BVRA’s Guide to Conduct and Contribution for Veterinary Receptionists

Regulation of the Veterinary Profession

The veterinary profession is regulated by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, (RCVS).   Technically, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons regulates registered veterinary surgeons and registered veterinary nurses, as opposed to the practice, business or any other employees that are not registered with the RCVS.

In order for a vet to work in veterinary practice in the UK, they must become a member of the RCVS, denoted by the post-nominals MRCVS. In order to become a member of the RCVS, a vet has to do 2 things:

  1. Pass their veterinary examinations (at a university approved by the RCVS)
  2. Take an oath confirming that they agree to work within the rules laid out in the RCVS’s Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons.

Similarly, in order for a veterinary nurse to be registered with the RCVS, denoted by the post-nominals RVN, they have to do 2 things:

  1. Pass their examinations (at a training institution approved by the RCVS)
  2. Take an oath confirming that they agree to work within the rules laid out in the RCVS’s Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses.

Veterinary receptionists contribute significantly to the following aspects of veterinary work:

  1. Ensuring that ill and injured animals are attended to in an appropriate and timely manner
  2. The safe and effective procurement, storage, preparation and handing over of veterinary medicines
  3. Ensuring confidentiality and protection of clients’ personal and financial data.
  4. The smooth and effective communication of information between clinical and non-clinical colleagues
  5. The public’s impression of veterinary practice and the veterinary profession

BVRA therefore considers it appropriate that veterinary receptionists are made aware of the regulatory context in which their veterinary practice operates, as well as receiving specific guidance about what conduct and contributions are expected of them as individuals.

This BVRA’s Guide to Conduct and Contribution for Veterinary Receptionists sets out the standards expected of veterinary receptionists working within veterinary practice.  Acknowledgement of and commitment to this Guide to Professional Conduct is essential in order to join BVRA’s list of Registered Veterinary Receptionists.

Principles of practice

Veterinary receptionists’ contributions should incorporate the same five principles that veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses must follow, as defined by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

  1. Professional competence
  2. Honesty and integrity
  3. Independence and impartiality
  4. Client confidentiality and trust
  5. Professional accountability

Professional contributions

Section 1. Veterinary receptionists’ contributions to animal welfare

Veterinary receptionists should make animal health and welfare their first consideration when dealing with situations involving animals.  Therefore, veterinary receptionists must immediately refer instances involving actual, or the potential for, compromised animal welfare to a clinical colleague.

Veterinary receptionists should be prepared for instances of euthanasia. It is recommended that veterinary receptionists who are involved in the euthanasia of an animal, either in managing the client’s emotional reaction, or in the restraint of the  animal, are fully trained in order that a coordinated, rehearsed and competent approach is taken.

Veterinary receptionists should be aware of the professional guidance on euthanasia which the RCVS provides for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.

Section 2. Veterinary receptionists’ involvement in, and awareness of, veterinary activities

  • Veterinary receptionists must work within their own area of qualification. The status of Registered Veterinary Receptionist infers no rights or entitlement to perform clinical activities.
  • Regardless of any practical training or experience a veterinary receptionist may have, in the context of the veterinary practice, anyone other than a RCVS registered veterinary surgeon or a registered veterinary nurse is no more qualified than any other lay person with respect to performing clinical activities.
  • Veterinary receptionists should be aware of the guidance in the treatment of animals by unqualified persons the RCVS gives veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses. The guidance defines the term ‘veterinary surgery’ as well as what unqualified (or ‘lay’) practice staff can and cannot do in veterinary practice.
  • Since veterinary receptionists are often involved in communicating and actioning messages in relation to their practice’s 24-hour emergency cover arrangements, they should be aware of their practice’s responsibilities relating to 24-hour emergency first aid and pain relief.
  • The RCVS gives veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses guidance in relation to the rules around 24-hour emergency first aid and pain relief and veterinary receptionists should be aware of this
  • Veterinary receptionists who are involved in the storage, preparation and handing over of veterinary medicines must do so responsibly act responsibly when performing these duties.  The supply and use of  veterinary medicines are regulated by the Veterinary Medicines Regulations.  Veterinary receptionists should be aware of the guidance the RCVS provides veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in relation to Veterinary medicines.

Section 3. Veterinary receptionists and clients

  • Veterinary receptionists are expected to be able to communicate effectively with clients in written and spoken English.
  • Veterinary receptionists must be open and honest with clients and respect their needs and requirements.
  • Veterinary receptionists must be independent and impartial when dealing with clients.  This means that discussions and options offered are in the best interests of the animal and the client (as opposed to being motivated by commercial gain or personal agenda).
  • Veterinary receptionists should be aware of their practice’s obligations to ensure that informed consent is obtained before performing diagnostic, therapeutic or euthanasia procedures.  The RCVS gives veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses guidance in relation to communication and consent and veterinary receptionists should be aware of this.
  • Veterinary receptionists are expected to be able to provide accurate and appropriate information to clients about the practice, including the costs of some services and medicines. Veterinary receptionists should be aware of the advice on practice information, fees and animal insurance given by the RCVS to veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.
  • Veterinary receptionists are expected to assist and contribute to the creation and maintenance of clear, accurate and detailed patient, clinical and client records. The RCVS gives veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses guidance in relation to clinical and client records  and veterinary receptionists should be aware of this.
  • Veterinary receptionists must not disclose information about a client or the client’s animals to a third party, unless the client gives permission, or animal welfare or the public interest may be compromised. The RCVS gives veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses guidance in relation to client confidentiality and veterinary receptionists should be aware of this.
  • Veterinary receptionists must react to clients’ complaints and criticisms professionally and courteously and pass such reports of complaints and criticisms onto the veterinary practice owners or managers so they can respond to them promptly.

Section 4. Veterinary receptionists and the veterinary team

  • Veterinary receptionists must work together and with others in the veterinary team and business, to co-ordinate the care of animals and the delivery of services.  The RCVS gives veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses guidance in relation to veterinary team and business and veterinary receptionists should be aware of this
  • Whilst practice veterinary owners and managers are entitled to guide veterinary receptionists with respect to what they define as the practice’s ‘preferred approach’, it is important that veterinary receptionists feel that this ‘preferred approach’ is moral, ethical and legal and in the best interests of the animal and the client.  If they don’t, they should discuss it with their veterinary practice owner and manager.
  • Veterinary receptionists must ensure that tasks are delegated only to those who have the appropriate competence and registration.  The RCVS gives veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses guidance in relation to delegation to veterinary nurses and veterinary receptionists must recognise the limitations of responsibility for the different job roles that this guidance describes.
  • Veterinary receptionists must help their practice owners maintain a minimum standard of practice equivalent to the Core Standards of the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme. Further information about the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme can be found here.
  • Veterinary receptionists must not impede professional colleagues seeking to comply with legislation and these standards or with the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons.   The RCVS gives veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses guidance in relation to whistle-blowing and veterinary receptionists should be aware of this.

Section 5. Veterinary receptionists’ contribution to the trustworthiness and respectability of the veterinary profession

  • Veterinary receptionists should report any veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse to the management of their practice or the RCVS, whom they know to be removed from the RCVS Register who nevertheless continues to give medical treatment or carry out minor surgery unlawfully.  The RCVS gives veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses guidance in relation to Concerns & Complaints and veterinary receptionists should be aware of this.
  • Veterinary receptionists must take reasonable steps to address adverse physical or mental health or performance that could impair fitness to perform; or, that results in harm, or a risk of harm, to animal health or welfare, public health or the public interest.
  • Veterinary receptionists who are concerned about a professional colleague’s fitness to practise must take steps to ensure that animals are not put at risk and that the interests of the public are protected. The RCVS gives veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses guidance in relation to Health Protocol,  Performance Protocol, and Whistle-blowing and veterinary receptionists should be aware of this.
  • Registered veterinary receptionists must maintain and develop the knowledge and skills, relevant to their professional performance and competence, and comply with BVRA’s requirements for a minimum of 5 hours continuing professional development (CPD) per 12 month period.
  • Veterinary receptionists are expected to contribute to the protection of public health and animal health and welfare, and should consider the impact of their actions on the environment.
  • Veterinary receptionists must help veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses report facts and opinions honestly and with due care.  Veterinary receptionists should be aware of the advice given by the RVCS to veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in relation to the 10 Principles of certification.
  • Veterinary receptionists who contribute to the promotion and advertising of products and services must do so in a professional manner.  Veterinary receptionists should be aware of the guidance which the RCVS gives veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses guidance in relation to advertising and publicity.
  • Veterinary receptionists must not engage in any activity or behaviour that would be likely to bring the profession into disrepute or undermine public confidence in the profession.
Menu