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Duties and Responsibilities of a Telemetry Nurse

Duties and Responsibilities of a Telemetry Nurse

What does a telemetry nurse do? They are involved in the care of critical-condition patients who have been shifted from intensive care units. They are also called progressive care or step-down nurses. The various duties that are expected from them are explained in this CareerStint article.
CareerStint Staff
Fact of the Matter
It is predicted that the requirement for nurses is expected to grow much faster than other occupations till the year 2018. The job prospects for telemetry nurses remains excellent, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Measurement of parameters using complex equipment, and the transmission of this data to a recording and monitoring facility is called telemetry. Basically, telemetry nurses provide care to patients by connecting them to electronic medical equipment that measures their vital signs. The machines send this data to recording and display equipment (computer monitors) which is monitored by the nurses. Remote telemetry also allows nurses to monitor all the patients' condition from the nursing station itself.
Training Required
  • To qualify for telemetry training, one requires a high school diploma at the least.
  • Training includes telemetry equipment training, along with an advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) certification. This certification gives the students skills on using electronic monitoring equipment such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) and give details of the patient's heart rate to the medical team.
  • Most hospitals though, prefer nurses with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree along with their telemetry certification.
  • Telemetry nurses have to clear a certification exam to become a progressive care certified nurse (PCCN).
  • It is also advantageous to take a few online courses or short-term courses in telemetry nursing.
  • To become a telemetry nurse, one should compulsorily have a registered nurse (RN) license.
  • To obtain this license, a person has to first obtain at least an associate degree in nursing science, and then clear the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
Duties of a Telemetry Nurse
  • Telemetry nurses generally work in hospitals or in units that are called step-down units. Patients that have been shifted from the intensive care, but are still too critical to be placed in the general ward, are lodged in these step-down units. Such patients are in danger of developing complications or relapsing.
  • They are required to have technical knowledge of complicated medical equipment that are used to monitor a patient's health, and to interpret the equipment analysis. Knowledge of life support systems is necessary.
  • These nurses mostly monitor the electrocardiogram readout of patients. The electrocardiogram shows the heart function of the patient in a rhythmic fashion. Any change in the rhythm indicates cardiac abnormality, which is when the nurse needs to consult the doctor.
  • They supervise the various health parameters of a patient, such as blood pressure, heart activity, blood oxygen saturation, breathing activity, and so on.
  • They should be well-versed with calculations of drug dosages as well as administering concoctions of continuous medications like platelet inhibitors.
  • Telemetry nurse duties involve intrusive procedures to monitor the health of patients.
  • They provide bedside care to patients, but do not spend a lot of time at any particular patient's bedside, since most nurses only stay in step-down units for a certain period of time.
  • General care, medication, monitoring, and prescription of a post-treatment care plan is done by them.
  • They also have to go through the previous medical history of the patient and ensure that there is no adverse reaction between different medications.
  • They are trained to provide medication through oral, subcutaneous, or intravenous drip routes.
  • Since most patients in step-down units have suffered cardiac arrest, several telemetry nurses have specializations in cardiac telemetry.
  • They need to supervise the recovery of patients and help the medical team create treatment plans. They also help the physician go through various procedures and tackle emergencies.
  • The job is fast-paced, and there is a strong requirement of good interpersonal skills, along with multitasking abilities.
  • Telemetry nurses may also work outside hospitals in companies that offer services to cardiac patients at their homes.
  • They are involved in informing the patient and his/her family about the prevailing medical condition, as instructed by the doctor. They have to educate patients on all aspects of illness management, such as self-medication, diet cum exercise plan, and also on the rehabilitation process after they leave the hospital.
  • They are also involved in the monitoring of neurological conditions and sleep disorders. In this case, they are required to monitor the electroencephalograms of patients and identify any adverse readouts.
  • In case of abnormal recording shown by the monitoring equipment, these nurses are authorized to start the process of corrective action.
  • Since patients in step-down units require continuous monitoring, telemetry nurses have to work in long, variable shifts, involving days, nights, weekends, and holidays.
  • They may also have to take up whatever extra duties that they have been assigned to.
  • They have to also keep the religious and cultural beliefs of patients in mind.
  • The job requires a certain level of physical fitness, due to the need of shifting of patients and equipment as and when required. Proper care of the bodily alignment of patients is necessary to avoid injury or discomfort.
  • Telemetry nurses are expected to adhere to professional nursing conventions while on duty.
  • They play an important role in implementing the treatment plan laid down by the physician.
  • Knowledge of specific medical conditions along with their methods of treatment is required.
  • Telemetry nursing is a high-demand sector due to shortage of ICU beds. Again, once patients are shifted out of the ICU, there is less available space to house them. This is why step-down units are being designed. This a good career choice for one with a combined liking for technology and medical biology, along with compassion towards patients, and an ability to attend several people at once.
The average annual salary range is around $55,000 to $60,000. However, those with advanced degrees like Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), or those that are given a telemetry clinical nurse manager status can even earn something as high as $100,000 per year.