What have I learned after 16 years as a veterinary receptionist? Certainly that I'm not just a receptionist. I've masqueraded as the kennel cleaner, the veterinary assistant, and the office manager. I'm also the complaint department, the credit collector, and the problem solver. But my duties don't end there. I have many unofficial titles, too. I'm affectionately known as "the butt holder" for those blood draws where Fluffy won't hold her back end still. (I have yet to get that on a company shirt!) I'm the clinic funeral director whether I like it or not. I'm also the pet food guru, answering dietary questions—some from clients at other clinics. (Thank you, Dr. X!) I'm the unspoken hero for nonfunctioning office equipment. For example, I know the "unplug and re-plug" printer fix-it move and the "Fonzie-slap-on-the-credit-card-machine" trick. (Yes, it really works!)
Rachæl Lookabill, Receptionist, Southway Animal Clinic, Lewiston, Idaho
I'm a magnet for advice and friendship. From the poor to the rich and the divorced single mom to the sweet old deaf guy who just needs a friend, I'm the sounding board. I take on all those clients my co-workers are afraid to approach. But that's my favorite hat of all.
You can have the toughest, most stressful day ever, but when those clients light up because you're there for them, well, that's when your job doesn't have a title anymore. That's when everything you do is worth all that you go through every day.
I know I'll probably go to hell for all the times I told a telemarketer my boss was busy performing an exam when he was really getting a cup of coffee, but knowing I've made such an impact with everyone else makes me think that's not so bad. Besides, I told my boss I'd save him a seat!