Nursing and Telehealth: What Travel Nurses Need To Know

Written by Health Providers Choice on Saturday, January 13, 2024 Posted in Travel Nurse Tips


Travel nurses are accustomed to dealing with new and unexpected challenges — especially when acclimating to a new facility. But increasingly, the facility isn’t the only setting to which travel nurses must adjust. With telehealth on the rise, your next assignment could have you in front of a webcam, chatting with patients about everything from disease management to acute symptoms. For those used to treating patients on-site, telehealth might not come naturally.

The rise of telehealth

Telehealth took off during COVID-19 and has remained a mainstay in healthcare delivery ever since. With lockdowns and fear of infection, telehealth consultations soared 38 times previous levels from 2020-2022. Today, telehealth represents 13-17% of all outpatient visits — many of them centered on proactive care. Travel nurses can expect to be part of a telehealth visit at some point soon (if they haven’t already).

Telehealth skills and competencies for travel nurses

There are clear differences between in-person patient care and telehealth visits. While adapting to digital healthcare can be more challenging for some nurses, a few core competencies can help them acclimate. Travel nurses should focus on developing critical telehealth skills, including the following:

  • Clear and concise communication: Nurses must hone their active listening skills, speak articulately, and be mindful of tone and pacing to convey empathy and build trust.
  • Familiarity with the platform: This knowledge includes understanding basic functions, troubleshooting common issues, and ensuring patient comfort with the technology.
  • Alternative assessment techniques: Physical examinations are a cornerstone of in-person care, but in telehealth, nurses must use alternative assessment techniques. Ask targeted questions, guide patients through self-examinations, and interpret visual cues from the video call.
  • Patient education strategies: Nurses must employ engaging and interactive methods to deliver health information remotely, using clear visuals, concise language, and interactive tools.

Practical tips for acclimating to telehealth

If you’ve had limited exposure to telehealth and your next assignment requires it, don’t fret. There are ways to become comfortable with distance care quickly. Try these tactics to ease yourself (and your patients) into telemedicine:

  • Simulate calls with other nurses to test features and troubleshoot issues.
  • Don’t be afraid to enlist a tech-savvy colleague for quick IT support.
  • Make eye contact with the camera, not the screen, to simulate personal interaction.
  • Leave pauses for patients to respond. Remember, they might be hesitant to speak up.
  • Your warmth and empathy will shine through on camera.
  • Be present and engaged. Avoid multitasking or distractions.
  • Acknowledge patient anxieties about telehealth and address them proactively.

Telehealth is still relatively new to patients and providers alike. While occasional glitches are bound to occur, all you can do is what you’re trained to do: Put the patient first and make sure the focus of the visit is always on their health and well-being.

Prioritize telehealth upskilling

Are you prepared to navigate the uncharted territories of digital healthcare? Proactively upskilling and becoming familiar with telehealth best practices can put you in position to make an immediate impact at your next facility — or even take a lucrative contract demanding these skills — with little to no adjustment period when you get there.

If you need telehealth resources, Health Providers Choice strives to keep travel nurses on the leading edge of their practice — including upskilling for technology. Reach out to your recruiter today for information and resources to help you tackle telehealth with confidence. Contact us online or call 888-299-9800 to learn more.

About the Author

Rose Torrento

Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.