New Year, New Laboratory Travel Opportunities

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New Year, New Laboratory Travel Opportunities:

How to prepare for contract positions while avoiding potential delays

Karen DiDonato ⋅ January 11, 2021

The new year is upon us (thank goodness!) and many of us are hoping for a very different year. Do we need to just “hope” or can we create our own direction? Sure, global events are outside of our own personal control, but we can make our own professional decisions to point ourselves in the directions we want to go in 2021.

Consider your professional goals for this year. Do they include continuing education growth, career advancement, or even a full change? Have you been working a permanent position for many years, but have often admired those travelers who come for a few months then go somewhere else? Do you just need a change? Consider becoming a contractor.

01 January in foreground; 2021 plan in background, all black and white

Reasons for doing contract work vary for everyone, but travelers report their typical reasons as:

  • Seeing the US: Becoming a traveler means you will be in charge of where you go. The options are only as limited as the available positions, but thankfully they are ever-changing and numerous! You could work in Alaska in June and July then head to Massachusetts for August and September, then steer clear of the cold in Florida for the winter. Your photo album can be full of nationwide adventures.
  • Resume Building: Working in multiple laboratories means you will likely work with a variety of laboratory information systems (LIS) or instruments that you may have never used before. You may also be asked to work more in a different department, which will increase your exposure to a variety of techniques and build your skills and confidence. The more skills you have, the larger the variety of instruments and LIS you use, the more intriguing your resume becomes to hiring managers.
  • Change: For some people, staying in the same position year after year is exactly what they want. Some people prefer to grow in one location or stay in their same position to enjoy the comfort of knowing their lab inside and out. But for others, they want change. Becoming a traveler can mean a new laboratory every 13 weeks (although contract length can vary). 
  • Meeting new people: Working in a new laboratory every few months means new coworkers who could become new friends. Your social circle can exponentially grow!

If you are already in a permanent position and have a few years experience under your belt, becoming a contractor might be exactly what you need to change the direction of your new year.

To begin traveling you should be aware your agency will ask you for a lot of paperwork. Having most of it at the ready will get you where you want to go even faster.

The following documents are most often required by facilities:

Immunizations: Proof of the following immunizations will likely be required of you: MMR, tetanus, influenza (if you will be traveling during flu season), hepatitis A and B, TB, Tdap, and varicella. Others may need to be provided, but these are the most commonly requested.

Physical: Keep your physicals up to date yearly and keep documentation at the ready.

References: Have a list of at least three professional references for jobs where you have worked most recently. Include multiple ways to contact the references since, as you already know, those who work in the laboratory are very busy.

Resume: Be sure to keep your resume up-to-date and be sure to include the city and state of all your work history (this will be used later for background checks), and ensure your current certifications, licenses, and education are clearly spelled out. All of this information will be verified, but having electronic copies is also extremely helpful to have on hand. Remember that licenses and most certifications expire, so be sure to keep copies of the latest most in-date documents.

Stack of papers with multiple paperclips in varying colors
Resume topped with glasses and pen

Speaking of licenses, the most successful travelers will already have valid and active licenses for the states they want to go. Rarely are contracts accepted with a pending state license. For information on getting licensed, click here.

The agency with which you are working will ask you to complete a drug screen as well as providing your consent for a background check. The sooner you do the drug screen and consent to the background check, the sooner they can start getting processed. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, courts are running slower than normal; delays are commonplace.

If you do not have all the required immunizations, you will be sent to a local medical facility to get them. Again, the sooner you get the immunization, the less likely your assignment will be delayed.

Lastly, make yourself available to your agency in the weeks and days leading up to your assignment. If your recruiter has any questions or needs copies of specific documents, the faster you get them that information, the less likely a delay will occur.

The most seasoned travelers will often send all required documents as soon as the interview is complete. They know time is of the essence, and they certainly do not want to be delayed.

Starting as a traveler can be daunting, but we are here to guide you through the process. HCI has 24 years of experience in placing professionals in clinical and anatomic pathology laboratories. We will walk you through the pre-employment screening process and keep you updated every step of the way. Afterall, your success is our success.

To view available travel positions, visit or contact your favorite recruiter. We also post multiple jobs every day to our social media platforms. Our travel jobs open and close quite quickly, so be sure to get in touch with where you want to go in 2021 so we can help get you there.

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Author: Karen DiDonatoKaren, our content marketing strategist, has worked with HCI since 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in communications. In her free time she enjoys baking, gardening, running, and all things Peloton-related.