Veterinary receptionists-start on the right foot


Q&A: How can I make a good impression at my new job?

Q I'm starting a new job as a veterinary receptionist. What do I need to know to hit the ground running?

There are three things every receptionist should know from day one, says Rachael Simmons, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and head receptionist at Veterinary Surgical Specialists in Spokane, Wash.

1. Understand your doctor's preferences on important workflow issues, such as scheduling. "Nothing is worse than overscheduling or underscheduling your doctors," she says. "It's a lose-lose situation for them and for clients."

2. Make customer service a priority. "Always be nice and have a ready smile. Kill 'em with kindness, I say," Simmons says. "It's tough for clients to be angry when the receptionist isn't getting riled up."

3. Listen. "Listen to your doctors, and listen to your clients," Simmons says. "I can't stress the importance of communication enough."

It's important for managers to offer an effective training program, too. So if you're a team leader, Simmons recommends starting with the small things to let your receptionist find her feet on the ground and move forward. Here's a quick list of information your receptionist should know:

  • Where do you park?

  • What should you wear?

  • What time does the clinic open and close?

  • How do you schedule appointments? How long? When?

  • What types of payment do you take?

  • What's the protocol for an emergency?

When you finally want them to work solo, receptionists should be able to do all the things required to check clients in and check them out, Simmons says. Items include printing prescription labels, processing payments, and so on. Receptionists should be able to make appointments, either by phone to a paper calendar or on the computer. It's also important to offer a practice contact list the first day.

"Some people might be put off by this simple list, but these simple things may be the ones that help keep us sane the first week we work," Simmons says. "When we're at a job for a long time, we take for granted the little things, including how overwhelming it can be to start a new job. Just knowing where to park, for example, instills a wee bit of confidence because you know something. It's the little things that can make a such a big impact during your first few days at a new practice."

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