Issue 19

Day in the Life:  Receptionist

We have been asked to write an article about a day in the life of the receptionist. There will be much that you all know as you watch us go about our duties but there’s more to the job than meets the eye folks!  Over the years the job has evolved and besides the normal everyday duties we perform there are other aspects of the job which has necessitated the compilation of a manual as a point of reference for all there is a need to know about the job. To date the manual comprises 66 pages and they are not all about how to press the buttons to open the doors!

There are 5 of us in total, all working full time. We work a shift pattern so that reception is covered from 6.30am to 10pm every day of the year. Yes, that means Christmas day as well! The early shift is 6.30am until 2.30pm, the 2 day shifts are 8am until 4pm and 9.30am until 5.30pm and the late shift is 1.45pm until 10pm. To cover annual leave, days off or sickness the 9.30am receptionist fills the gaps in the rota and the 8am receptionist works on until 5.30pm.

The early shift receptionist starts her shift at 6.30am and prepares reception for the working day. We unlock the key cabinets and switch the telephone consoles from night service to day service. When reception is not manned incoming calls are redirected to Newton ward, which is also connected to the doorbell intercom outside the main clinic door. The early morning ward staff start arriving between 6.30am and we let them in and tell them what the date is as they are usually too tired to work it out for themselves! Other early morning duties include switching on the clinic mobile phones and sorting the mail when the postman drops it off.

At 8am another receptionist starts her shift as 2 receptionists are needed when the bread, milk and newspapers are delivered and all the non ward based staff start arriving between 8am and 9am. This is fondly known as the rush hour! One receptionist hands out keys and mail, while the other operates the doors and answers the phone – that's the theory, sometimes it doesn't always work in practice!

At 9.30am the affectionately known "spare" receptionist enters the premises! Our day duties that you all are probably familiar with are: letting people in and out of the clinic, issuing keys, greeting visitors and outpatients, answering the phones, paging staff, making the car bookings, getting the car keys, log sheets and mobiles ready for patients leave, reporting and logging problems with the clinic cars, ordering and logging taxis, faxing, photocopying, checking our emails and responding to them, labelling keys and pagers, maintaining key holder records, phoning the wards when the sandwich van arrives (very important!) and, sometimes, running around like headless chickens!! There is another "rush hour" between 4.30pm and 5.30pm when everyone is going home, so it's all hands on deck again!

As the evenings and week-ends are much quieter reception only needs one receptionist in attendance. It is during these times that we knuckle down to other little jobs such as typing, making the pretty coloured books everyone signs in and out of, making the car booking diary, checking the appointments/meetings calendar on the computer and writing them in our desk diary, checking our stocks of stationary, checking the monthly taxi invoice, charging up the mobile phones and advising the wards of any changes to the on call rotas.

The night ward staff start arriving for work between 8.30pm and 9pm and when they are all in and the afternoon shift ward staff have been let out reception can be closed. The final duties of the receptionists day are to turn off all the mobile phones, lock all the key cabinets, switch the telephone consoles to night service, remind Newton ward staff to put the intercom on and then go home!

Cheryl~ Caswell Clinic Receptionist