Your veterinary staff members, from receptionists to veterinary technicians, play a significant role in the success of your animal care practice. When you have well-trained team members who meet and exceed the expectations of their roles, your clinic stands out from the competition, making it easier to gain new and loyal clients. Having a great training process can simplify your staff’s workload and help you retain top talent, (to learn more about retaining veterinary staff, check out our ebook on the State of Veterinary Staffing here).
In this article, you will find a comprehensive veterinary staff training checklist to help you determine the skills and qualifications your employees need to succeed in their jobs. The primary focus is on training requirements for two vital vet clinic positions: veterinary receptionists and vet techs. We also discuss how veterinary software helps reduce your staff’s workload and improves productivity in your clinic.
Veterinary Receptionist Training Checklist
A veterinary receptionist is a customer-facing position vital to your client experience, the comfort of your patients, new client acquisition, and other factors that help your veterinary care clinic grow. These employees are typically responsible for greeting clients, answering phone calls, and scheduling appointments.
When you’re training a new hire for the front desk, you should have a comprehensive skill checklist on hand to record their progress and ensure they have the abilities they need to be effective in the position.
Below, you can find a list of daily tasks and responsibilities that a veterinary receptionist needs to know to give your practice the best chance of success, especially when it comes to client relationships.
Checking in Clients
Your veterinary receptionist is a client’s first contact when they come to your vet clinic, so the person you have at your front desk needs thorough training to make an excellent first impression. A vet receptionist should be an expert at interacting with clients and their pets as they come in and collecting the necessary forms and information before the appointment.
The following are examples of skills vet receptionists need when checking in clients and patients:
- Greeting clients and pets
- Answering client questions
- Processing new patients
- Collecting client contact information
- Recording details on a patient’s condition
- Getting signed surgery admission and estimate forms
Accurate patient records are crucial, so receptionists should be familiar with your forms and recordkeeping system. If you use digital forms at your clinic, your front desk employee should know how to send forms to clients, whether via text or email, then manage and organize the documents in your database.
Managing Phones and Using Phone Scripts
As the employee responsible for answering your clinic’s calls, veterinary receptionists need to know how to use and talk on phones while meeting the client communication standards of your practice. The following are essential phone skills and tasks that should come up in vet receptionist training:
- Converting calls to appointments
- Phone call etiquette
- Responding to voicemails
- Voice tone and language
- Call reminders
Receptionists should know how to use your practice’s phone software to view a caller’s name, appointment information, payment balances, and so on. Being able to navigate phone tools to have client and patient data on hand helps receptionists be much more efficient during phone calls and adds a personal touch to every conversation, which improves the client experience.
Managing Client Communications
Veterinary receptionists should be able to communicate effectively with clients, adapting their approach based on the situation and emotional condition of the client and their pet. These skills also apply to communications with clients over the phone, text, and email.
Here are a few client communication tasks receptionists should know how to do:
- Appointment reminders
- Payment reminders
- Review requests
- Information requests
- Intake and consent forms
Personalization is important when sending clients messages because it improves their experience with your clinic and makes them feel valued. Successful receptionists should be able to use client communication software like Weave to send appointment reminders, payment requests, etc., whether with an automated text reminder or by phone.
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Missed or late payments can have a noticeable impact on your revenue, so it’s essential to ensure your receptionist knows how to process payments while using best practices. They should know how to do the following:
- Process credit and debit card payments
- Get payments before clients leave
- Send payment reminders
- Use online payments or text to pay
Vet receptionists should aim to schedule appointments at every opportunity, ensuring you have a steady stream of patients coming into the clinic. Examples of appointment scheduling skills receptionists should learn include:
- Scheduling follow-up visits
- Using online scheduling
- Sending appointment reminders
Managing your vet practice’s inventory can be tedious, but it’s crucial for keeping your clinic stocked and optimizing expenses. In some clinics, vet receptionists take on responsibilities involving inventory management. These employees will need training for tasks such as:
- Preparing inventory reports
- Managing purchase orders
- Dispensing patient prescriptions
Office Communication, Information, & Vernacular
While vet receptionists might spend most of their time at the front desk, they still need to know some basic veterinary terminology and animal care information to communicate effectively with their team members. Receptionists are also typically responsible for office communication tasks, including:
- Managing incoming and outgoing mail
- Managing emails
- Conveying patient information to team members
- Updating and filing patient medical records
Manage Social Media and Reviews
You need an outstanding online presence to attract new clients and make it easier for them to find you when searching for veterinary services. A vet receptionist could receive training to help manage your clinic’s social media profiles and online reviews. In that case, they’ll need the ability to do the following:
- Monitor and manage online reviews
- Answer questions on your business profiles
- Write content for social media that aligns with your clinic’s brand and values
- Update website information
Veterinary Technician Training Checklist
Veterinary technicians assist veterinarians with animal patient exams, laboratory tests, injections, medications, and other complex clinical duties. Acquiring these skills and becoming a vet tech takes a lot of time, hard work, and schooling. When considering candidates for a vet tech position, you should take into account their education, certifications, licenses, experience, and more.
The following is a checklist describing the training and qualifications your vet tech should have:
While being a veterinary assistant only requires a high school diploma, veterinary technicians have stricter education requirements because they do more clinical work. In most states, vet techs need at least the following education:
- A high school diploma or GED
- Associate degree (two years) or bachelor’s degree (four years) in veterinary technology
Vet techs must get their degrees from programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which include courses in animal care, anatomy, pathology, health science, anesthesiology, etc. They need at least a two-year associate degree to take the national exam and meet the requirements to work as a professional veterinary technician.
Certification & Licensure
After earning a veterinary technology degree, the trainee must pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). The VTNE tests for competency in essential skills, such as pharmacology, lab procedures, analgesia, emergency medicine, and animal nursing. Passing this exam is how trainees earn their credentials to work in a clinic as fully-fledged veterinary technicians.
Common vet tech certifications you should look out for include:
- Registered veterinary technician (RVT)
- Licensed veterinary technician (LVT)
- Certified veterinary technician (CVT)
- Veterinary technician specialist (VTS)
These certification programs often require candidates to pass the VTNE, get licensure in their state, and have a certain amount of clinical experience before they can register. Most states require a license to practice in the state and a passing score on the VTNE to work as a vet tech, but some also require certifications like those listed above.
If a vet tech has one or more of these certifications, you can be sure they have extensive, proven training in veterinary technology, animal care, client communication, etc.
Continuing education (CE) is an important requirement to ensure vet techs stay up to date on the latest veterinary techniques, trends, and research. Vet techs complete a specific number of CE hours depending on the state, typically every one to two years, but you can conduct more frequent training in your veterinary facility.
One of the ways you can regularly work on client communication with your vet techs is to have a 30-minute meeting every four weeks or so to discuss how they handle client and patient interactions.
Here are a few examples of topics you could discuss in your meetings:
- How a specific client or patient appointment could have gone better
- How to handle different phone calls (emergencies, medical questions, new pet owners, etc.)
- Examine the experience of the pets that come into your clinic from start to finish
- Ways to improve client engagement with your website or social media profiles
Vet techs can choose to take their skills and qualifications to the next level by earning a Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS) certification. These technical specialties include:
- Anesthesia and analgesia
- Zoological medicine
- Internal medicine
- Equine nursing
- Emergency and critical care
Vet techs with VTS credentials might demand higher salaries, but their dedication and passion in a particular field of veterinary medicine can bring valuable expertise to your veterinary clinic.
While taking classes toward their associate’s or bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology, vet techs must complete an externship at a veterinary hospital or clinic to gain hands-on experience. Depending on the program’s requirements, they’ll work a certain number of clinical hours.
The type of experience they gain from training depends on the clinics they work in. If your clinic specializes in a certain area of medicine or animal type, you should select candidates whose experience matches the type of work they’ll be doing at your practice.
The following are examples of clinical experience vet techs should have:
- Animal handling
- Intake and release practices
- Anesthesia and surgery preparation
- Diagnostic testing
- Administering medication
- Animal recovery
Some things aren’t possible to teach in a classroom, so vet techs must gain client communication and medical records management skills from their training. When vet techs aren’t working with animals, they’re collecting and cataloging patient records, lab test reports, logs, and other documents, which requires attention to detail and organizational skills.
Veterinary CSR Training
If you want a qualified employee who can handle customer service-related duties in your practice, you should look for candidates with outstanding people skills and, of course, a love for cats, dogs, and other animals.
You should have a steady revenue stream and an exceptional client experience for your vet clinic to keep growing. To achieve those goals, you’ll need to train a customer service employee who won’t miss opportunities to book appointments, can acquire new clients, and won’t forget to take payments when discharging patients.
The Veterinary Receptionist Certificate of Excellence (VRCE) is a customer service representative (CSR) training program for the front desk and customer service workers in vet clinics. The program’s curriculum is specifically for general vet practices and includes 32 courses, with 40 hours of total training time.
The following are example courses included in the VRCE program:
- Veterinary terminology
- Empathy and helping clients
- Appointment capture
- Admitting and discharging patients
- Occupational health and safety procedures
- New client acquisition
- Animal handling
CSRs completing the VRCE training have access to mentors who can answer questions, give feedback, and provide guidance. The program focuses on training a candidate who can skillfully and effectively handle the front desk area of a vet clinic so the veterinarian and vet techs can focus their time and effort on providing patient care.
Improve Your Client Experience With Smart Veterinary Software
Hopefully, our extensive veterinary staff training checklist has given insight into the training and qualifications of veterinary receptionists and veterinary technicians. At Weave, our mission is to streamline daily business tasks so veterinary professionals like you can focus on using their training to make clients and their pets comfortable and happy.
We offer a modern business management solution that puts phones, texting, scheduling, payments, and more on one platform. Weave allows you to automate tasks like appointment reminders and missed call texts, saving your staff time and ensuring your clinic doesn’t miss client acquisition opportunities.