Telenursing is a care delivery method that has been used for decades. Recent studies, however, focus more on the tools used when providing client care and the potential use of telehealth technology to conduct tele-clinical trials or to measure the satisfaction clients have for receiving telephonic health care. The most recent studies have been conducted in New Zealand, Great Britain, and Greenland. One article, though, was a systematic literature review that identified four basic themes in the literature about telenursing: impact on client satisfaction; impact of comorbidities and participation in telenursing care; use of telenursing as a form of intensive care; and training. Of these four themes, the one that has been least studied is the impact of telenursing on nursing education.

Telenursing is expanding throughout the United States. Nurses conduct care “over the telephone” to complete assessments, evaluate medical treatments, and follow-up after hospitalizations. It is a very real and positive approach to client care.

Nurses who provide telephonic care can be employed by health insurance companies, health care systems, and disease management organizations. Nurses who fill these roles have experience in direct client care but may lack comfort in providing care when unable to “see” and “touch” the client. Clients who are enrolled in telenursing programs demonstrate skepticism regarding the purpose and intention of being contacted by a nurse to “talk about” their health.

Although the science behind telenursing is obvious, it is the “art” of telenursing that makes it unique. This approach relies on one of the most basic skills in which we all engage from an early age–communication. Yet the use of this skill can be intimidating to new telephonic nurses.

Telephonic nursing is slowly being introduced into schools of nursing curricula. Reasons for this may include access to call centers with telephonic nurses. The Veteran’s Administration has been identified as one site for students to observe telephonic client care. For telephonic nursing care to be fully embraced, schools of nursing need to identify locations and opportunities for students to observe, learn, and participate in this approach to care delivery.

The foundation of nursing is built on establishing relationships. Therapeutic relationships are those that help facilitate an improvement in health, compliance with prescribed medical regimens, and empower clients to implement actions to improve their own health situations. There is no one better than a telephonic nurse to model and teach the creation and implementation of therapeutic communication.

Unfortunately, there has not been anything written to help teach the nurse how to perform telephonic nursing skills… until now. If you are considering a telephonic nursing care position, then Telehealth Nursing: Tools and Strategies for Optimal Patient Care is for you. If you are a student who is challenged by talking with assigned clients, this text is for you. And, if you are a nurse who is searching for another way to practice your craft, this text is for you.

For those who doubt the value of this care approach, studies that focus on the effectiveness and outcomes are encouraged. Telephonic nursing practice is guided by the 2011 Scope and Standards of Practice for Professional Telehealth Nursing, published by the American Academy of Ambulatory Nursing. Telephonic nursing care is here to stay and will only get better with focused attention and study into the processes and approaches that make it one of the most current and cost-effective methods for client care and teaching.

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Dawna Martich, MSN, RN

Dawna Martich, MSN, RN, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, has spent the majority of her nursing career in staff development and adult learning. Dawna was actively employed with a telenursing company for over a decade and now supports the learning needs of the student and professional nurse with materials and continuing education programs to meet professional standard expectations.

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