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As the sometimes unsung heroes of the field, veterinary receptionists need a special combination of knowledge, compassion, and patience – as well as incredible diplomatic and traffic-control skills. You’ve probably had the pleasure of speaking with these incredible humans as they help your companion get the care they need. 

Have you ever wondered what life is like on the other side of that counter? Our Head Receptionist Tara has the scoop!

8AM – I arrive at the hospital wide awake and ready to jump into action, as each day begins with a burst of activity. Even as clients start to arrive for surgery drop-offs and first appointments, there are messages, emails, and phone calls to answer – I know that people and their pets are anxiously waiting for a helping hand, and I want to make sure everyone gets exactly what they need. 

10AM – Even after the morning rush has cleared, I am hard at work juggling the schedules of our veterinarians and technicians. Each appointment request brings a different set of circumstances, and booking them correctly takes a lot of experience to master. As receptionists we need to triage over the phone, evaluating what is an emergency requiring immediate attention, and what should be scheduled later in the day or even in the days to come. We need to help worried owners share exactly the details we need to know, and then relay that information to our techs and vets to help make the best plan for each patient and their family. 

11AM – In addition to helping clients, our job is also to lend a hand when our fellow colleagues need support. This could mean sending a clinical report to a specialist, calling a client to follow up after a procedure, getting prescription medication ready for a quick pick-up, connecting with another clinic for a patient’s medical history, or reviewing a treatment plan or estimate with a guardian. It truly takes a team approach to keep our hospital running smoothly!

1PM – Because our clients naturally have many different questions when they call the hospital, we need to continually cultivate our knowledge base so that we can provide the most accurate information possible. This means learning about everything from the purpose and administration of particular medications, to the latest status of pet food supply issues or recalls, to the detailed protocols for patients coming in for surgery. It’s a lot of information to have at our fingertips, and one of my favourite parts of this job is the continuous learning opportunity it provides. 

2PM – A challenging aspect of this role is the rollercoaster of emotions each day offers. At any moment we could be experiencing the joy and excitement of greeting a brand new puppy or kitten just getting to know their new family, or feeling the profound grief of comforting a long-time client as they say farewell to a companion we have also come to know and love. The ability to meet each of these moments with the emotional energy they require can be difficult, but knowing that we are doing our best to support patients and guardians at every stage of their journey is really rewarding.

4PM – As the end of the day comes into sight – but before the final rush of last-minute questions and concerns as guardians return home from work – I make time to help keep our financial paperwork on track. This can involve everything from double-checking invoices and finalizing billing statements to submitting pet insurance claims on behalf of our clients to make sure they receive their full coverage. It’s a lot of details to keep track of, and I want to be prepared to help clients with any questions they might have.

5PM – As we reach the end of our day at the hospital, my mind already turns to the day ahead. In addition to making sure our space is squeaky clean and ready to welcome tomorrow’s patients, I also want to be as prepared as possible for what the day holds. I review all the appointments that have already been booked, updating client and patient information and noting what additional details we might need. Knowing who is coming in, what their appointment is for, and whether this is a new condition or a follow-up, helps me greet each client with as much context as possible. This way I help make sure their companion gets exactly what they need during their appointment. 

6PM – When closing time arrives, while I reconcile our cash and finalize any pending queries, I try to take a moment to reflect on the day – the cats, dogs, and caring humans that I met, the questions I answered and emergency situations I helped resolve, the ways our team pulled together to support each other throughout the day. There is no doubt that veterinary medicine is a busy and demanding field, but I love knowing that each day I can make a positive difference for companion animals and their guardians in our community.

Do you think you have what it takes to be one of the Elk Lake magicians… or rather, receptionists? If you have a passion for impeccable client care and a commitment to promoting companion animal health, we’d love to meet you! You can explore current opportunities to join Tara and the rest of our team HERE.