As virtual healthcare services become more common, the demand for telehealth nurses grows. Telehealth nurses provide patients with distance healthcare by employing virtual visits and remote monitoring.
Nurses and other healthcare providers can offer remote clinical care, maintain public health, and administer health insurance programs using telehealth services.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 9% growth in jobs for registered nurses between 2020 to 2030. The average salary for telehealth nursing is $31.30/ hour, according to a small sampling of December 2021 Payscale data.
Discover how to become a telehealth nurse below.
What Is a Telehealth Nurse?
Telehealth nurses work remotely to promote wellness, provide care, perform triage (i.e., assigning the level of urgency based on an assessment), manage cases, or perform other jobs, like informatics.
Telehealth is healthcare provided via electronic means. It can involve phone interactions, remote monitoring, or online video chats.
RNs working as telehealth nurses often gather information (e.g., symptoms or conditions) from the patient to pass on to the treating physician or nurse practitioner.
They often perform initial screenings to find out if an onsite visit is necessary. Telehealth nurses get information about a patient via medical devices, like digital scopes and wearable monitors that send data to the nurse via a healthcare app.
Steps to Becoming a Telehealth Nurse
Becoming a telehealth nurse includes earning a qualifying degree from an accredited college or university, passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) exam for nurse licensure, gaining bedside experience as a registered nurse (RN), and becoming certified. Licensure requirements vary from state to state.
Consider which accredited nursing program would be best for you. A telehealth nurse need either a two-year ADN or a four-year BSN. If you already have an ADN, you may consider an RN-to-BSN bridge program.
Once you decide on the program you want, find out the admission requirements. Apply for admission and complete all program coursework required for graduation, this includes any on-site clinical practicums.
The NCLEX-RN exam is considered an adaptive test; nurse graduates take between 75 to 265 questions for RN licensure. Taking the test involves registering for an exam location, studying for the test, taking the exam at an official test center, and finally, getting the test results after a six week waiting period.
Students can find many online resources/study guides and practice tests to prepare for the exam. You must get a passing grade on the exam to earn your RN license.
While there are no specific prerequisites for becoming a telehealth nurse, many employers require several years bedside experience as a licensed RN.
Recent graduates can gain experience by working in entry-level nursing jobs, like those on a hospital medical/surgical unit.
Nurses can also volunteer or take internships to gain experience. Telehealth nurses should be proficient with computers and technology as some of their work may require troubleshooting on their own.
Telehealth nurses do not need certification, but certification gives RNs an advantage in the job market. Currently, the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses (AAACN) does not offer a telehealth nursing certification. Instead, the AAACN encourages telehealth nurses to pursue the ambulatory care nursing certification exam.
Nurses provide care to patients in an ambulatory setting, therefore, telehealth nursing is considered an integral part of ambulatory care. The specialty board certification for ambulatory care credential is an Ambulatory Care Nursing Certification (AMB-BC). Find testing centers or online testing here.
Featured Online RN-to-BSN Programs
Telehealth Nurse Education
The minimum degree requirement for a telehealth nurse is an ADN, but many employers require a BSN degree.
An ADN (ADN) requires two years and 60-75 credits to complete. It is best suited for nurses who do not want to go into administrative roles. An ADN prepares students to pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
A GED certificate or high school diploma with a GPA of 2.0 or higher, math and science classes, and/or related work experience such as volunteer work, CPR, first aid, or experience as a nursing assistant (CNA)
Coursework in sciences (e.g., microbiology, anatomy and physiology), nursing fundamentals, specialty nursing (e.g., maternal health and pediatric nursing), and clinical practicums (i.e., hands-on experience)
Communication, time management, nursing practice planning and safe implementation, laws and ethics, and clinical nursing skills.
A BSN degree requires four years and 120 credits to complete. RNs with a BSN can perform the same clinical job duties as those with an ADN, but nurses with a BSN have more career options, such as nursing administration jobs. You can select from several BSN programs (e.g., traditional four-year BSN, RN-to-BSN and Second Degree BSN). A BSN also prepares students to pass the NCLEX-RN.
A GED certificate/ high school diploma with a GPA of 2.5 or higher and math and science coursework, a 3.0 GPA for college transfer credits, and satisfactory SAT or ACT scores, as well as letters of recommendation.
A BSN includes much of the same curriculum as an ADN, with additional coursework in leadership, public health nursing, communication, nursing management, social sciences, and critical thinking. Clinical practicums are also required.
Nursing practice planning and safe implementation, nursing research, leadership, nursing management, public health, community health/teaching, nursing informatics.
Telehealth Nurse Licensure and Certification
As stated earlier The AAACN offers no certification course for telehealth nurses, but recommends that telehealth nurses pursue board certified Ambulatory Care Nurse (AMB-BC) credentials.
Ambulatory care nurses must be licensed as RNs. Nurses need to renew their RN licensure annually. Each state has different renewal requirements, but all RNs are required to take continuing education (CE) classes.
Check with your state board of licensure to find out how many CEs you need for yearly licensing renewal. Once you receive your RN license, there are other prerequisites for AMB-BC certification, including:
- A current, active RN license from the U.S.
- Two years’ RN work experience (full time)
- A minimum of 2,000 ambulatory care clinical practice hours within the past three years
- 30 hours of CE classes in ambulatory care in the past three years.
Once you meet certification requirements, you can apply for testing online here. Applications are accepted year-round. The initial step is getting an authorization to test (ATT).
Next, pass the in-person or live, online certification test. Finally, wait for your results. Every five years, you need to renew your AMB-BC certification.
Working as a Telehealth Nurse
According to 29 profiles Payscale sampled in December 2021, the average base salary for telehealth nurses is $31.30 per hour, with an annual wage ranging $43,000 – $88,000.
A telehealth nurse may work in clinics (e.g., physicians practices), hospitals, or other healthcare settings. They may even work remotely from home. Most telehealth nurses perform some of the same job duties, such as virtual video or phone visits to assess a patient’s symptoms.
Telehealth nurses working in a hospital setting may perform follow-up care after a hospital discharges a patient. Nurses working in a physician’s practice or ambulatory care center may monitor patients after a procedure, or evaluate whether an in-person visit is necessary.
RNs working from home can perform some jobs, such as triage or case management, but they cannot perform direct patient care.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Telehealth Nurse
How long does it take to become a telehealth nurse?
It takes two to four years to become an RN, but most employers require several years’ experience caring for patients at the bedside before working as a telehealth nurse.
What do telehealth nurses do?
Telehealth nurses can perform many job duties, including: direct patient care, triage, case management, interpreting remote patient monitoring, performing patient education, and more.
Can a telehealth nurse prescribe medicine?
A registered nurse may not prescribe medication, but a nurse practitioner can prescribe certain medications under the supervision of an M.D.
Do telehealth nurses get paid well?
The pay for telehealth nurses can vary depending on the setting you work in, your education and experience level, and whether you are certified. According to 2021 Payscale data, a telehealth nurse makes between $43k – $88k per year.