Is MSL a Potential Career Path for you?

sales associate med career newsPharmaceutical Sales Representative

Interested in working in the medical field but sales isn’t your thing? Enjoy aspects of research but don’t want to do it full time? Are you a pharmacist and thinking about a career change? Check out the possibility of becoming a Medical Science Liaison. Read on, and if it seems interesting check out our career quiz to learn more!

What does a Medical Science Liaison do?

The Medical Science Liaison (MSL) is a specific role within the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries that generally help bridge the gap between their company and their products and the academic and medical institutions where those products undergo clinical trials. They help develop clinical protocol and administer proposals when necessary.

They can be responsible for interpreting logical and therapeutic data and then presenting that data to healthcare organizations and professionals, which may include hospitals, pharmacists, and general practitioners. They also identify and present research opportunities to support clients’ products and customers.

Medical Science Liaisons are vital to the success of a company that has a heavy development pipeline. They work throughout a product’s lifecycle, help to ensure that products are utilized effectively, serve as scientific peers and resources within the medical community, and are scientific experts to internal colleagues at companies. They often train sales personnel, providing them with up-to-date knowledge of products and its uses.

An additional part of the MSL role is to establish and maintain peer-peer relationships with leading physicians, referred to as Key Opinion Leaders (KOL’s), at major academic institutions and clinics. These relationships allow them to provide their company with windows of insight into the market and competition.

What are the job requirements?

Medical science liaisons are required to have a doctorate, medical degree, or other graduate-level education in nursing or health and life sciences. They usually also have relevant experience in a specific Therapeutic Area, like Oncology, Cardiology, CNS, Pulmonary, Hematology, Surgery, Women’s Health Care or a specific disease state. Medical Science Liaison positions require excellent communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to maintain and develop effective business relationships. They also need to be able to convey technical information to both technical and non-technical audiences. Medical Science Liaisons generally work full time and spend much of their time traveling and meeting with relevant professionals.

Growth of the field and salary expectations

Although the MSL community is still small when compared to other professions within the pharmaceutical industry, there has been an exponential growth of the role over the last several years. According to a recent benchmark study, at the top ten pharmaceutical companies in the U.S., the MSL role has grown by an average of 76% since 2005.

PharmaVoice reported the average salaries for MSLs working in the United States in 2014 ranged between $103,000 and $180,000 based on a recent benchmarking report by pharmaceutical intelligence provider Cutting Edge Information. Among surveyed companies, MSL experience level had the largest impact on salaries.

The good news is the longer you stay in the field, the more your salary grows. For example, an MSL with no experience will make an average salary of $107,000 at a top 10 pharmaceutical company. That amount, however, increases to $133,000 with two years of experience and $160,000 with five or more years of experience.

There are a lot of resources to learn more about this field, including the Medical Science Liaison Society, a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization dedicated to the MSL career.

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