The characteristics and attributes of waiting room nurses

Kelli Innes1,2, Professor Doug Elliott1, Professor Debra Jackson1, Associate Professor Virginia Plummer2,3

1University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Health, Ultimo, Australia, 2Monash Nursing and Midwifery, Monash University , Frankston, Australia, 3Peninsula Health, Frankston, Australia


The emergency department waiting room has long been a challenging environment for patients and staff. In response to these challenges, care of patients has expanded to incorporate the waiting room. Key aims of the role are to decrease waiting times by commencing early interventions, monitor patients for clinical deterioration and enhance communication. There is a paucity of literature and research exploring the role.


A mixed methods, multi-phase study explored the implementation of the emergency department waiting room nurse. In Phase One nursing key informants who implemented the role were interviewed; Phase Two observed waiting room nurses in clinical practice and Phase Three surveyed emergency nurses about the role and their perceptions.


The integrated results of the study identified five essential characteristics that waiting room nurse should possess to effectively perform the role – experience and preparation; communication; assessment and monitoring; being a clinical decision-maker; and patient focused.

From these characteristics, nine key attributes were identified as being important for the waiting room nurse to be effective and efficient in the role – competent; confident; knowledgeable; proficient in assessment skills; autonomous; patient advocate; clinical decision-maker; highly developed communication skills; focus on patient safety, care quality and patient-centred care.


By possessing these essential characteristics and attributes the waiting room nurse can effectively and efficiently perform the role contributing to the delivery of safe, quality care and patient safety.


Kelli is an experienced emergency nurse and nurse educator. She is currently employed as a Senior Lecturer at Monash Nursing and Midwifery teaching in both the undergraduate program and the postgraduate emergency nursing stream. She has recently completed her PhD from which this presentation arises.