MSL Mentor Program®

So you want to be an MSL?


No. Questions Answer
What is an “MSL”?
“MSL” is the general term used for Medical Science Liaisons. There are many other names that are used for this position within companies, but the term, “MSL” is the most common one. MSL positions today can be found within drug, biotech and medical device companies.  Most often they operate as their company’s field-based clinical resource to health care professionals.  They are NOT sales representatives and have no responsibility for directly promoting drugs, only for educating about diseases, related treatments and therapeutic agents.
2. Are the numbers of MSL programs on the rise? Definitely yes. Companies with MSL programs continue to expand them, and new companies are forming them. MSLs are becoming an integral part of forward-thinking companies’ plans. In some companies, they are replacing some of the more traditional positions such as sales representatives whose roles are diminishing due to limitations with sales access and increasing restrictions on products promotion in the United States.  MSLs work in a different role and offer other venues for access and scientific exchange with leaders in the medical community. MSL programs are the wave of the future.
3. What do MSLs do? MSLs forge “peer to peer” scientific relationships with key thought leaders in health care, academia, and managed care organizations.  They may collaborate with investigators to identify potential research opportunities.  They provide technical, clinical information, as requested, concerning disease states and their company products and scientific endeavors.
4. Do I need an advanced scientific degree (MD, PhD or PharmD) to obtain an MSL position? In general, Yes.  The majority of pharmaceutical, biotech and device companies, especially in the United States, do require a healthcare or doctoral level scientific degree such as an MD, MSN, PharmD, PhD, etc.
5. What percentage of my time would be spent traveling? MSL travel is dependent upon the geography assigned to them by their employer and the type of product/compound or device they are working on. Travel can range anywhere from 20% to greater than 50% overnight travel.  Usually an MSL works within his/her region about 4 days/week, with one office day each week.
6. Where do MSLs usually work? Most MSL positions are “field based”, which means that the MSL usually works out of a home office (verses a corporate office) and covers a defined geography which is assigned by his or her organization.
7. What are the key attributes of an MSL? Attributes for an MSL include:

  • Highly trained professional
  • Understanding of science and medical standards of care
  • General business acumen
  • Ability and confidence to interact with key medical opinion leaders
  • Excellent communicator
  • Good writing and presentation skills
  • Self-motivated, with strong follow-up skills and have the ability to work independently within guidelines
  • Team player yet able to work alone
8. How is MSL job performance evaluated? An MSL’s job performance is not in any way based on product/device sales.  The management team sets the goals and objectives of the MSLs.  Accomplishments and key performance indications are often a combination of qualitative and quantitative measures.
9. How do I know if I’ve found the right type of position? Currently there are many positions available due to high demand for the position coupled with a high level of qualifications required for this type of position. MSLs have an opportunity to work full-time, part-time, or as a contract employee.  There are some variations in the MSL role, which differ from company to company.  One of the main areas that talking with a MSL Mentor© can help is for you to not only evaluate if you are right for an MSL position, but also which type of MSLs positions may be right for you.  Many factors should be taken into consideration which will be discussed with you during your session.
10. If hired, will I get special training that would help me to understand the responsibilities and requirements to be an MSL? Yes. Companies with solid MSL programs insist that MSLs be trained. Scientific Advantage/SSI provides a full spectrum of training and development courses for MSL Core Competencies, Legal & Regulatory, and other MSL related activities.

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