All in a Day's Work: Julie White-Dahlgren, RN

  • Article by: STAR TRIBUNE SALES and MARKETING , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: December 2, 2009 - 2:01 PM

Julie White-Dahlgren, RN, a Triage Nurse who manages Park Nicollet Health Services' central nurse lines, talks about her job.

Photo: Photo by: Tom Witta,

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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.

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