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  • Writer's pictureGardens Animal Hospital

A Day In The Life

For those of you who have not encountered me at the reception desk or on the phone at Gardens Animal Hospital, my name is Madison (or Maddie, if you prefer). Not only am I a receptionist, I am a certified veterinary assistant and in school to become a certified veterinary technician. I’d like to enlighten you on what usually occurs within the hospital on a daily basis, starting with reception.

Many people would not believe what a receptionist goes through daily. We are usually the first person a client sees and/or hears. Now, we all have bad days and it can affect our mood in plenty of different ways. As a receptionist, you are always the first person a client (owner) sees and/or hears. We are always happy, energetic, and kind. We always need to be, even if the day has been full of bad news from your personal life, or within the hospital. The potential to encounter clients who have severely sick or injured dogs or cats is constant. Our job is to console them while trying to get them what they need, whether it is an appointment, medications, documents, or what have you. We cannot make the owner feel comfortable if we are upset ourselves. We are also trained to spot emergencies from miles away so we can get the pet seen as soon as possible. Receptionists need to be calm in the face of an emergency.

While we are trying to get through the day making appointments, we are also taking constant phone calls, emails, or text messages. These types of communication can be anything simple like making an appointment, to something a bit more challenging like an upset client that has been overcharged. Receptionists must take all calls with the same amount of dignity and professionalism, even if the client is dissatisfied and angry or mourning and in tears. We always try to fix any problems or questions a client may have. These inquiries can range from questions about food, billing, the appointment process, and even preventions (since there are always new types coming out!). We must have all of this knowledge and information at the ready for when an uncertainty may arise. The answers are in our utility belt ready to be shared!

Veterinary assistants and technicians have some of those duties in common, but they vastly differ in other aspects. Now I am a certified veterinary assistant, and I got my certification from an AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) accredited school, which happens to be San Juan College. This means that I am certified to do the job of a veterinary assistant. Usually, this entails helping the doctors in addition to the technicians. Assistants usually hold all of the animals, no matter the species, size, or shape or anything that needs to be done. This can be a physical exam, blood draws, vaccines, x rays, or surgical prep. During these procedures, these animals sometimes do not want to be held or restrained in any way, shape, or form. The animals usually will squirm, wiggle, and even bite, scratch, or rough their way out of our hold (we have the occasional one that sits still!). As an assistant, we must be aware of where the animal’s mouth is at all times. Our number one responsibility is safety: for us, the doctors or techs, and most importantly, the patient. If assistants are not vigilant, it can all come crashing down. As assistants, we also clean and make sure the exam rooms, the treatment areas, and surgical suite are spotless and as sanitary as possible. We do this while making sure your pet is comfortable.

Veterinary technicians are pretty equal to human nurses. We are the liaison between you, the client, and the doctor. Techs usually interact with clients the most. While the receptionist is the first face you see, coming in at a close second is the tech. Techs may not physically have five arms, but we sure do act like it! It starts from the moment you enter the room. Techs greet you and their patient with a smile. We take a detailed history. The history usually encompasses the reason why you are bringing your animal in, if your pet is on any medications and why, if anything has occurred to your animal to make it necessary for them to come in, and their diet. This all gets entered into a medical record. Techs then pass on this information verbally to the doctor. The doctor will come in as the techs start another appointment (techs are great multitaskers!).

After the doctor is done with their portion, they will take their plan of action to the tech, who will begin rotating the wheels to make their plans a reality. This can include anything from blood draws, x rays, dispensing and explaining medications, entering charges, and doing any treatments ordered by the doctor (injections, etc). We also console clients, make them feel better, and reassure them when dropping off for surgeries (which techs are trained for too!). Techs are also trained to be spot on in emergencies. Techs have to remain cool, calm, and collected in order to properly handle an emergency. Even if our adrenaline is racing, we have to act like it isn’t. Techs are constantly running to and fro, and making every client and patient feel good.

There is never any downtime for anybody in the veterinary hospital. We are constantly on the move, whether we are the receptionist, assistant, tech, or doctor. We are all working together to constantly create a clean, educational, friendly, and medically appropriate atmosphere for the client, and our precious patients. There is always something to do and always a patient that is in need of care, medicine, love, and compassion. The wonderful and selfless people that choose to make their career in the veterinary world always want you and our patients to be healthy and happy. We strive for this on a daily basis. That is just a shallow glance into the fast paced, ever growing world of veterinary medicine.


Receptionist & Certified Veterinary Assistant

at Gardens Animal Hospital

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