How to Become a Triage Nurse


Triage nurses are registered nurses who generally work in an emergency room setting and offer direct care to patients. These medical professionals may be responsible for the initial treatment and care of emergency room patients. Duties and responsibilities include quickly and accurately assessing patient conditions, taking medical histories, monitoring vital signs, administering medications, taking blood and transporting patients to imaging and operating rooms. Triage nurses must ensure that patients in need of immediate care get the attention they need. According to, as of 2010, the average salary for a triage nurse was $71,000 per year.

Things You'll Need

  • A registered nursing certificate
  • Specialized emergency nursing triage clinical training
  • Enroll in a registered nursing (RN) program. RN programs can be found in community and vocational colleges. These two-year, Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree programs teach you about the fundamentals of nursing and patient care. The curriculum includes courses in anatomy and physiology, chemistry, medical terminology, behavioral science, nutrition and pharmacology.

  • Participate in clinical training. Clinical training is often part of a registered nursing degree program and takes place in a hospital or clinic. This is an opportunity for you to receive hands on experience and work under an experience registered nurse.

  • Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). This is a written exam that ensures that you have the knowledge and abilities to work as an entry-level nurse. The exam covers topics in individual health promotion and maintenance, basic care and comfort, pharmacological therapies, management of care, comping mechanisms, grief and loss, safe and effective care management and health promotion.

  • Enroll in an emergency nursing triage training program approved by the Emergency Nurses Association. This certificate program prepares you for working in an emergency department as a triage nurse. The curriculum covers topics in triage protocols, expediting patient care, legal issues in emergency nursing care, rapid patient assessment and in the purpose of triage nursing.

  • Look for employment opportunities in a hospital's emergency department. While many opportunities may be available online, it's important to contact the human resources department within a medical facility. Job openings will likely be more prevalent in urban areas.

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