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What is Telenursing and Should I Give It a Try?

Career News October 28, 2013

Telenursing which is industry speak for Telemetry Nursing or nurses who take care of patients on a telemetry unit. Telemetry is used to monitory the electrical rhythms of the heart, which makes telenursing part of the cardiac nursing profession.

Telemetry nurses are in states where nursing ratios are enforced usually has up to 3 patients per each nurse. They are required to primary care, which means that they are responsible for all of the care that their patients require. Some hospitals also provide Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA’s) and a Telemetry Clerk, in addition to a charge nurse, on busy Telemetry Units.

People who are interested in becoming Telemetry Nurses should enjoy providing direct patient care. There should be interest in the functions of the human heart, and the diseases that impact heart health.

The Dynamics of the Telemetry Unit

A telemetry nursing unit is often between Medical/Surgical nursing and ICU or CCU in skill levels, though sometimes the telemetry nursing unit is part of the Medical/Surgical unit. It is not uncommon in larger hospitals to find more than one type of telemetry nursing unit. The Sub-Telemetry unit is often associated with Medical/Surgical patients who may need telemetry monitoring care, in addition to care that is provided for their initial diagnosis. There is also a somewhat natural progression towards telemetry, for those nurses who work in Medical/Surgical units and wish for a more specialized unit. Telemetry Nursing can be a stepping stone into ICU, CCU, ER, or even super-specialized units like the Cardiac Catheter Lab.

Education Requirements

To become a Registered Nurse requires that you graduate from an accredited nursing program and that you pass the state exam for registered nurses. The specific guidelines for this exam vary from state to state. Many acute care hospitals require nurses to have a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN) and a Masters degree in Nursing for management positions.

Because of the skill level that is required of telemetry nurses secondary certifications are often required before nurses are permitted to work on a telemetry unit. Telemetry certification teaches nurses how to work telemetry equipment, where to place the electrodes, and how to interpret the telemetry signal. Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) is often also part of the requirements to work on a telemetry nursing unit.

Job Statistics and Compensation

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the mean hourly wage for a specialty RN, such as a telemetry nurse is $35.73 per hour. This figure may not include shift differential and other wage related perks that go along with a career in nursing. The mean annual wage for specialty nurses is $74,310 which is slightly higher than that of a Medical/Surgical RN who has a mean annual salary of $69,810. In general, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast 711,900 open positions between 2010-2020. The expected job growth for a Registered Nurse is 26% which is deemed faster than the average job growth rate. Note: the 26% job growth rate is for all RN positions and not just for specialty nurses. The fact that so many jobs are expected to open up by 2020 means that competition for nursing jobs is very low. In fact, many within the healthcare industry refer to the lack of nurses as a nursing shortage. As such, specialized programs exist through the federal government that will help new nurses repay a large percent of their student loans if the nurse works for a specific period in a special needs hospital.

If you are considering becoming a telenurse, than now is the perfect time to being that process. There are a lot of rewards in being a nurse, and a telemetry nurse has many career opportunities for advancement.

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