Julie White-Dahlgren, RN, a Triage Nurse who manages Park Nicollet Health Services' central nurse lines, talks about her job.
Q: What's a typical workday like for you?
When I come in, I begin returning messages taken by our Patient Service Center. At 8 a.m., I start taking calls. I use prompts and guidelines to assist adult and pediatric patients in all specialties, obstetrics and gynecology, family practice and internal medicine. If I have concerns or question the acuity of the patient, I will consult with a clinician.
Q: How does your role fit into the bigger healthcare picture?
I care for many patients who need only home advice or reassurance for minor ailments. I support the physicians and do a lot of follow-up care, explaining what physicians told patients, educating patients and reassuring them between appointments, especially the chronic care patients. Physicians can't do everything. I think of it as a team.
Q: Who do you interact with during the course of the day?
I interact with clinicians, the front line staff, rooming nurses, nursing homes, outside healthcare systems, hospitals, pharmacists, patients and their families, and Park Nicollet hospital and clinic staffs.
Q: Why did you become a triage nurse?
I felt physically burnt out working in a hospital for many years. I feel more independent and can use my critical thinking skills as a triage nurse. I can continue to work with patients and care for them by phone.
Q: What do you like about your work?
I like educating patients on how to take care of themselves, especially elderly patients. Even though I don't see them, I can still build good relationships with them. It's great that we're available 24/7 because patients do not only get sick during regular office hours.