Medical Science Liaison (MSL) Profession

The Medical Science Liaison (MSL) Profession offers tremendous opportunities for those with a clinical or scientific background interested in educating healthcare providers on cutting edge drugs and devices. The ACMA is exclusively dedicated to advancing the global MSL profession. The ACMA serves as a voice for the MSL profession by offering a benchmark through the Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist (BCMAS) program which is the standard of excellence for MSL professional development and MSL training. The BCMAS program is the first and only Board Certification for MSLs. The BCMAS program is considered the industry standard for MSL professional development and MSL training.

The ACMA is the only organization committed to the MSL profession which has been featured in mainstream media such as ABC News, Forbes and the Boston Herald. The ACMA is building further awareness of the important contributions that MSLs make in advancing the science which ultimately improves the quality of life of patients. The ACMA Society provides numerous resources for those interested in the MSL career, as well as, professional growth and development opportunities for current medical affairs professionals, including medical directors, MSL Managers, MSL directors and individual MSLs.

As the MSL role continues to grow and evolve, The ACMA is at the forefront for providing resources to the community to help increase knowledge, connect them to the global MSL community, and give them the tools and resources they need to advance in their careers.


What is a Medical Science Liaison?

The Medical Science Liaison (MSL) is a specific role within the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, CRO and other health-care industries. MSLs have advanced scientific training and academic credentials generally consisting of a doctorate degree (Ph.D., PharmD., M.D.) in the life sciences. They concentrate on a specific Therapeutic Area (i.e. Oncology, Cardiology, CNS, Pulmonary, Hematology, Surgery, Women’s Health Care, etc) and disease state.

The Medical Science Liaison (MSL) profession has grown over 300% in the pharmaceutical industry and they are vital to the success of an organization.


What MSLs do?

Depending on where a product is in its lifecycle, they may work to recruit patients in clinical trials, or support sales and other cross functional areas within a pharmaceutical company. MSLs help to ensure that products (drugs, devices, diagnostics) are utilized effectively. MSLs serve as scientific peers and resources within the medical community. MSLs are scientific experts to internal colleagues at companies. One of the primary areas of focus for the MSL role is to establish and maintain peer-peer relationships with leading physicians, referred to as External Experts (EE) formerly known as Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs).

Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) were first established by Upjohn Pharmaceuticals in 1967 as a response to the need for scientifically trained field staff that would be able to build rapport with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) in various therapeutic areas of research. Although originally called Medical Science Liaisons by Upjohn, over the years and today, companies have used various names for the role including: Medical Liaisons, Medical Managers, Regional Scientific Managers, Clinical Liaisons, and Scientific Affairs Managers among others. Originally, the first MSLs were selected from experienced sales representatives that had strong scientific backgrounds to bring a higher degree of clinical and educational expertise to the medical professionals they were working with. Over the years, MSL teams have been made up of individuals with various scientific backgrounds including: sales reps, those with nursing backgrounds, those with various doctoral degrees or other clinical backgrounds. However, the required educational and scientific background as well as the purpose of the MSL role has progressively changed over the years since they were first established.

In the late 1980’s, a number of companies began to require those applying to MSL roles to hold a doctorate degree such as an M.D., PharmD., or Ph.D. Although, historically, the educational standard in the industry did not require MSLs to have a doctorate degree, today the doctorate degree has become the educational standard in the industry for the MSL role. In fact, according to one benchmark study, more than 90% of current MSLs hold a doctorate degree. Although the MSL role is evolving, the MSL community is still small when compared to other professions within the pharmaceutical industry. However, 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 300% in the last decade. The evolution and rapid growth of the role has resulted in the need for a professional board certification to establish a standard of excellence for the profession.


Benefits of earning a Board Certification for MSLs through the Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist Program (BCMAS).

What you get when you enroll in the BCMAS program:

  • Mentorship with MSLs and MSL managers and directors.
  • Discounted access to Live Global MSL Conferences with Key Thought Leaders and Industry Experts.
  • Complimentary access to enduring ACMA Webinars on the MSL profession.
  • Exclusive Networking opportunities within the Global MSL community.
  • Inclusion into the ACMA pharmaceutical industry career database for MSLs and medical affairs professionals.
  • Access to Share and learn industry best practices for MSLs.
  • Access to industry policies and procedures for MSL teams.
  • Access to career advancement tools and resources.
  • Discounts when posting jobs to our exclusive ACMA MSL Job Board.

Why Get a Board Certification as an MSL?

  • Stay Ahead of the Curve
  • Expand Your Knowledge
  • Advance Your Career

Why the Medical Science Liaison & Medical Affairs – Board Certification?

The Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist Program (BCMAS) sets the industry standard for the MSL and medical affairs profession by providing an independently accredited professional development program to assess an individual’s industry knowledge, while affording them a credential that proves their industry knowledge and skill set to employers and peers, enabling career advancement and improving their overall contribution to the lives of patients whom their valued expertise ultimately impacts. The BCMAS is the only available Board Certification for MSLs and is the only accredited program.


Value of an Accredited Board Certification

The BCMAS certification is the golden seal of excellence within the Medical Affairs and the MSL community. It is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education & Training (IACET/ANSI). Additionally, the ACMA is a joint provider of CME/CE along with Scientia CME so BCMAS professionals can earn CME/CE credits. Always look for an accredited professional development program. Board Certification for MSLs via BCMAS establishes an industry standard of professionalism, sets the standard for quality for MSLs globally.

Professional Development

By committing to becoming an BCMAS professional, you are promoting a higher level of professionalism, validating your competence by successfully meeting eligibility requirements and successfully passing a psychometrical validated certification exam, you’ve dedicated yourself to quality standards and have elevated yourself above your peers.