What skills does a vet receptionist need?

Updated February 21, 2017

Being a receptionist at a vet's practice or veterinary hospital requires diverse skills in animal handling and communications, customer relations and office administration as well as basic knowledge of medical terms and procedures. The ability to calm animals and their owners during stressful situations is a highly preferred attribute for the position.

Animal relations

One of the most important skills for the job is having good relations with a wide range of animals. Vet offices and hospitals typically treat all kinds of pets from birds and mice to large dogs, all of which are under duress due to illness, injury or impending vaccine injections and the receptionist is usually the first point of contact. He must exhibit no fear or apprehension for any type of animal and have a calming demeanour and voice to put the animals at ease. A vet receptionist is required to help the vet and veterinary assistants subdue animals during medical procedures such as suturing, injections and administering oral medications.

Customer service

Pet owners are often more overwrought than their pets. A vet receptionist needs empathy, understanding and an ability to take and deal with long and detailed descriptions of animal maladies, personalities and preferences. His job requires a delicate balance of controlling diverse situations concurrent with providing emotional support and sound medical advice regarding treatment and euthanization options. He needs patience and tolerance to deal with distraught pet owners in person and on the telephone.

Administrative skills

Besides comforting and serving people and animals, a vet receptionist is responsible for administrative support. He schedules appointments online, by telephone and in person, gathers information from new and existing clients and maintains files and records. He needs skills in data entry, word processing, spreadsheet and accounting programs to update information, generate communications with clients and outside agencies and prepare billing and invoices.

Medical knowledge

When vets prescribe medications for pet owners to administer at home, the receptionist needs knowledge of recommended dosages, drug interactions and administration options to explain them clearly to clients. He must have the ability to communicate well with pharmacies and prescription drug companies to order medications, and have expertise in medical terminology to confirm the accuracy and viability of medical procedure instructions.

Maintenance duties

Based on the diverse animal traffic in a veterinary practice, the premises require thorough and frequent cleaning and maintenance to keep them fresh smelling and free of irritating pet dander, fur, feathers and hair. The receptionist must regularly vacuum rugs, sweep floors in examination rooms and wipe down counters and other surfaces with antibacterial solutions.

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About the Author

Cassie Damewood has been a writer and editor since 1985. She writes about food and cooking for various websites, including My Great Recipes, and serves as the copy editor for "Food Loves Beer" magazine. Damewood completed a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in creative writing at Miami University.