Medical Science Liaison

 Salary Range: £45,000 to £65,000


Job role/title and company: Medical Science Liaison

What does your average day involve?

One of the great things about the job is that every day is different. Mainly we are out in the field visiting healthcare professionals / scientific experts / key opinion leaders or attending events and conferences. Every meeting is different as it can be a presentation, responding to a specific request for medical information or setting up a collaboration. Collaborations can take many forms including clinical trials or medical projects. The expectation is to be out in the field most of the time having meetings with key opinion leaders / scientific experts. When we are not out at meetings or events, we have internal face to face meetings including training events or we can work from home participating in virtual meetings and preparing for our next visits.

Pathway to career as MSL:

An early interest in science led me to pursue general sciences at school. With a keen interest in medical sciences I enrolled in Pre-Medical Studies CertHE, on completion of that course I gained second year entry into an accredited Undergraduate Biomedical Sciences course. After a couple of years out, working seasonal jobs, including two ski seasons, I enrolled in a Masters of Research course and subsequently got the opportunity to do a PhD. Before the completion of my PhD I transitioned to employment in research on a number of collaborative research projects. Whilst working on these projects I completed my PhD. Then I decided to focus on the aspects that I enjoyed the most, which were communication and setting up collaborations, so I started learning and applying for medical affairs’ roles.


How did you find out about this position?

Initially via my own research online then by networking and speaking to people in the role and other medical affairs professionals.


What skills/qualifications are required for this job?

Most companies will require a medical degree, pharmacy degree, or higher science degree such as MSc, or PhD. In the UK most MSLs have a PhD or come from a pharmacy background.  An in depth scientific and medical knowledge is also required. Therapy area experience is advantageous. The role requires a range of skills including communication skills, organizational skills and being able to critically appraise complex information. It is also important to be mindful of the ethical implications associated with the pharmaceutical industry to ensure all activities remain compliant.


What attracted you to your current position?

In my previous role, the part I was enjoying the most was communicating the science and setting up collaborations so this role is the perfect opportunity to hone those skills and put them to use on a daily basis. Additionally, I was always interested in the translational side of science and the bench to bedside concept; one of the rewarding aspects of this role is that it enables you to contribute to better patient outcomes.


What is career progression like? What would be the next step?

Many people progress to senior MSL or team leader and subsequently to medical affairs managers. There is also scope to transition to other medical function roles at head office or globally if in an international company. People can also go in to medical education, training roles or consultancy.


What do you like most about the job?

The part I enjoy the most about this job is being able to add value to health care professionals and scientific experts and ultimately contribute to better patient outcomes.


What do you least like?

The least attractive part of the role in my opinion are the key performance indicators. It is notoriously hard to measure and upwards report the impact of medical affairs activity.


On average how many hours a day do you work?

It varies a lot but if I had to put a number on it I would say approximately 9 hours. There is a lot of travel required for this role as often the territories covered are large and we also attend national and international conferences and events, sometimes requiring over night stays. In addition, there is always more to learn and some meetings require a lot of preparation. I try to maintain a good work life balance. It is important to be mindful of this as there is always so much to do and learn. I prioritize my workload to try to avoid working late unless it is a high priority event or a rigid deadline.


Is there any opportunity for flexible working hours?

It depends, when not out in the field at meetings or events, MSLs mainly work from home and manage their own diaries so it is different from your typical 9-5 job however there are many rigid deadlines and external facing activities always take priority.