What Does a Medical Science Liaison Do?
A medical science liaison (MSL) is a healthcare professional who acts as an advocate and educator for a pharmaceutical company. They work with healthcare professionals, such as doctors and pharmacists, to create a better understanding of the products that the pharmaceutical company produces. MSLs also provide support to patients and their families when it comes to using medications.
In addition to being familiar with the diseases and conditions that a company’s drugs treat, MSLs must have extensive knowledge of the products themselves. They must be able to understand how medications work, what side effects might occur, how they should be used (including dosage), and know when they should not be used. MSLs need to have a firm grasp of the safety requirements and legal issues surrounding medication use.
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National Average Salary
Medical science liaison salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site zengig.com.
The average U.S. salary for a Medical Science Liaison is:
Medical Science Liaison Job Descriptions
The first step when hiring a great medical science liaison is a well-crafted job description. Below are real-world examples to help give you the best chance of success on your recruiting journey.
4 Corner is seeking a Medical Science Liaison to provide medical and scientific support for our products in the area of oncology. The MSL will be responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with healthcare professionals (HCPs) in order to create a better understanding of products and increase product awareness, providing clinical and scientific support for HCPs, and providing medical information for our products to patients, caregivers, and the general public via telephone, internet, or written materials. A bachelor’s degree or higher in a medical or life science discipline is typically required for this position. The previous work experience must be in the pharmaceutical or medical device industry
Typical duties and responsibilities
- Establish and maintain relationships with key healthcare professionals (HCPs) to create a better understanding of the company’s products and increase product awareness
- Provide clinical and scientific support for HCPs, including answering questions about products, drug interactions, side effects, and other related issues
- Prepare and deliver presentations on company products and participate in panel discussions
- Provide medical information to internal and external customers, including medical information officers, medical writers, and regulatory affairs
- Keep up to date on scientific and clinical developments in the therapeutic areas in which the company operates
Education and experience
- Bachelor’s degree in a scientific field, such as biology or chemistry
- Previous experience in the life sciences industry, such as as a medical representative or in medical communications
- Strong knowledge of the pharmaceutical and medical device industries
Required skills and qualifications
- Knowledge of drug development process, clinical research, and drug regulation
- Outstanding interpersonal, presentation, and writing skills
- Ability to work independently and as part of a team
- Detail-oriented and able to multitask in a fast-paced environment
- Ability to learn new concepts quickly
- Knowledge of medical and scientific terminology
- Familiarity with Microsoft Office Suite, including PowerPoint and Excel
- Thorough understanding of drug development process, including clinical trial design, phase terminology, and regulatory landscape
- Proven track record of effective scientific communication with a wide range of audiences, both internal and external
The Medical Science Liaison (MSL) is a field-based position of Medical Affairs that supports and represents ABC Company and its products with, and to, key opinion leaders (KOLs), clinicians, academic institutions, and professional organizations. The incumbent addresses the specific needs of these clients by responding to unsolicited requests for information about ABC Company’s marketed and developing products.
As the clinical and medical expert on the company’s products, he/she builds long-term relationships and establishes rapport with clinicians in hospitals, clinics, and academic centers through highly scientific product and disease-state discussions that support or expand current therapeutic concepts and ensures safe and effective utilization of products. The incumbent is also a resource to company management regarding market dynamics, business development, and client feedback.
The incumbent works cross-functionally with internal departments and external resources on Medical Science related issues.
The Medical Science Liaison supports adherence to relevant regulatory requirements and company Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as appropriate.
- Attends national and regional medical meetings and symposia as a representative of ABC Company and engages in discussions with attendees as appropriate; attends scientific sessions and poster presentations, gathers information, and summarizes findings; as possible, and when appropriate, cultivates professional relationships from these contacts
- Delivers, and may develop/design, fair-balanced and objective clinical and scientific presentations to healthcare professionals (HCPs), payors, and patient organizations in response to unsolicited requests for information on the use of company products
- Identifies and trains speakers for advisory boards, symposia, and educational programs with regulatory-approved materials, slide sets, abstracts, posters, etc.
- Identifies, organizes, and carries outs regional medical initiatives e.g advisory board as needed
- Provides input to management regarding alternative therapies, business development opportunities/risks, and client feedback
- Establishes, manages, and maintains successful relations with relevant health authorities, including but not limited to KOLs, HCPs, academic institutions, payors, patient organizations, etc.
- Facilitates the accurate and timely submission of applications for unrestricted educational grants or research initiatives and requests for support of studies, per company policy
- Maintains a thorough awareness of medical/clinical, regulator, compliance, and quality issues and processes as they apply to the ABC Company therapeutic areas and adheres to, and supports the standards established by the company
- Maintains competitor information relevant to the company’s therapeutic areas, goals/objectives, project activities, and/product team priorities, and stays current on therapeutic advances and competing therapies or products; analyzes and applies relevant intelligence findings and communicates and presents insightful data/impact in an efficient format to appropriate internal stakeholders
- A minimum level of education and years of relevant work experience
- Preferred, advanced degree (e.g., Masters, MPH, PharmD, M.D. or Ph.D.) in a scientific discipline and a minimum of 7 years progressively responsible, relevant experience in a pharmaceutical, biotechnology, or related environment with a minimum of 3 years experience as an MSL or equivalent Preferred Bachelors degree required
- Special knowledge or skills needed and/or licenses or certificates required
- Experience supporting products that are distributed through a specialty pharmacy and requires extensive coordination with patient access services
- In-depth, hands-on experience working with KOLs, clinicians, HCPs, payors, and/or academic institutions establishing/maintaining relationships and scientific/medical credibility
- Demonstrated success in interpreting scientific data and presenting research information to scientists and HCPs
- Excellent understanding of the pharmaceutical delivery process
- Ability to influence without direct authority
- Proficiency with Microsoft Office
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills, including scientific/technical writing and presentations including the ability to communicate complex technical information clearly
- Ability to work independently and collaboratively, as required, in a fast-paced, matrixed, team environment consisting of internal and external team members
- Analytical thinker with excellent problem-solving skills and the ability to adapt to changing priorities and deadlines
- Excellent planning, organization, and time management skills including the ability to support and prioritize multiple projects
- Must possess a valid driver’s license and a personal automobile with an active vehicle insurance policy. Must be able to travel on a daily basis to/from customer accounts and drive and/or fly long distances (distances will vary based upon the size of assigned territory)
- This position requires overnight travel, the amount of which will vary based on the assigned territory. In addition to travel within the territory, overnight and/or weekend travel outside of the assigned territory is required
- Daily entry to hospitals and other medical facilities is required. Many facilities have instituted vendor credentialing policies which require vendors to meet defined training, background check, and proof of immunization requirements as a condition of entry. ABC Company employees entering these facilities are required to abide by these credentialing requirements
- Special knowledge or skills and/or licenses or certificates preferred
- Experience supporting an orphan, rare disease, and/or specialized drug(s)
- Travel requirements: 50 – 60%
- At ABC Company we are seeking candidates in the United States who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or who will be fully vaccinated by the time they begin the position
The Medical Science Liaison functions as a member of the Medical Affairs department. This regional position may require up to 4 days of field travel per week with 1 day spent in a home office. The travel is within a defined geographic region, but occasionally additional travel may be necessary. The primary responsibility of the Medical Science Liaison (MSL) is to provide education and subject matter expertise to support ABC Company’s strategic initiatives.
Essential duties and responsibilities
- Become proficient in and demonstrate the ability to understand the major data sources (clinical trials, studies, published reports, etc.) relative to the use of ABC Company’s products
- Support healthcare providers by offering clinical and scientific information that helps guide medical decisions
- Support health systems, population health leaders, and medical quality professionals by offering clinical, public health, medical quality, and other scientific information to help guide medical decisions
- Deliver clinical and scientific presentations to healthcare providers, health systems, and medical group leadership, as well as community/advocacy groups
- Work collaboratively with the sales and marketing corporate departments and field sales teams to create and implement educational strategies for key clients
- Provide insight into market trends and competition
- Builds relationships and assists in the development of key opinion leaders
- Builds relationships with key decision makers in health systems, medical groups, healthcare provider offices, state departments of public health, advocacy organizations, and national/regional professional societies
- Collaborates with the Medical Affairs leadership in the development of key opinion leaders
- Collaborate with clients and thought leaders on a national, regional, and local level to develop clinical insights that support medical research associated with new and existing products
- Supports implementation team as needed
- Collects and reports market information within company guidelines
- Provides Clinical Affairs team with recommendations on investigator and site selection for future trials and studies
- Collaborate cross-functionally within Exact Sciences (e.g., Marketing) to supply clinical content for future growth
- Provides insights to the Sales Force Effectiveness team regarding opportunities for updates and improvements in sales force training
- Attend regional and national tradeshows, symposia, and scientific/clinical meetings
- Identify local/regional educational events such as patient education events and CME events
- Manage time and travel expense budget for scientific exchange and clinical education activities within dedicated regions
- Demonstrate excellent written and oral communication skills, as well as effective presentation skills
- Ability to work well independently and manage time effectively
- Strong attention to detail with a focus on producing high-quality work
- Strong verbal and written communication; public speaking skills
- Strong analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills
- Uphold company mission and values through accountability, innovation, integrity, quality, and teamwork
- Support and comply with the company’s Quality Management System policies and procedures
- Regular and reliable attendance
- Ability to work a normal schedule of Monday through Friday during normal business hours
- Ability to lift up to 10 pounds for approximately 10% of a typical working day
- Ability to work seated for approximately 60% of a typical working day. Ability to work standing for approximately 40% of a typical working day
- Ability to work on a mobile device, tablet, or in front of a computer screen, and/or perform typing for approximately 50% of a typical working day
- Ability to travel approximately 60% of working time
- Master’s degree in a relevant health professions/sciences or related field (biotechnology, biology, any clinical sciences leading to necessary skills) OR Bachelor’s degree in a relevant health professions/sciences or related field and 4+ years of field-based medical affairs experience in lieu of master’s degree
- 5+ years of industry experience in healthcare or medical technology fields with Medical Affairs or similar industry experience
- Possession of a valid driver’s license; no suspended, revoked, surrendered, invalid, etc. allowed
- No more than two moving violations, events, or accidents within the last 36 months
- No alcohol or drug event in which a vehicle was driven by the candidate or employee, including but not limited to Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) failure, refusal to submit to an alcohol or drug test, alcohol-related suspension, etc. in the last 36 months
- No other results from the Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) check expose ABC Company to what ABC Company deems to be an unacceptable level of liability
- Authorization to work in the United States without sponsorship
- Demonstrated ability to perform the Essential Duties of the position with or without accommodation
- A doctoral degree in relevant health sciences or related field (PharmD, Ph.D., MD) is preferred
- Experience in public health, population health management, health insurance, and medical quality
- Experience with screening and wellness programs is strongly desired
- An in-depth knowledge of the healthcare market, as well as experience with clinical trials, is a plus
- Experience working with and/or for advocacy groups and professional societies
As a Medical Science Liaison, you will provide the vital link between our laboratory, pharmaceutical services, and our physician customers. In this role, you will be responsible for communicating patient eligibility for clinical trials and various other medical outreach. You will be our subject matter expert on supported clinical trials including working with providers on how to seek enrollment for patients who may be potentially eligible. You’ll also be key in driving medical outreach to help physicians implement precision medicine into practice.
- Medical outreach to ordering and treating physicians about patients who may be potentially eligible for clinical trial enrollment or targeted therapies
- Documenting outreach interactions in CRM
- Identifying opportunities to improve the accuracy of our clinical trial and therapeutic matches based on available data sets or implementing new data capture processes
- Ability to talk physicians through our supported clinical trials and testing programs
- Education around companion and complementary diagnostics offered by NEO
- Advisor to customers on advanced technical issues
- Gather market intelligence on new products in development
Education and required qualifications:
- Advanced degree in Pharmacology, Genetics, Genomics, or a similar field preferred.
- Certified Genetic Counselor, Registered Nurse, or Oncology Certified Nurse preferred.
- Strong knowledge of molecular oncology needed
- Experience working with Oncologists and Hematologists in clinical trials is strongly preferred
- Previous laboratory experience (med tech, lab tech) preferred
- Exceptional communication and presentation skills are required, both verbal and written
- 2 years minimum experience and success in Oncology services; direct experience with clinical trial design and execution, ability to read, analyze, and interpret scientific and professional journals, technical procedures, or governmental regulations
- Ability to write reports, business correspondence, and procedure manuals
- Ability to effectively present information and respond to questions from groups of managers, clients, customers, and the general public
Candidate Certifications to Look For
There are no official certifications available for the Medical Science Liaison position, however, having a degree or Ph.D. that directly relates to medicine and/or pharmaceuticals is often preferred.
Medical Science Liaisons need to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape of medicine and science, which requires a great deal of self-education. Many MSLs are required to attend training and meetings throughout the year in order to stay up-to-date on the company’s products.
How to Hire a Medical Science Liaison
When hiring a medical science liaison, first consider the following:
- Recruiting: Do you have the knowledge, tools, and resources to attract and screen candidates?
- Complexity: Do you need a senior professional, or will mid or junior-level skills and experience suffice?
- Duration: Is this a one-time project or an ongoing need?
- Management: Do you have the time and expertise to direct the work effectively?
- Urgency: How soon does the work need to be completed?
- Headcount: Do you have the budget and approval for an internal employee, or should you consider alternate options?
Answering these questions will help determine the best course of action for your current hiring need. Fortunately, great options exist for every scenario. These are our recommendations:
1. Use 4 Corner Resources (or another professional recruiting firm)
The heavy lifting is done for you when working with a top-tier staffing company like 4 Corner Resources. We source, screen, recruit, and deliver only the most qualified candidate(s), saving you significant time and effort throughout the hiring process while you remain focused on your core business. Understanding your needs and ensuring the right candidate for the position is the key to our success.
This is the best route to take when:
- You need to fill the position quickly
- You want access to a vast talent pool of high-quality, prescreened candidates
- Your position is suited for temporary hiring services, contract staffing, or contract-to-hire recruiting, and you intend to direct the work activity.
- You are hiring an employee as a direct placement but aren’t able to recruit effectively or efficiently with your internal staff.
- You aren’t familiar with current salary rates, market trends, and available skill sets
2. Advertise your opening on a top job board
Your best option may be to advertise your opening on a proven job board. There are many widely used job sites out there that draw visits from qualified candidates. If you have someone internally who can dedicate the time and energy to sort through applications and screen individuals effectively, this can be a great choice.
We recommend using a job board when:
- Your internal recruiting team has the knowledge and experience to assess candidate qualifications
- You are hiring a direct employee and have time to manage the entire recruiting effort
- You have a process for receiving, screening, and tracking all resumes and applications
- You are prepared to respond to all applicants
We recommend CareerBuilder for medical science liaison openings:
CareerBuilder has been a trusted source for hiring since 1995. Reach 80+ million unique, diverse U.S. job seekers annually by posting your jobs through their talent acquisition channels. Through CareerBuilder, you can engage candidates and drive them into your sourcing pipeline. We recommend using CareerBuilder for hiring when you have the internal resources and processes to review, screen, and reply to all applicants.
3. Leverage your internal resources
You can utilize your own website, social media, and employees to assist in your search for top candidates.
A company website posting should be the first step in notifying prospective candidates that you are hiring. Social media can also be a powerful tool for spreading the word about your new opening. As far as exposure is concerned, this option can be as good as some job boards when you have a large enough following across various platforms, like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.
Current employees are every organization’s greatest asset. Encourage your internal team to promote job openings to their network by offering cash and other incentives.
We recommend these options when:
- Your brand has great name recognition
- You can consistently monitor and respond to candidate activity through your website and social media accounts
- You have a process in place to quickly and broadly communicate job openings and requirements
- You have an effective employee referral program in place
If you aren’t sure which path is best, schedule a discovery call today with our seasoned recruiting professionals. The 4 Corner team is on standby to help you find the best option for your unique hiring need.
Sample Interview Questions
- What experience do you have with the drug development process?
- How would you explain the role of a medical science liaison to a layperson?
- What do you think are the most important qualities of a successful MSL?
- What do you think sets your pharmaceutical knowledge apart from other candidates?
- What do you think are the benefits of having a medical science liaison on a team?
- What areas do you think need improvement in the drug development process?
- What do you think is the biggest challenge for a company that is developing a new drug?
- How do you think the role of MSLs will change in the next ten years?
- Why did you choose this career path, what professional background did you have that allowed it to be possible for you to do this job?
- In your opinion, what qualities make someone successful at MSL work?