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STAF130-0510 : Front Desk Module 3-Emergency and Specialty Practice-Working the Front Desk

Katherine Dobbs, RVT, CVPM, PHR

May 27-July 2, 2010
Real Time Sessions: Thursdays, June 3, 10, 17, and 24, 2010; 2:00pm-3:00pm ET (USA) **one hour real time sessions

Many of the duties performed at the front desk of an emergency and/or specialty practice are similar to those duties performed at a general practice, such as answering the phone, typing in data, processing payments, and filing charts and documents. However, the situations facing the front office team of an emergency/specialty practice can be complex: a client walks into a referral practice without a referral and refuses to let you contact their current veterinarian for medical history; the referred client comes in not anticipating the fees for a second opinion, the estimate for treatment is halted by the question "why are you repeating x-rays?" or a waiting pet is suddenly collapsing in the lobby. These are just a few of the situations we will explore in this course.

This course will consist of four (4) sixty (60) minute real time sessions; library materials supplementing the required reading; multiple choice quizzes (after each real time session) designed to enhance course effectiveness and material retention; a cumulative final exam online; and interactive message board discussions. Katherine Dobbs holds credentials as a RVT (Registered Veterinary Technician), CVPM (Certified Veterinary Practice Manager), and PHR (Professional in Human Resources). She has taught and lectured worldwide both in onsite and online venues.

This course is designed for all veterinary front office staff, office managers and supervisors, as well as support staff members who assist or fill in at the front desk of an emergency or specialty practice. All veterinary staff involved in or wishing to learn more about the important role of the front office position in the challenging niche of emergency and specialty/referral practice are encouraged to enroll. The Exceptional Client Skills and Challenges Facing the Front Desk Modules 1 and 2 are logical recommended precursors for this course, but are not required. This course is also highly recommended prior to taking the Emergency & Specialty Practice: Managing the Front Desk Module 4 course.

Upon completion of this course, the participant should be able to

TEXTBOOKS: There are NO required textbooks for this course. Required reading will be in the course area library upon the course opening.


Week 1: The Referral Relationship
Content: We will review the resources available from the AVMA and AAHA. Week 1 will explore in depth the Triangle of Care, and the front office role in this triangle. Participants will learn the terminology used to define the relationships between a pet's caregivers and how these relationships work to benefit the client and patient. Exploration into the role of ethics in the operation of the referral practice will include the limitations imposed by ethics using example scenarios and the potential pitfalls involved. And finally, we will cover the importance of each person's position in the referral hospital and how it can enhance the relationship with the referring community.

Week 2: Communication is Critical
Content: Participants will learn how the front office is the communication conduit between the referring and referral practice. We will explore how the front office can enhance the transmission of medical records between practices including pertinent information and patient updates to facilitate referrals and improve patient care. The front office facilitates communication between practices during every phase of the referral from the initial appointment, to the patient's hospital stay, and through discharge process. Explore how to handle the frustration of phone tag, as well as how to prioritize messages from the referring practice.

Week 3: Caring for Mutual Clients
Content: This week we will discover how the front office team can deliver exceptional client service in emergency and specialty practice, and how it's all about your attitude and your perception. Essentials of how to make the referral an easy transition for the client, while respecting the referring veterinarian's needs will be covered. We will discuss how being proactive can reduce future problems with clients by using examples and incorporating the role of estimates and invoices. Triaging clients with consideration will also be discussed. We will cover how to identify potential contractual risk clients and the necessary steps to avoid bad debt and irreversible decisions. Finally we will review patient admission and discharge from the hospital.

Week 4: Continuing Client Care and Mutual Patient Care
Content: Explore how the referral relationship does not end with the discharge of the patient. Discuss the different euthanasia scenarios faced in the practice setting. Learn the various aspects surrounding termination of the client relationship with the practice, and how to handle the request for medical records. Learn how the front office can benefit their career and the team by reviewing discharge summaries, learning medical terminology and patient triage over the phone and across the desk, and becoming involved in the medical aspect of the practice. Discover how expanding the medical knowledge of the front office team can help them establish and maintain a well respected position in the practice.

LIBRARY MATERIALS: Library materials will be made available prior to the topic week so participants will have plenty of time to prepare for the real time sessions and discussion.

MESSAGE BOARD DISCUSSIONS: Message board discussions regarding the topic presented will begin on the day the course opens and continue for one week following the last real time session. These discussions will be held in the VSPN CE course area.


$80 ($72.00 early bird special if registered before May 17, 2010).
*Enroll in all four Front Desk Modules before April 1, 2010 or enroll in Front Desk Modules 3 & 4 before June 3, 2010 and receive a 15% discount off the regular course price.
*Students currently enrolled in and taking at least 2 classes or 5 units at an AVMA accredited or CAAHT approved Veterinary Technician Program may be eligible to receive a 50% discount off the regular rate for this course (upon verification of student status). You must include the following information in the comments section of the CE enrollment form in order to be eligible for this discount: your program director's name and contact information (email/phone) and school name.

** NOTE: Enrollment will be closed when the maximum number of participants is reached or at 5pm ET the day of the first real time session.

**For more on how online CE works see the VSPN Participant's Resource Center


  1. Each person must individually be a registered member of VSPN ( Membership in VSPN is free.
  2. To enroll in any VSPN CE course click on the ENROLL NOW link below the course title on the right side of the page at
  3. Each enrollee must be able to receive emails from and addresses. This is our major form of communication with participants. It is highly recommended that course participants use their own, personal emails rather than clinic/hospital email addresses.
  4. VIN Member veterinarians SHOULD NOT register for their staff. Please have the staff member register through VSPN. Please email if you have questions.
Note: "This course has been approved for continuing education credits in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB RACE approval; however participants should be aware that some boards have limitations on the number of hours accepted in certain categories and/or restrictions on certain methods of delivery of continuing education. Call VSPN CE at 1-800-700-4636 for further information." (Attendees are encouraged to check with their licensing jurisdiction(s) for information regarding recognition by their board).
This course has also been approved for continual education units toward CVPM requirements through VHMA.
COURSE WITHDRAWAL AND REFUND POLICY: Withdrawal prior to the listed start date of a course entitles the registrant to a complete refund or a credit toward a future VIN CE course, whichever is preferred. Withdrawal within 1 week after the listed start date (i.e. including no more than one real-time session) entitles the registrant to a credit toward any future VIN CE course. (Refund policy does not apply to courses with only one real-time session.) After the first real-time session, a registrant may withdraw due to special circumstances and receive prorated credit towards a future VIN course. These requests will be handled on an individual basis. The amount of the prorated credit will be determined based on 65% of the time remaining in the course at the time of withdrawal. It is not possible to withdraw retroactively.
Note: To ensure rapid handling of your request for withdrawal, we recommend that you call the VIN office at 1-800-700-INFO (4636).
** For More Information on VSPN's upcoming CE Courses, check out

Nanette R. Walker Smith, M.Ed., RVT, CVT, LVT
VSPN Content Director & VSPN CE Director

VSPN CE Services:
1-800-846-0028 or 1-530-756-4881 or direct line to VIN/VSPN from the United Kingdom: 01452226154
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Chris Upchurch (; ext 197
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Nanette Walker Smith (; ext 187


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