How to Become a Telehealth Nurse

April 25, 2024


Reviewed by:

Luke Hartstein

Former Admissions Committee Member, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Reviewed: 4/25/24

There are several nursing specialities for RNs to choose from. One in-demand specialty is telehealth nursing, which is what this guide will explore further!

In an increasingly digital age, it’s no surprise that technology has drastically changed the medical field. One such way technology has infiltrated medicine is the creation of telemedicine. Telemedicine encompasses any care that is delivered by distance through the use of computers, phones, apps, and more. 

Telehealth nurses are vital parts of medical care, and this field has become increasingly popular amongst nursing school graduates! To learn more about how to become a telehealth nurse, the duties they perform, and their expected job outlook, read on!

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Steps to Becoming a Telehealth Nurse

Providing medical care at any level requires a high level of training. While telehealth nurses do not deal with patients in a direct manner or treat them, they’re still required to have a thorough understanding of medicine. 

Gaining this expertise can take anywhere from three to eight years, depending on the education and experience you pursue. Here are the steps that will influence your timeline to becoming a telehealth nurse:

Step One: Maintain High Grades in High School

Your high school grades will have a major impact on your career trajectory. These grades will directly influence the type of nursing school you get accepted into. As such, you should maintain a high GPA to ensure you have the most opportunity. 

Step Two: Gain Useful Volunteer Experience

As an aspiring nurse, you want to demonstrate your dedication to the field by gaining basic clinical experience while you’re in high school. As a student, it’ll be difficult to gain paid placements working with patients, but you should be able to find volunteer positions at local clinics, hospitals, or shelters.

There are also several medical volunteer brigades that students can join to travel abroad and help patients in developing countries.

Aside from gaining volunteer experience, ensure you also participate in useful extracurriculars. These do not have to be medical-related but should involve your passions and hobbies!

Step Three: Consider Writing the SAT or ACT

While more schools are opting for test-optional application cycles, there are still several nursing schools that require students to write the SAT or ACT to be considered for admission.

Either test will suffice, but it’s imperative you create a good study plan that can help you reach your target score.

Step Four: Choose the Right Degree

There are two degrees you can pursue to become a telehealth nurse. While both degrees give you an RN designation, they offer different benefits.

One of the degrees you can pursue is an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN). While this degree will only take two years to complete and will have lower score requirements, it doesn't hold the same weight as a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN).

BSNs are the preferred degree for RNs but take double the amount of time to complete. These four-year programs equip nurses with a comprehensive medical foundation and extensive practical training to prepare them for all entry-level nursing careers.

Depending on your desired time frame, budget, and career goals, you should pick the degree that best suits your needs. There are many nursing schools without prerequisites, as well as several accelerated programs that allow ADN holders to pursue BSNs in as little as two years.

Step Five: Go to Nursing School

Once you’ve submitted your applications and received offer letters from your top choices, consider your decision wisely. Research the resources, support, and experiences these schools can offer you, so you can make the most informed decision.

Once you’ve accepted an offer, prepare to spend the next two or four years completing a rigorous curriculum to learn the fundamentals of nursing. 

Step Six: Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam

By this stage you’ve received the necessary education to become an RN. The next step is to prove you’ve absorbed this knowledge and can apply it in various situations.

The NCLEX-RN exam will assess four major Client Need categories:

  • Safe and effective care management: including management of care, safety, and infection control
  • Health promotion and maintenance: to assess students’ knowledge of growth and development, prevention and early detection of health issues, and how to achieve optimal health 
  • Psychosocial integrity: involving the promotion of the social, emotional, and mental well-being of patients
  • Physiological integrity: to test students’ ability to provide basic care and comfort, administer pharmacological therapies, reduce risk potential, and understand the alterations of the body

Passing the NCLEX exam is necessary to receive licensing to practice as an independent RN. 

Step Seven: Gain Experience in Nursing

Most telehealth positions will ask that nurses have a minimum of one to four years of bedside nursing. This experience will make you a more effective telehealth nurse as you’ll be expected to care for patients without actually touching them!

Step Eight: Consider Becoming a Certified Telehealth Nurse

While there is no specific certification for telehealth nursing, many nurses wishing to pursue this career complete an Ambulatory Care Nursing Certification exam. This exam involves content on telehealth nursing, as it’s integral to ambulatory care.

Nurses planning on receiving this certification must have the following:

  • Two years of full-time practice, or the equivalent, as an RN
  • A minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in ambulatory care nursing within the last three years
  • 30 hours of continuing education in ambulatory care nursing within the last three years

Completing this exam is not necessary but can give you an advantage in your job search!

What Does a Telehealth Nurse Do?

Now that we’ve discussed how to become a telehealth nurse, your next inquiry might be what do telehealth nurses do? Broadly, telehealth nurses provide healthcare, education, and administration using telecommunication technologies and electronic channels such as the internet. 

More specifically, they perform the following medical tasks:

  • Communicating health care information to patients in remote settings
  • Speaking to mothers about possible labor symptoms and infant health
  • Discussing pharmacological issues with patients, such as refills
  • Discussing lab results
  • Assisting with appointment scheduling
  • Clarifying treatment options and answering questions about medications
  • Providing patients with education about self-care at home such as dressing burns or wounds
  • Helping potential patients assess the extent of their injuries and the necessity of emergency services
  • Guiding patients on pre-operative and post-operative care
  • Conducting live, synchronous, video conferencing 
  • Conducting remote patient monitoring (RPM) using connected electronic tools to record personal health data 
  • Providing mobile health updates involving notifications about disease outbreak and general and targeted educational texts
  • Assisting with ambulance dispatch in life-threatening situations

Overall, these professionals increase the efficiency of healthcare and ensure medical care is accessible to a broader range of patients. Since they rely on the use of telecommunication channels and devices to perform these tasks, telehealth nurses are able to work remotely—which is typically unheard of in any other nursing specialty!

Since they’re able to work remotely, this job offers a high level of flexibility, which is another draw for nursing students considering this profession!

Telehealth Nurse Salary and Job Outlook

Considering 90% of healthcare executives say they plan on implementing telehealth programs at their clinics and hospitals, there is an increasing demand for these professionals. 

Telehealth nurses make an average of $81,220 a year, but this salary can increase or decrease depending on their location and experience.

FAQs: How to Become a Telehealth Nurse

For any remaining questions on how to become a certified telehealth nurse, read on to find your answers.

1. Is Telehealth Nursing Easy?

No, being a telehealth nurse is challenging! These nurses must have significant experience treating a range of illnesses and issues to be able to adequately care for patients without direct contact. Telehealth goes against normal healthcare practice, which involves face-to-face interactions and the ability to perform physical assessments.

Accordingly, these nurses must be able to provide the best care they can without performing any direct assessments.

2. What Do Nurses Do in Telehealth

Nurses in telehealth offer a range of medical services relating to health promotion, education, and assessment. Using telecommunications devices like computers, apps, and phones, and different channels like the internet, they offer more accessible health care to patients. 

3. What Skills Do You Need to Be a Telehealth Nurse?

Of course, you don’t simply want to know how to become a telehealth nurse, you want to know how to become the best telehealth nurse you can! 

To provide the most effective care to your patients you should have the following skills:

  • Communication: to be able to effectively guide and inform your patients
  • Critical-thinking: to follow high-level methodology to provide the best care remotely, without physically being able to assess the patient 
  • Technology: telehealth is constantly evolving and nurses must keep up with these updates 

It’s important that telehealth nurses also have a high degree of knowledge in nursing. You will be expected to treat diverse patients with a range of issues. 

4. Are Telehealth Nurses in Demand?

Yes, telehealth nurses are in high demand, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic when people wanted to connect with healthcare professionals without leaving their homes! In fact, at the peak of the pandemic, telehealth use increased 38 times

After this great increase in telehealth service providers, it was found patients were more likely to take proactive approaches to their care, patients experienced less financial burden, and there was higher patient retention, as telehealth nurses were available around the clock. 

Considering this positive feedback, many medical institutions have maintained these services or increased them, meaning there is still high demand for these nurses post-pandemic.

5. How Long Does It Take to Become a Telehealth Nurse?

Depending on the degree and job you pursue, it can take anywhere from three to eight years to become a telehealth nurse. You can either complete a two-year ADN and gain at least one year of clinic experience or complete a four-year BSN degree and gain one to four years of experience.

Telehealth nurses are required to have a diverse and experienced resume, so most jobs will require you to have at least two years of bedside experience!

6. Is There a Certification for Telehealth Nursing?

No, there is no official certification in telehealth nursing. While the National Certification Corporation (NCC) used to offer a telehealth certification, it was discontinued in 2007. As an alternative, it’s recommended nurses obtain an Ambulatory Care Nursing Certification through the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN). 

This certification involves content on telehealth nursing and is considered to be sufficient to prove nurses have the required knowledge and expertise to provide telehealth services.

Final Thoughts

Technology continues to play a larger role in society as it offers people more convenience and efficiency. The healthcare sector is no exception—telehealth has had a great impact on patient care and is becoming increasingly popular in medical institutions. 

By following the steps shared in this guide, you can join this growing profession and be part of a fast advancing medical field!

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