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.
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 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 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.