“I think people have a misconception that a veterinary receptionist just sits behind a desk and answers the phone all day, but, for us, that couldn’t be farther from the truth” - Veterinary Practice
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InFocus

“I think people have a misconception that a veterinary receptionist just sits behind a desk and answers the phone all day, but, for us, that couldn’t be farther from the truth”

British Veterinary Receptionist Association (BVRA) Council member Abbie Wilson, RVR, tells us about her journey as a veterinary receptionist, from motivation to moving up the ladder

In an interview with us, Abbie Wilson, RVR, answers questions about her journey as a veterinary receptionist.

How long have you been a veterinary receptionist and how did your career in practice begin?

Before I was a veterinary receptionist, I actually worked as an estate agent, but it didn’t really feel like the right job for me, and I was looking for a career change. I waited for the right job with the right opportunities to come up, and after six months, I saw an advert for a veterinary receptionist. I knew instantly that was it – that was the job for me. Thankfully, my application was successful, and I started as a client care assistant in 2019. I then progressed my role to cover the pharmacy, and I am now the lead client care assistant, where I manage a team of seven.

What aspects of your role do you find most rewarding?

One of the most difficult aspects of my role is handling clients who have just received bad news or have had to make a difficult decision. But when you have comforted or supported a client, and they tell you afterwards that the way you treated them made the difficult time a bit easier, I find that the most rewarding – knowing that you made that difference to a client.

What challenges do you face frequently, and how do you overcome them?

I’ll try to keep this one short! For us, I think the biggest challenge we face is the national vet shortage. We are struggling with appointment availability and longer medication processing times, which leads to disgruntled, unsatisfied clients. The way I ask my team to deal with this situation is to be as honest as we can with clients – let them know we’re short on staff and limited on what we can and cannot do. It doesn’t fix the issue, but clients appreciate it when you are honest with them.

The way I ask my team to deal with this situation is to be as honest as we can with clients – let them know we’re short on staff and limited on what we can and cannot do

What inspires and motivates you to be your best at work?

Ultimately, it’s providing the best care for the animals, as that’s why we do what we do. We are in an industry that focuses on the well-being of animals, so to be able to provide them with the best care we can from the beginning to the end of their life is what motivates me to do my best, making visits as positive as possible every time.

You’re a BVRA Registered Veterinary Receptionist – what does holding this title mean to you?

It meant so much to me to achieve Registered Veterinary Receptionist (RVR) status! Because I was so determined to get it, once I did, I shouted it out loud for everyone in the practice to hear. When my badge and certificate arrived, I was like a child at Christmas opening it! It was nice to feel like I was finally being recognised, and I have something to show that, professionally, I was much more than “just a receptionist”. Getting this status also seemed to motivate others in the team to get in gear and finish their training to become an RVR as well.

How valuable is the support of the BVRA to the role of veterinary receptionists?

The way the BVRA has supported and raised the status of veterinary receptionists is invaluable, I would say. It’s given us a voice and worth, and that feeling of being heard; to me, that’s priceless.

What does being a BVRA council member mean to you?

When I was accepted onto the council, I felt very honoured. To be a part of the team with the same goals and ambitions as mine, and to finally have the ability to provide ideas and support to other veterinary receptionists means a lot to feel like we are making a difference.

To finally have the ability to provide ideas and support to other veterinary receptionists means a lot to feel like we are making a difference

How would you like to see the role of the veterinary receptionist evolve over the next five years?

Personally, I would like to see more recognised accreditation available for veterinary receptionists, like the RVR status – something to show that we do more than just answer the phone and press a few buttons on the computer. I think this will help develop the role into something more recognised than it currently is. We are definitely heading in the right direction with the BVRA, but we need to have a way to get people to take the role seriously and really recognise what we do.

Can you describe a typical day as a veterinary receptionist using just three words?

Intense, tough, gratifying – I think people have a misconception that a veterinary receptionist just sits behind a desk and answers the phone all day, but, for us, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Veterinary receptionists are so resilient to the difficulties they face daily, and I couldn’t be prouder to be one.

I think people have a misconception that a veterinary receptionist just sits behind a desk and answers the phone all day, but, for us, that couldn’t be farther from the truth

Abbie Wilson

Abbie Wilson, RVR, is a member of the British Veterinary Receptionist Association (BVRA) Council. She began her veterinary career in 2019, working as a receptionist in Cherrydown Vets, Basildon. Abbie became lead receptionist in 2021 and completed her silver and gold BVRA accreditations in 2022, becoming the first registered veterinary receptionist in her practice. She has completed the IFSM Cat Friendly Receptionist course and others in pet bereavement and pharmacy dispensing. Abbie has a little black cat, and loves all other creatures, big or small, so she is usually the first call when someone needs a pet sitter.


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