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5 Best Tips For Making Your Mark in the Lab

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Woman in Scrub Suit Wearing Protective GogglesLanding your new lab job is only the first step toward a successful engagement — it's also essential to demonstrate your professional value throughout your time on assignment. Building your professional network of colleagues is invaluable in helping you get ahead in your lab career, as well as establishing your reputation as a trusted and respected member of the team.

There are several strengths labs look for. Here are 5 tips to make your mark once you’re hired:
  1. “With your guidance, I’ll do it.” When asked to take on new tasks, your answer should almost always be “yes.” If the equipment or methods are new to you, ask questions and learn as you go. Be willing to put in the work to learn new skills, and know when to ask appropriate questions. The most valued employees are those who will try new things and gain new knowledge, and also those who are receptive to feedback so they can improve next time. Showing a desire to learn and work together will prove to your coworkers you are eager to contribute to the team and alleviate some of their workload.
  2. Be organized. Organization is one of the top skills lab leaders are looking for in their new hires. Prove your value by keeping equipment clean and tools readily available. Draw or photograph complicated specimens to provide better accuracy and clarity among the team. Finally, use clear, concise dictation that doesn’t lead to misunderstandings or confusion. Good organization means better lab efficiency and better relationships with your pathology or histology lab colleagues.
  3. Learn how the lab runs. Every great team has methods and protocols that work for them. Learn what makes your new pathology or histology lab run efficiently, and adopt these methods into your work process. Determine how your coworkers like things done and try to integrate yourself seamlessly into the team. When you are given tasks to complete, meet and even exceed expectations by delivering prompt, professional, quality work. At the same time, it is also acceptable to offer insight wherever you see potential gaps in the way the lab runs — sometimes new eyes can offer a fresh viewpoint that will help your colleagues make changes that will further improve their methods.
  4. Pay attention to details. The best pathologists’ assistants and histotechnologists are meticulous in their methods. Make sure your work is accurate, timely and professional, and be confident in your approach. This means making sure you have a good understanding of the technology used at the lab, and if not, being willing to learn it quickly. When you complete your work, communicate your findings in an efficient and straightforward manner so pathologists and supervisors don’t feel the need to double check what you’ve done. Once they start trusting your work methods, you’ll start being assigned more advanced tasks.
  5. Be open to feedback. Any job requires a willingness to accept constructive criticism and be willing to learn new things. When a lab manager, pathologist or your direct supervisors do take a second look at your work or ask you to do it a different way, be willing to adapt, learn and change. Be respectful toward them and show that their input is well received and a valuable contribution to your work. While you can be confident in the way you complete tasks, you can also be open to new technologies, new methods, and new knowledge.

These five tips can quickly help you become an integral part of your new workplace. Whether on a temporary or permanent lab assignment, be sure to focus on your strengths and serve as a team player to help create an efficient and professional lab environment where you're viewed as a valued contributor.

Want even more career-building secrets? Download your FREE handbook from Nicklas Medical Staffing filled with resources and tools to navigate the job market.

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