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How to Become a Telehealth Nurse

NurseJournal Staff
Updated August 8, 2022
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Learn how to become a telehealth nurse: find out about the step by step process, how much a telehealth nurse gets paid, how to become certified, and more.
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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.

  1. 1

    Earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) From an Accredited Program

    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.

  2. 2

    Pass the NCLEX to Receive RN Licensure

    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.

  3. 3

    Gain Experience in Telehealth Nursing

    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.

  4. 4

    Consider Becoming a Certified Telehealth Nurse

    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.

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Telehealth Nurse Education

The minimum degree requirement for a telehealth nurse is an ADN, but many employers require a BSN degree.

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

question-mark-circleHow 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.

question-mark-circleWhat 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.

question-mark-circleCan 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.

question-mark-circleDo 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.

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