinical experience to bridge the gap. When you become a telehealth nurse, your bedside experience will prove invaluable.
Step 4: Consider Obtaining an Optional Certification
In addition to gaining clinical experience, you may wish to bolster your nursing credentials by obtaining one or more optional certifications. Look for certification options in your chosen practice area, whether urgent care or chronic disease management.
There is no certification option specifically intended for telehealth nursing. However, the closest one is the Ambulatory Care Nursing Certification, which includes content in telehealth nursing. This certification is administered by the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing.
Pursue a Range of Nursing Careers at Harding!
At Harding University, you can pursue whichever nursing career best suits you. Our ABSN program allows you to earn your nursing degree in as few as 16 months. Plus, with three start dates per year and no waitlist, you can get started sooner than you might think!
Contact our friendly admissions team today to get started on your nursing career!