I Worked As A Vet Receptionist For A Day

I was given a working interview as a vet receptionist for a day.

I’d spent nearly my entire undergraduate experience working as an administrative/student assistant in various locations on campus. I learned how to administrate the heck out of things. When I got a chance to be a vet receptionist, I figured that sounded like something I could do.

Being a receptionist for a vet is easy.

Answering phones, telling people about basic pricing, and telling people that the pricing you just gave them could very well be wrong if the doctor finds something wrong with Tinkerbell are pretty simple tasks, especially if you’re used to answering phones and questions about where you work. Administrative assistants and receptionists do this all the time. Scheduling appointments, organizing files, and all of that usual stuff that you’d think of if you were sitting around daydreaming about being a receptionist for a vet are not all that difficult, either. When I was at the desk and with paperwork, I was fine. I could do that everyday and it wouldn’t bother me. The problem is, you can’t just be a receptionist when you work at an animal hospital.

You have to assist the doctor with things and be in surgery rooms, too.

I had to watch a cat get spayed only two hours in. And if it wasn’t my first day there, I’d probably have had to hold the surgical scissors for the doctor, too. So you’re basically a veterinary technician, which is like a vet but without the medical degree, I think. Though some technicians have medical degrees, so I don’t know. I didn’t want to ask. They were in surgery and I didn’t want to be rude. Update: I googled it and veterinary technicians definitely have certifications they need, so I’m not even sure why I was given such a hands-on working interview with a BA in English, unless it was implied that I’d be mentored into going for my certification, which doesn’t sound like something I’d be hecka interested in.

You have to run blood tests.

You also have to learn to draw blood from animals throats, but because it was my first day, I didn’t have to do that. But I had to watch. The doctor made me watch. He made me watch everything. I’m pretty sure that he wanted to know if I was squeamish or not. Though I’m not squeamish, I was still out of my element. I’m a receptionist/administrative assistant. I could probably take blood pressure and check vitals, because that seems like something an assistant might have to do in a smaller office, but all the rest of that stuff seems really hands on for a receptionist or an assistant.

You have to watch animals die.

About 4 hours in, there was an emergency euthanasia that came in and it was really long and hard to watch. I’m pretty sure I’d have had to hold the dog and put the anesthesia mask on if it wasn’t day 1, but the person I was shadowing did that. I held the tissues. It took a really long time for everyone to start crying.

There are birds, too.

Birds with social anxieties, self mutilation issues, and smart mouths come through a lot. There were so many birds. I’m starting to think I should have been a bird. Usually they’re just getting their beaks or feet trimmed, or getting their fecal and oral exams. I’d love to be the receptionist who took weights and told them when the doctor was ready for them and their bird to go back into the exam rooms. You can’t just be that, though. You have to actually take the birds and their owners back there and draw blood and get their fecal and oral fluids on the slides while the doctor is doing other things with other patients.

I wouldn’t make a good vet technician.

That much I know just from being there for a day. So, while it sucks that I probably won’t be going back to that office, it was fun being a receptionist at the vet for about 5 minutes. I can’t be a vet technician for 7 hours and 55 minutes for the rest of the day, though. At least, probably not.

So, onto the next job.

Tomorrow, I get a refresher in how to make coffee for a local coffee shop. Until I write about that or something else, leave a comment below. Are you currently job hunting? Is anyone ever truthfully not job hunting?

Contact me via my contact page for business inquiries.

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Note: I couldn’t take any pictures while I was there, because it was a working interview. Here’s a picture of my cat, Smoke. I named her Smoke not because she was gray and white, but because the day I got her was the day that the smoke monster from LOST made its first appearance, and I was really into LOST.

By Eric Shay Howard

Eric Shay Howard lives in Louisville, Kentucky. He's the author of the fiction collection, Crushes, and is a literary editor. He also works at a law firm and is writing his second book. He's a graduate student in the Bluegrass Writers Studio MFA in Creative Writing program at Eastern Kentucky University.


  1. I have to say, Eric. It certainly was an amazing experience. It takes a special kind of person to not get emotional and into saving animals, surgery, blood, etc. I had the utmost respect for nurses, and generally their patients can talk and tell them what’s wrong. An animal can’t, only with their eyes! I hope you can fall into something that really makes you want to be there … what ever it may be!!! KUDOS for at least being there to help the Vet. Keep Smiling .. it will get better!

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