Telehealth Nursing: What It Is and What to Expect

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What is telehealth nursing? Telehealth nursing remotely delivers healthcare services—including patient assessments and patient education—via videoconferencing platforms and telephones. The process of how to become a telehealth nurse starts with connecting with an admissions counselor at an accelerated nursing school.

nurse at desk talking to patient virtually on computer

Nursing is a popular career choice for many reasons. People often become nurses because of the lucrative salary potential, favorable job growth rate and the ability to help others in a meaningful, impactful way.

Yet a lesser-known perk of pursuing a nursing career is the ability to choose from a vast range of jobs and specialties. For example, nurses might specialize in emergency medicine or pediatrics, pain management or diabetes care, to name a few.

Technology is further expanding the career possibilities in the nursing field. For instance, nurses who are passionate about technology might decide to specialize in informatics. Others might pursue careers in telehealth nursing. What is telehealth nursing, and what does a telehealth nurse do? Let’s take a closer look, and then we’ll consider how to pursue this career with the University of St. Thomas Houston’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program.

What Is Telehealth Nursing?

Telehealth nursing involves using technology to connect with patients who are not physically present at the healthcare facility. A virtual appointment typically includes patient assessments, health history reviews and treatment explanations. This type of healthcare can also include remote monitoring of patients. For example, patients may use wearable devices to electronically transmit health data, such as blood pressure and glucose levels, to their providers.

Remote nursing has actually been around for quite a while. While recent technological advances have made this approach to nursing more widespread and better than ever, telehealth nursing encompasses not just high-tech videoconferencing software but also phones. Nurses who speak with patients over the phone — from the healthcare facility or the nurse’s home — deliver remote healthcare services.

nursing student in red scrubs reading outside

Is nursing school hard? Learn more about the challenges of nursing school here.

What Does a Telehealth Nurse Do?

Like an in-person nurse, a telehealth nurse completes various tasks depending primarily on the patient’s needs. They may do any of the following:

  • Request and record details of the patient’s health history, current medications and diagnosed conditions
  • Discuss the patient’s present symptoms and health status
  • Collect and review data from the patient’s wearable medical monitoring device
  • Deliver patient education, such as how to manage chronic conditions or change wound dressings after surgery
  • Advise the patient to visit the healthcare facility when necessary

This type of nursing career might seem more straightforward than providing in-person care. Yet, before you commit to pursuing this career pathway, it’s essential to understand that it has distinct challenges. For example, remote nurses must have very sharp patient assessment skills, as it’s more challenging to triage a patient who isn’t physically in the room.

Remote nurses must also have excellent clinical judgment, as they need to know when to tell a patient to come into the facility if they need in-person care. For example, it’s essential to know the difference between a patient experiencing a stomachache versus one who might have a life-threatening ruptured appendix and need a CT scan right away.

two UST nursing students working in lab

The Importance of Remote Nursing

Although it has limitations, telehealth nursing has impressive potential and can benefit patients and clinicians alike. For nurses, this method of providing care allows them to see more patients in less time, which is critically vital in underserved areas. Furthermore, nurses who work remotely have less exposure to infectious diseases and less need for personal protective equipment (PPE).

The benefits to patients are similarly impressive. Patients with access to remote nursing services can enjoy:

  • Greater scheduling convenience (i.e., the ability to fit an appointment into a work break and to see a provider even with childcare challenges)
  • No need to arrange transportation
  • Ability to choose from a broader network of providers
  • Immunocompromised patients can stay safer at home with less germ exposure

In addition, many patients in the U.S. live in healthcare deserts, areas lacking access to vital healthcare services within a reasonable distance. Healthcare deserts are prevalent in rural areas of Texas. For example, 46.5% of counties in Texas are maternal care deserts, without adequate services for individuals who are or could become pregnant. Although telehealth appointments cannot replace in-person care, they can help bridge the gap. If you become a telehealth nurse, you could help patients in rural areas experience better health outcomes.

What else could you do as a nurse? Check out the top 15 career paths for nurses.

Smiling Nurse

Telehealth Nurse Salary & Career Outlook

Before pursuing any career path, it’s wise to consider the job growth rate and salary potential. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t track employment statistics specifically for remote nurses. However, the job growth rate for all types of registered nurses (RNs) is quite favorable. The BLS projects the job growth rate to be 6% from 2022 through 2032, faster than average, indicating that healthcare employers expect to hire about 177,400 new nurses during this period.

Similarly, telehealth nurse salary data isn’t available, and individual salary potential will vary. However, the median annual salary for all types of RNs as of May 2022 was $81,220.

How to Become a Telehealth Nurse

Now that you know what these professionals do, let’s explore how to become a telehealth nurse.

Contact an Admissions Counselor

If you already have a non-nursing college education, then the first step toward pursuing a rewarding career in nursing is to contact an admissions counselor at an accelerated nursing school. If you reach out to UST’s ABSN program, you’ll be matched with a dedicated admissions counselor who will help you navigate every step of the process and answer all your questions at length.

It’s helpful to have a copy of your unofficial college transcripts on hand. Your admissions counselor will review it to determine your eligibility for the program and which prerequisite courses you might need to take.

Take Prerequisite Courses

UST nursing students studying at table

Prerequisite courses ensure you’re ready to tackle the challenging nursing school curriculum. The type and number of prerequisites you must take depends on your prior education. For example, you may need to take microbiology and algebra or statistics. The ABSN program at UST requires fewer prerequisites than many other accelerated nursing schools.

After completing the prerequisites, you’ll finalize and submit your application package. Your counselor can help ensure your application package is complete and competitive.

Earn Your Nursing Degree

Once you start nursing school, you’ll take a blend of coursework and experiential learning components. The ABSN program at UST offers online classes for greater convenience. You’ll also visit the campus for nursing skills and simulation labs and complete clinical rotations at area healthcare facilities.

Pass the NCLEX-RN

After graduating from nursing school, you’ll be ready to sit for the NCLEX-RN. You must pass this national licensure exam to obtain your nursing license. The NCLEX is quite rigorous, so plan on beginning your NCLEX prep shortly after starting nursing school.

Gain Some Clinical Experience

UST nursing students working in sim lab

Before pursuing a career in remote nursing, you’ll need to gain some in-person clinical experience. Remote nurses must rely on sharp assessment skills to overcome the challenges of treating patients from a distance. You’ll first need to work with patients at their bedside to develop your nursing skills.

Once you’ve passed the NCLEX and obtained state licensure, you can send out applications for your first nursing job. Look for a position in your nursing specialty, but be open to other possibilities. After you’ve gained at least a few years of clinical experience, you can start exploring telehealth job possibilities.

woman in red sweater sitting at desk using laptop

Eager to get started? Learn how to apply for nursing school now.

Take the First Step Toward a Career in Telehealth Nursing

The University of St. Thomas Houston is committed to supporting the success of our students. Not only could you graduate with your nursing degree in as few as 12 months, but you’ll also benefit from small class sizes, nursing instructors who go above and beyond and Academic Success Coaches who work with you one-on-one to help you overcome challenges.

Are you ready to take the first step toward a rewarding career as a telehealth nurse? Contact our admissions counselors today to discuss the admissions requirements for the ABSN program at UST.