Training is key to making good appointments

Proper training for employees ensures a well-run practice. See what you can do to ensure that a new receptionist can handle making a good appointment schedule.

Q: I've just hired a new receptionist and could use a little help in training her. Please share some tips.

Making good appointments requires collecting lots of information about patients. To determine the caller's eligibility to be seen, relative urgency, and expected duration of visit, the scheduler needs to listen carefully to what the patient says and, especially, to what the patient is not saying. In busy practices, patients may have a difficult time getting the appointments they want, so they can become manipulative, evasive, or melodramatic when answering questions. The receptionist's best response is simply, "I understand." Those two words go a long way in letting patients know that you take them seriously and are sensitive to their feelings.

Answers to readers' questions were provided by Judy Bee, Practice Performance Group, La Jolla, California. She is also an editorial consultant for Medical Economics Send your practice management questions to Also engage at and

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