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Position Statement

TRIAGE QUALIFICATIONS
Triage in emergency care is a process of collecting pertinent patient information and initiating a
decision-making process that categorizes and prioritizes the needs of patients seeking care. A
specific amount of time and experience in emergency care alone may not ensure that a registered
nurse is adequately prepared to function as a triage nurse. To perform triage with a high level of
accuracy and competence, registered nurses should complete a triage-specific educational
program, as well as other appropriate courses and certifications, and should demonstrate qualities
(as listed below) that facilitate successful triage.
It is the position of the Emergency Nurses Association that:
1. Triage is performed by a registered nurse.
2. General nursing education does not adequately prepare the emergency nurse for the
complexities of the triage nurse role. Emergency nurses should complete a standardized
triage education course that includes a didactic component and a clinical orientation with a
preceptor prior to being assigned triage duties.
3. In addition to a standardized triage education course the emergency nurse should acquire
additional education to enhance triage knowledge, skills and attitudes. Educational programs
include, but are not limited to:

Completion of both a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course and a standardized


Advanced Life Support (ALS) course. The triage nurse may be the first to encounter
a patient experiencing a cardiopulmonary event. Standardized CPR and ALS
programs provide the foundation of a methodical, evidence based approach to these
patients.

Completion of Emergency Nurse Pediatric Course (ENPC). ENPC is unique as it


specifically addresses triage of the pediatric patient. ENPC provides an optional
chapter on assessment and care of the pediatric patient involved in a disaster or mass
casualty situation. Instructors are encouraged to include this is in their courses.

Completion of Trauma Nurse Core Course (TNCC). The triage nurse is often the first
professional to encounter a trauma patient, at any point of entry to the emergency care
system. TNCC provides the foundation for a standardized approach to the triage of
the trauma patient, including the assessment and care of the patient involved in a
disaster or mass casualty situation.

Completion of Geriatric Emergency Nurse Education (GENE). GENE is unique as it


specifically addresses triage of the geriatric patient.

Credentialed as a Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) or Certified Pediatric


Emergency Nurse (CPEN) (preferred).

Emergency Nurses Association | 915 Lee Street | Des Plaines, IL 60016-6569 | 847-460-4000

Position Statement

4. Additional qualities of a successful triage nurse include:

Diverse knowledge base

Strong interpersonal skills

Excellent communication skills

Strong critical thinking skills

Ability to conduct a brief, focused


interview
Strong physical assessment skills

Ability to make rapid, accurate


decisions
Ability to multitask yet focus

Ability to provide patient education


throughout triage process
Ability to work collaboratively with
interdisciplinary team members
Ability to work under periods of
intense stress
Ability to appropriately delegate
responsibilities
Ability to adjust to fluctuations in
workload
Ability to communicate
understanding of patient and family
expectations
Understanding of cultural and
religious concerns that may occur
triage

5. Triage nurses should be engaged in ongoing educational


and peer reviews,
opportunities
triage
which lead to enhanced accuracy and competence.
6. Ultimately, the decision regarding competency of a triage nurse belongs to emergency
department leadership. Leadership should ensure that the nurse has received appropriate
education and demonstrates additional qualities to successfully function as a triage nurse.
Resources
Bond, P. G. (2008). Implications of EMTALA on nursing triage and ED staff education. Journal
of Emergency Nursing, 34, 205-206.
Emergency Nurses Association. (2007). Emergency nursing core curriculum. (6th ed.). Des
Plaines, IL: Author.
Funderburke, A. (2008). Exploring best practice for triage. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 34,
180-182.
Hohenhaus, S. M., Travers, D., & Mecham, N. (2008). Pediatric triage: a review of emergency
education literature. Journal of Emergency Nursing .34, 308-13.

Zimmermann, P. G., & McNair, R. S. (2006). Triage essence and process. In P. G. Zimmermann
& R. Herr (Eds.), Triage Nursing Secrets (pp. 3-14). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.
Developed: 2010.
Approved by the ENA Board of Directors: February 2011.
Emergency Nurses Association, 2011.

Emergency Nurses Association | 915 Lee Street | Des Plaines, IL 60016-6569 | 847-460-4000