Sarah Rae Murray is a writer, former veterinary practice receptionist and an advocate for all animals.
When you work in the front end of a veterinary clinic, it can feel like you’re navigating a timed obstacle course. You’ve got a full waiting room, double booked veterinarians, two calls on hold, another line ringing, and someone at the counter asking which dry food is best for her Frenchie. It’s a race against the clock. But what if you could add valuable minutes back onto the timer?
You can’t add hours to the day, but you can find ways to streamline day-to-day processes. Being organized and prepared at the front desk sets up the whole veterinary team for success. Clients and patients will also appreciate a calm and collected clinic atmosphere.
Here are a few ways to increase efficiency and reclaim a bit of time in your day:
It’s important for clients to leave with a sense of understanding about their pet’s health. Reference materials allow them to bring information home, discuss the appointment with their partner or family, and can help answer questions that pop-up post appointment. Find a trustworthy source for information like the AVMA’s Pet Care resources page. For example, print or email “Your Pet’s Healthy Weight” for a client with an overweight tabby. A helpful handout will include the what, why, and how: what the condition or treatment is, why it’s important, and how it effects their pet’s health.
At a busy clinic, calming chaos starts with traffic management. The trick? Divide and conquer. If your clinic has more than one receptionist per shift, take advantage of those numbers. Create different roles that logically break up the work. One receptionist manages the in-clinic experience: patient check-in, appointment flow, checking out appointments, retail sales, etc. The other receptionist is responsible for answering phone calls and emails. They also handle associated tasks like scheduling appointments, distributing messages, and following-up on inquiries. Receptionists can alternate the roles and help each other out when needed. Your reception team can provide a better experience for everyone when they’re not performing a juggling act.
Scheduling is an art form, it’s never exact but it does require an eye for detail. The key is finding a scheduling system that works for your clinic. Every clinic’s operation is unique, but there are universally helpful ways to structure your schedule. For example, try to avoid booking multiple sick pet exams back-to-back. Schedule them between preventative care appointments that are more predictable and likely to run on time. Reserving urgent care spots throughout the day also helps reduce double booking or turning clients away.
Myers, Wendy S. “6 scheduling secrets for veterinary receptionists.” Veterinary Practice News, July 2016, Web.
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