A triage nurse afraid to answer the phone!

  1. I love this new job. Finally- normal hours with weekends/holidays off! It's a brand-new clinic with nice coworkers (for the most part!)

    The reason the clinic hires LPNs is that per this company's policy, medical assistants cannot give out injections. A nurse must administer the injection.
    Here's my problem-
    Since that alone wouldn't make a 40hr job (as nice as that would be), the LPN is at a desk answering phone calls. Unless transferred to me by another staff member, a patient or another office can get to my line by pressing 4 for "Medical Advice" when they listen to our phone-menu options.

    Sometimes I get the run-of-the-mill stuff... a sick patient wondering if she should wait out her symptoms or be seen in the office soon, etc. But often times I get the weirdest requests that are often billing issues and other things not pertaining to me. I've compiled the list of necessary numbers to transfer these people, but it still makes me anxious.

    I get an intense fear of answering the phone because I do not know what's waiting for me on the other end of the line. I am afraid I'll give the wrong information, sound stupid, or not know how to help the person calling me. Often I let the calls go to voicemail and get right back to the person (that way I can gather the necessary info I need by opening up their chart, etc. before I call them back) but I know I'm not supposed to be doing this.
    I have no problem calling people back- it's just answering the phone that I'm so afraid of.

    Can anyone offer some advice on how to overcome the fear? Any other phone-phobic clinic nurses around here?

    Thanks so much!
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    About RxOnly

    Joined: Nov '10; Posts: 141; Likes: 160
    Ambulatory Care Nurse; from US
    Specialty: 4 year(s) of experience in Psych/Substance Abuse, Ambulatory Care


  3. by   Double-Helix
    Sounds like this is a "practice-makes-perfect" situation. The only way that you're going to feel more comfortable answering call like this is by doing it. It might help if, in your time off, you self-role play a few situations that you think might trip you up and choreograph some responses to tricky questions or to use when you don't know what to say.

    Remember that if you feel you're out of your depth, it's perfectly fine to say, "Let me check with the doctor and get right back to you."
  4. by   RxOnly
    Quote from Ashley, PICU RN
    Remember that if you feel you're out of your depth, it's perfectly fine to say, "Let me check with the doctor and get right back to you."
    Thanks Ashley
    I have used this line before (which also made the patient angry because she wanted all of her questions answered right that minute)... but I felt like it was the only thing I could say. I have said it to others without an issue.

    If anyone knows of some other good choreographed responses, please feel free to send them my way!
  5. by   mama2
    I felt this way at first, too! I went and bought myself a telephone triage book, and started compiling my own rolodex of phone numbers. You will get better with time I promise.
  6. by   plf2323
    I am also relatively new working in an office setting and triage is the thing I am most anxious about as well. I have no problem telling the patient that I am not sure of the answer, that I will discuss it with the doctor, and call them back. Most patients are fine with that. I would rather keep them waiting a little for a call back then give out incorrect information. It is the fear of the unknown (ie: what is at the other end of the line) that is anxiety-producing. And my biggest fear is I will tell someone something incorrect that will affect their health.