I was a receptionist for a doctor.

You will need to make an appointment with the doctor. However, it can be daunting to pick up the phone to call the surgery.

It can feel more difficult to get through to reception than speak to the Queen, but appointments are scarce and if you get the receptionist on a bad day it can feel you’re getting a telling-off too.

The receptionist at your local doctor's is there to help you


The doctor’s office receptionist can help you.Credit: Getty

Although doctor receptionists are sometimes accused of being “rude”, there are many factors at work that you may not be aware of.

Richard Kellow is a former receptionist and is now a hypnotherapist. Kellow HypnotherapyThis article explains why this role is wrongly given such a poor reputation…

“It was continuous all day”

First, remember that your local surgery receptionist doesn’t just answer the phone.

Richard says: “It was non-stop from the moment we switched on the phones in the morning.

“We’d also book appointments and type referral letters from specialists to doctors. We would then file the paperwork.

It's far from easy being a doctor's receptionist and patients can be demanding at times


Being a doctor’s receptionist is not an easy job. Patients can sometimes be demanding.Credit: Getty

“We’d also liaise with the couriers who collected the blood and urine samples taken, and then we’d process prescriptions and have to keep the waiting room tidy.”

“The same people returned day after day.”

Some patients, however, were more demanding than others.

Richard says: “The same people would come back day after day to see the doctor, and it would be those people who would come up to the reception after waiting 20 minutes to ask if we’d forgotten them, convinced everyone else got to see the doctor quicker.

“Sometimes people felt that we just didn’t want them to see the doctor – as if it was our choice when they would get medical attention or maybe we were just making them wait for the fun of it.

“In reality it would make our life so much easier if we could get everyone through as quickly and smoothly as possible.”

Patient demands and rude

Which part was the most difficult?

Richard says: “Rude patients. Genuinely. People often didn’t appreciate that you were there to help them too. Patients might also ask for medication.

“Sometimes their repeat prescriptions weren’t due or perhaps the doctor hadn’t signed it off, but they still wanted you to get it for them – and to get it now.

“Quite often, they were too stressed to listen to logic and reason.

“Making personal comments about the receptionist’s image, booking appointments and then not showing up for them and making demands to see a doctor were some of the common mistakes patients would make.”

We are here to help, not hinder

You might be rude to your local GP receptionist next time.

Richard says: “Remember that they are there to help and not hinder you.

“Although they may not have special powers to get you what you want when you want it, being aggro definitely won’t win any points.

“Giving a smile, a thank you or being the person who is willing to accommodate requests made by the doctor or receptionist does get noticed.”

We try our best.

Richard says, “I love my job.” Being part of the chain that connected patients and medics felt like I was making a real difference.

“Sometimes it’s easier for us to put our head down and get on with the job. It doesn’t mean we are ignoring you or being rude, it’s just quicker for us to get on and get you seen.

“We know you are there, we know exactly who came in before and after you.

“We try our best, but we are also fielding requests from numerous other areas such as the labs, Drs, phones but we do the job as we genuinely love seeing you, the patients.”

Patients can understandably get frustrated while waiting to see the doctor - but it's not the receptionist's fault


While patients may be frustrated when waiting to see the doctor, it isn’t the receptionist’s fault.Credit: Getty
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