Burned out on telephone triage

Updated | Posted
by Mnstn Mnstn, BSN, RN Member

Specializes in Pediatrics, Neurology, Public Health Education. Has 9 years experience.

I've been doing telephone triage for pediatric and adult neurology clinics for roughly 3 years. I've been burned out for so long. It's exhausting to sit all day, get yelled at on the phone and never be thanked for what I do. I answer between 50 to 70 calls per day not including call backs, result calls and occasionally PAs. You're the messenger so we take all the anger of the person on the phone, even when it's not our fault. It's awful. I'm getting away from it all in a few months with a career change but I was wondering if other nurses felt the same.

advicenurse1

advicenurse1, ADN, BSN, RN

Has 20 years experience. 9 Posts

I did telephone triage for about 1 1/2 years for neurology. It is a very demanding job and you are so right about the caller getting upset with the messenger. Ive been cursed out more times than I care to mention over pain meds mostly. I dealt mostly with the NPs and PAs and they would escalate to the doctor if they couldn't handle the issue. I found most of them more arrogant and sharp tongued than the physician. After a year and a half I had enough and transferred to another office position. I work for a large teaching hospital and opportunities are limitless. I'm much happier since I left telephone triage.

ivyleaf

ivyleaf

Specializes in Ambulatory Case Management, Clinic, Psychiatry. Has 15 years experience. 366 Posts

I had a similar experience doing phone triage in primary care. Taking one call after another without any control is exhausting

teegeo

teegeo

16 Posts

Hello, we are going to a centralized telephone triage center. We are a large cancer center and I have always had a dedicated line for my patients to call me. I fear that the personalization of medicine will be lost. Any one else have experience going to a centralized telephone triage center?

Thisisit123

Thisisit123

1 Post

Teegeo the system I work for is slowing transiting to a triage call center. First it was just a scheduling call center. Now they are trying to do the same with triage nurses. When I started 6 years ago I triaged for one office, then 2, and just recently added a 4th. I dislike it greatly. The patient's don't like it. It is impersonal. I knew my patients and now they are talking to nurses who don't know their history without reviewing the entire chart. I don't see what the supposed benefit is. I spend 25% of my time transferring to other nurses or offices for stuff they have to take care of. And yes, I am burnt out!

2BS Nurse, BSN

Has 9 years experience. 675 Posts

On 3/16/2019 at 7:59 PM, advicenurse1 said:

I did telephone triage for about 1 1/2 years for neurology. It is a very demanding job and you are so right about the caller getting upset with the messenger. Ive been cursed out more times than I care to mention over pain meds mostly. I dealt mostly with the NPs and PAs and they would escalate to the doctor if they couldn't handle the issue. I found most of them more arrogant and sharp tongued than the physician. After a year and a half I had enough and transferred to another office position. I work for a large teaching hospital and opportunities are limitless. I'm much happier since I left telephone triage.

What kind of position do you have now, and do you like it?

YES!! Phone triage is SO hard. When I did out patient pediatrics many moons ago, all the RNs in the clinic had to rotate through two shifts per week on phones and we all dreaded it. You are so right about having to be on the receiving end of the caller's anger. That was the worse part for me.

spaghetina

spaghetina

73 Posts

I took a triage position in OBGYN about 4 months ago for a change of pace from direct patient care. It's not strictly phone - we also handle the physician's in basket messages, where I'd say 80% of questions/problems/complaints come from, and I'm already burnt out. I'll be leaving in less than 2 weeks to go back to what I consider much more normal patient care, where people need to yell at me to my face, instead of sending vitriolic messages or getting snippy with me on the phone. I don't know how  anyone does it long term, but I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to try it out, so that I can now say that I don't ever want to do it again. 

T-Bird78

T-Bird78

Has 6 years experience. 1,007 Posts

Hugs. I agree completely. Our office doesn’t have designated phone triage staff, we rotate working with physicians and doing phones/cleaning rooms/processing instruments/etc.  I tell pts the exact same thing the doctor will tell them (standing protocol) and am told to ask the doctor anyway, so I get enjoyment out of telling them doc said x, y, and z (like I told you). This year has been HORRIBLE with the COVID stuff going on and I’m not getting yelled at just over the phone anymore, I’m getting chewed out/yelled at/insulted in person too. Then add the doctors attitudes and I’m ready to leave nursing, if not healthcare completely.