The job of an in-take nurse is critical in hospital and clinic settings. This is a patient’s first point of contact with a medical professional, and you need to be ready to take on any type of emergency in an instant. The special skills involved make it a high demand nursing position that could help propel your career forward.
Not everyone is cut out for the type of pressure an in-take nurse faces. If this is a specialty you are considering, you should first understand all that is involved.
What Does an In-Take Nurse Do?
The responsibilities of an in-take nurse are vast, and may even vary slightly depending on the institution you work in. In most cases, your role is similar to a triage nurse in the military. You must assess the health needs of incoming patients and determine the order in which the physician will see them.
Typically when a patient enters an emergency room setting, they are asked to sign in and provide their name and some brief information about their reason for coming in. If the injury or illness is obviously life threatening, they are immediately taken in for medical assistance. If not, they are asked to have a seat until the in-take nurse calls their name.
Your job will now be to take the patient’s vital signs and assess the extent of their medical complaint. Your medical knowledge needs to be expansive in order to be able to determine with accuracy which patient is in need of attention first. You will also need to have confidence in your own diagnostic skills in order to make those type of on the spot decisions.
After knowledge and confidence comes communication skills. Your job will entail trying to obtain information from people who may be facing one of the most horrible times in their life. You will have to have patience and compassion as you try and work through their fear to get to the underlying symptoms they are experiencing.
These types of situations can become hectic, and you will have to be quick on your feet in order to deal with the demand on your time and skills. The ability to multi-task will also come in handy as you work your way through a list of incoming patients. Being able to pick out the little details that will help triage your patients is another trait that is looked for with this nursing position.
Diplomacy is often required of an in-take nurse, especially in a very busy medical facility. You are seen by the patients as the “person in charge” and may bear the brunt of their frustrations. It is important to remember that the patient and their family are often scared in these situations, and sometimes grow impatient when having to wait. Part of your job will be in helping them to remain calm and providing reassurance that they will receive the help they need as quickly as possible.
Where Do In-Take Nurses Work?
In any medical facility where you might see a high volume of unscheduled patients, a professional in-take nurse will be needed to ensure that their needs are prioritized and that they get the care needed. This could be in a walk-in clinic, mental health facility, nursing home or crisis center. In each one of these locations they will have to talk with incoming patients and their families, get a medical history, determine the type of care needed and then see that care is provided. An RN who has an advanced degree in a specialty such as geriatrics or mental health could find their special knowledge very useful as an in-take nurse in one of these medical institutions.
How Much Money Does an In-Take Nurse Make?
Your base salary as an in-take nurse will vary depending on the type of facility you work in, as well as the state you are employed. According to a 2010 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics an RN specializing as an in-take nurse made on average $64,690 each year. The credentials needed will also be dependent on where you choose to work, but a licensed RN would be your minimum requirement.
The Traits Needed to Be a Successful In-Take Nurse
The ideal candidate for a position as an in-take nurse is:
- Extremely knowledgeable with anatomy, injury and disease
- Able to assess a situation quickly
- Professional under pressure
- Confident in decision making
- Compassionate with patients and family members
- A problem solver and
- A critical thinker
This is an optimal career choice for a nurse who loves a challenge and the chance to work in a high paced atmosphere. There is little chance at getting emotionally invested in your patient’s care, but you can take pride in knowing that it was you who made sure that they were able to receive it in the first place.