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A veterinary receptionist is a receptionist who works at the office of a veterinarian or "vet". Like any other receptionist, a vet receptionist has to be able to handle basic duties such as answering phones, opening mail, and managing rudimentary office functions. Because a receptionist in a vet's office also works with animals, he or she generally also must be familiar and comfortable around cats, dogs, and other household pets.
Although the duties associated with being a veterinary receptionist vary from office to office, most veterinary receptionists perform the same basic tasks. These tasks include greeting customers, answering telephone calls and setting appointments. In many offices, veterinary receptionists also have to collect payments from customers before they leave the office and check people in for appointments.
It may be useful for a veterinary receptionist to have a rudimentary understanding of the types of care that household pets need. For example, when a customer calls to schedule a vaccination appointment for a cat, it may be helpful if the receptionist can provide the customer with instructions such as the types of vaccines the cat will be getting, or steps the pet owner needs to take before bringing the animal in. In addition, when calls come in, the receptionist must be able to direct the pet owner to the appropriate person who can provide the owner with answers to his questions.
In addition to dealing with customers, many veterinary receptionists also manage the day-to-day paperwork that helps the office function. This can include ordering office supplies, opening mail, sending reminder cards to patients about appointments, or otherwise assisting the veterinarian in daily tasks. While larger vet offices may have an office manager or other assistants that serve these functions, many vet offices are small and the receptionist fulfills these duties.
Because animals are often present in a vet office, a veterinary receptionist should have at least a basic degree of comfort when it comes to dealing with animals. A vet receptionist in some offices will help weigh an animal when the pet first comes in for the checkup. The receptionist may also check on pets who are recuperating from procedures at various points in the day in case the vet or vet techs become busy.
Although the veterinary receptionist does not provide medical care to animals, and is not usually qualified to do so, he or she may walk the pets who are staying at the office and recuperating from various medical treatments. The receptionist may also be called upon occasionally to help a vet get an animal in or out of a cage, or to do other basic tasks with animals. Therefore, this is not an appropriate job for those who aren't comfortable coming into contact with domestic pets.
Generally, no special education or skills are required to become a vet receptionist other than the basic skills required to become a receptionist. These skills may include customer service experience, familiarity with answering telephones or appointment setting, or typing skills. Additional qualifications such as a degree in a related field may also help set a vet receptionist apart from the other candidates during the employment process.
As a veterinary receptionist, not only are you required to know office skills, but the best receptionists also know uses and precautions for medications, signs and characteristics of diseases and conditions, allergies, prescription diets, over-the-counter products, hospital policies, animal breeds and their temperaments, and how to handle angry, grieving, and sometimes completely clueless clients (among other things).
It's not like basic receptionist positions in that to really succeed, you do need to take in a vast amount of medical information, retain it, apply it, and relay it, and a large portion of the information is constantly updating and changing.