Laura Paterson, group clinical director at White Cross Vets
White Cross Vets Encourages Appreciation For Unsung Heroes In Veterinary Practices
With more than 3 million UK households buying a new pet since the start of the pandemic, White Cross Vets is shining a light on the work of its front of house team and says veterinary receptionists are often the unsung heroes in practices throughout the UK.
This follows Veterinary Receptionist Appreciation Day earlier this month to celebrate the contribution that veterinary receptionists make to the running of practices.
White Cross Vets’ team of client care coordinators are now booking and managing thousands of appointments every week across the group’s 21 practices throughout England. This is a direct result of the major spike in the country’s pet population and earlier this year, the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association said a total of 3.2 million households in the UK had acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic, with dogs being the most popular choice of pet.
Rachel Hawkins joined White Cross Vets in Wolstanton, near Stoke, as a client care coordinator in 2012 and 12 months ago was promoted to site operations support manager. She now manages front of house teams across eight of the group’s practices.
Rachel said: “Some people think working in a veterinary practice is all about cuddling cute puppies and kittens and although that is certainly a perk of the job, Covid has really changed the role and created a number of new challenges.
“The UK’s pet population has soared and this can mean clients might now have to wait longer than they expected for a non-emergency appointment, which some people find hard to understand. Our entire team are pet owners, so we all have a first-hand understanding and appreciation of the raw emotion that’s involved when a pet is ill, and we therefore must manage client expectations carefully.
“Some new pet owners are also under the false impression that they don’t have to pay for veterinary treatment and medication, like when they visit an NHS hospital or doctors’ surgery, so this is an issue that we are increasingly seeing. In this instance, it’s our job to educate clients about the availability of pet insurance and our Complete Wellness Plan, which is designed to cover routine healthcare and treatments.”
Rachel added: “There’s no doubt that it’s still a very rewarding job, and it’s great that Veterinary Receptionist Appreciation Day is helping to highlight our work. We have a lovely client base and seeing the joy that people get when their pets recover from all types of illnesses and accidents is hugely rewarding. Our whole team often receive thank you cards and chocolates from happy clients which is another rewarding part of the job!”
Laura Paterson, group clinical director at White Cross Vets, explained: “In veterinary practices, it’s generally the vets that get the plaudits, but it’s important that the credit goes to the front of house teams too. They never know what’s going to come through the door or what the next phone call will be.
“They manage and juggle appointments, determine whether a case is an emergency, offer emotional support at difficult times, deal with pet insurance claims and communicate with clients. It’s an extremely skilled role and they must be organised, calm, efficient and great communicators.
“It’s estimated that more than half of adults now own a pet and it’s no secret that high quality veterinary practices are very busy as a result. Unfortunately, our client care coordinators often bear the brunt of any client frustrations, which is hugely unfair, but we never tolerate any abuse towards them, because we know what an amazing job they do.”
White Cross Vets, which is part of IVC Evidensia, has been caring for pets for 80 years, having started in West Yorkshire in 1937 and now employs a 300 strong team across 21 practices in the UK. For more information about White Cross Vets, visit www.whitecrossvets.co.uk.
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