Working at Oakview Vet: The Front Lines

In our last post, Maureen and I talked about what the job of a veterinary receptionist entails. Now we will tell you how we each got our positions and how we feel about working at Oakview.

Maureen: I came to Oakview with years of customer service experience. I have worked in the corporate travel industry and at HSN (Home Shopping Network). Dealing with people is right up my alley. At a veterinary clinic, however, I had to learn about medical terms and conditions. This has been challenging yet fascinating!

Karen: When I came to Oakview, I had been a veterinary assistant for many years. I thought I knew what I was getting into, though I had never worked in reception. There were a few challenging surprises! I understood the medical aspects, but handling multiple phone lines and scheduling were much harder than I thought. It has been very rewarding to develop those skills.

Karen - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI
Karen and Oakview’s clinic cat Meeko

Maureen: My favorite part of my job is puppy love!! We deal with a lot of sick pets and heartbreaking situations, but a cute puppy brings wags and kisses to chase any sadness away.

Maureen - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI
Maureen and puppy love

Karen: One of my favorite parts of my job is unusual questions! At first, I was nervous answering the phone, because I didn’t know what questions might come up. The longer I did it, the more I enjoyed being challenged by odd questions. One of my pet peeves (no pun intended!) in customer service is an answer of “I don’t know” unless it is followed by “But I will find out!” So I get pretty determined to help people.

Is our job easy?

Most of the time it is not! Although there are slow days occasionally, most days we are running hard. We see a large variety of healthy and sick pets on any given day. We don’t work directly with them, but we still worry! And we tend to think of our clients as family, so it hurts us to see them worried and sad. We do everything possible to help our clients through these tough times. When we offer snacks or a drink, that is our way of trying to help. We wish we could do more.

Sometimes we feel pressure from the doctors and support staff to do things correctly. We feel that same pressure from clients. This pressure helps keep us on top of it all. It is vital that our job is done well, or no one else can perform theirs. We take pride in being the liaisons between the rest of the staff and our clients.

One of the hard parts is when our appointments are not running on time. We don’t like to make our clients wait, but that is the unpredictable nature of a vet clinic. As a full service clinic, we perform several services for the community: well pet visits, urgent care visits, and emergency care. It can be hard to juggle the vast array of problems we see in any given day. The sick pets who comes in may just need an exam and medication, or they may need a full work up with sedation, x-rays, and labs. The more a pet needs, the longer it takes. We do understand that we are impinging on our client’s time, but most of you would want your sick pet taken care of just as conscientiously. In fact, we are one of the few area clinics who try to take care of every single pet who needs us, regardless of our schedule. We want all our clients who so patiently wait for their appointments to know that if your pet needs us in an urgent situation, we will be there for you, too.

Waiting for the Vet - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI
When are they coming to see me? I want my treats!

Karen: I have lived in a lot of areas around the country, but there is something special about this community. I think our clients are an amazing group of pet owners! I am continuously impressed by their dedication to their pets and their community in general. Our reception team is great, too. We all help each other to have positive attitudes.

Maureen: One of the things I appreciate the most about my job is the people I work with. Our reception team is a positive, friendly group who works hard. They help me stay in good spirits! The doctors, techs, assistants, and kennel attendants all help me do my job well. The whole team at Oakview is a special one!

written by Karen Russell and Maureen Shewmake

Karen - Oakview Vet - Plover Stevens Point WI

Karen moved into our area in 2012, and we are so happy she chose to work at Oakview! She brings with her experience gained at other clinics and a fresh perspective.

Karen shares her life with her fiance Tim.

 

 

 

 

Maureen - Oakview Vet Stevens Point Plover WI

Maureen joined us in 2016. She was born and raised in Illinois, and after some time in Florida, she moved here in 2011.
Maureen shares her home with her husband, three children, and dog “Buddy.”
In her free time, Maureen enjoys camping, watching sports, and spending time with her family.

 

 

 

 

What is a Veterinary Receptionist?

Maureen and I both enjoy working as receptionists at Oakview. We like interacting with all the interesting people and pets who come through our doors. We are pretty different with different backgrounds, so we compliment each other nicely. We’d like to tell you about our job as veterinary receptionists!

The Front Lines

The job may seem pretty straight forward. We answer phones, schedule appointments, and check patients in and out. But the truth is that everything that happens at Oakview begins and ends in reception. We are the front lines. If you want to see or talk to a doctor or technician, you must go through us. You may even find at times that we are protective of the rest of the staff! We are very aware of their time constraints and what they are dealing with at any time of day. We take a lot of messages in order to keep the clinic running smoothly. You would be surprised how many calls technicians have to make in a day! The tricky part is figuring out if a call is a medically urgent one or if it can wait until later for callback. We have each had training in medical issues, so we know the questions to ask to determine if you are having an emergency or an urgent situation that cannot wait. If we don’t know, our awesome staff of techs, assistants, and doctors can help us.

Karen - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI
Karen
Maureen - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI
Maureen

The Police of the Lobby

We have also been called “The Police of the Lobby”! It is our job to make sure that every person and pet is safe. This is why we may ask you to use a leash or rein in that retractable leash (retractable leashes on their own can cause problems, and we have seen this happen at Oakview). We also separate pets into our two lobbies or into exam rooms to keep the peace. There are times when clients don’t even realize a situation is developing and may wonder why we rushed them into a room. We have to know how to recognize the body language of fearful and/or aggressive dogs. Lots of folks think a veterinary clinic lobby is a fun place where your pet can meet other animals. Unfortunately, it is not. It is a hospital waiting room. That means that many pets are sick or hurt. So, the lobby is not the place for fun. We actually try to prevent pets from meeting. This is a very difficult part of our job because clients often don’t understand. Just yesterday, a puppy was waiting in the lobby. Another client came in with a dog on a retractable leash and allowed their dog to “rush” the puppy already there. This can make any animal nervous, especially in the overstimulating environment of a vet clinic. The owners of the dogs thought it was great fun. They did not see the puppy’s anxious and defensive posturing. No one can imagine their sweet pet being aggressive, but you really can’t blame them if another dog is rushing at them uncontrollably. And besides, we absolutely don’t want this kind of stress for our patients. We separated these dogs immediately.

Remember that a vet clinic lobby is actually a hospital with sick, injured, and anxious pets who aren’t feeling well enough for meet and greets!

Sometimes we work long hours. Our “closing” times don’t mean much as far as when we actually leave. The doors may get locked, but no one leaves until the work is done. It can be difficult to miss so many family dinners, but it is worth it for us to be able to help so many pets and their people.

Although we are front desk staff, it’s everyone’s job to keep the clinic clean, so we have to take care of any “accidents” in the lobby. We also help clean exam rooms. So, we get our hands dirty, too!

Overall, we enjoy meeting the wide variety of people and pets that come through our doors. We get satisfaction from knowing the pets here get a high quality of care. We try to give that same quality of care to their owners. We know how anxious you can be when your pet is sick, and we want to be there for you. Thank you for letting us help you and your pets!

written by Karen Russell and Maureen Shewmake

Karen - Oakview Vet - Plover Stevens Point WI

Karen moved into our area in 2012, and we are so happy she chose to work at Oakview! She brings with her experience gained at other clinics and a fresh perspective.

Karen shares her life with her fiance Tim.

 

 

 

 

Maureen - Oakview Vet Stevens Point Plover WI

Maureen joined us in 2016. She was born and raised in Illinois, and after some time in Florida, she moved here in 2011.
Maureen shares her home with her husband, three children, and dog “Buddy.”
In her free time, Maureen enjoys camping, watching sports, and spending time with her family.

 

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