Fixation on Histology

Are All Traveling Histotechnologists the Same?


What is a corporate traveling HistologistIn the Beginning….

The 1980s ushered in a persistent histologist shortage that created the foundation for the travel histology industry.  The ease, in finding a job during this shortage allowed histologists from the northern states to spend their winters in warmer climates.  Hospitals and labs in Florida and California were desperate to hire per diem and temporary workers to handle the seasonal influx of the Florida snowbirds and the irregular influx of the California movie industry.  Travel histology industry contracts were originally modeled after the travel nursing industry.   However, in 2022 there are different approaches to using traveling histotechnologists to address our work shortage – The Agency Traveler and The Corporate Traveler.

The Agency Traveler

The shortages we are experiencing today in histology are inclusive - histotechnicians, histotechnologists, histology technicians or any other name your institution decides to call you.  When a healthcare institution (a third party) needs a healthcare specialist (the principal) like a histology specialist, they hire indirectly through the agency as a temporary contract worker.. The agent (sometimes called a recruiter) is the person employed to find work for you in a histology lab and to represent you in the initial negotiations with the healthcare institution. There is always a contract when working through an agency. It is imperative that you take the time to understand the terms of your contract – don’t be afraid to ask questions or do your own research.  The contract’s pay structure is called a pay package and is much more than a paycheck. The agency traveler will have employment details and pay package information documented in a binding contract.  Components of the pay package include the taxable hourly rate, the non-taxable lodging per diems, the non-taxable meals and incidentals (M&I), and the overtime rate. The contract will occasionally include any allowances for rental car, any allowances for personal use of car and mileage, any negotiated time off, any round-trip airfare and anything else that is agreed upon. Any benefits like medical and dental insurance, tuition reimbursement, uniform allowances, 401K match etc. will come from the agency.  All contracts must be signed prior to the start of an assignment. Although you are on temporary assignment to the hospital/lab your paycheck comes from the agency and not the third party. The third party pays the agency, the agency takes their cut and then the agency pays you. The agency traveler must agree to the assignment and frequently has choices. The length of contract can vary but is typically 13 weeks.  Contracts are often extended if the healthcare institution still has a need, they are happy with your services, and you have a desire to stay.

The Corporate Traveler

A corporate traveling histologist is a newer model that eliminates the agency as a middle man.  Instead of getting a temporary specialist from an agency, corporations are now hiring their own travelers directly and permanently.  The corporate traveler enjoys a full benefits package equal to all other permanent employees. A corporate traveling histologist is hired by the corporation with the sole purpose of sending them out to a variety of labs that fall under their corporate umbrella.  Thus, any travel done on behalf of your company, is corporate travel, and covered under their corporate travel reimbursement policies.  This newer model is not typically employed by small corporations rather it is utilized by corporations who hold a large market share of laboratory services and therefore need a large staff of histologists.  Although the corporate traveler is the “new kid on the block” its growing popularity in larger institutions


The key when working in either environment is to be fully aware of the terms of your agreement.   For a glimpse into daily life of a traveling histotechnologist check out my travel blog.



Written by Anna Harris-Shaw, HT-QIHC MS Law, MBA Healthcare Management

#Lab Safety
1 comment



11-11-2022 23:43

Firstly; I have to thank Anna Harris-Shaw, HT-QIHC MS Law, MBA Healthcare Management for the contribution and avoid my confusion in " Travel Histology Laboratory professional". It is explained well with its recommendation.