A profile of the waiting room nurse in emergency departments: An online survey of Australian nurses exploring implementation and perceptions

Kelli Innes, Debra Jackson, Virginia Plummer, Doug Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: In response to increasing waiting times, adverse patient outcomes and patient dissatisfaction, some emergency departments introduced a Waiting Room Nurse role. Despite implementation into routine practice, there remains limited formal evaluation of the role. Aim: To explore the implementation of a Waiting Room Nurse role in Australian emergency departments and emergency nurses’ perceptions. Methods: Survey design. A 40-item survey was developed, piloted and then distributed to members of a professional College for online completion. Responses for closed-ended and open-ended items were reported using frequencies or proportions, and quantitative content analysis, respectively. Results: Respondents (n = 197) reported that 51 emergency departments allocated a Waiting Room Nurse, with varying hours of operation. Five key areas of responsibility were: patient care, patient safety, escalation of care, triage and communication. Role variations were identified in experience, preparation and supporting policies. Challenges, including workload and personal safety issues, were reported. Conclusions: The role was perceived as vital, especially at times of high demand, in ensuring that patients were safe to wait, detecting deterioration and escalating care as needed. Communication and therapeutic relationships were key to effective performance. Challenges identified had clear implications for the welfare of nurses performing the role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-73
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Emergency Nursing
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Emergency departments
  • Emergency nursing
  • Surveys
  • Waiting room

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