Are you considering a career as a Medical Science Liaison (MSL)? In this blog post, we share valuable insights using experience from those who have transitioned from the clinical or academic worlds to a successful career as a medical science liaison. Let’s dive into the key skills, challenges, and rewards of this exciting field, and learn how you can make the most of your Ph.D, PharmD, or MD/DO. experience.

A Career Path Beyond the Lab and Clinic

There are many examples of paths that have been taken to make the transition, but some of the more common ones include completing a Ph.D., and then a short postdoc before making the transition. Alternatively, if you are a pharmacist or medical doctor, it is not uncommon to complete postgraduate residencies and practice clinically before becoming a Medical Science Liaison. Generally, it does help to have some work experience prior to becoming an MSL.

Key Skills for Success in Medical Science Liaison Roles

1. Communication: Effective communication is crucial for MSL roles. Giving presentations, leading lab meetings, journal clubs, writing grants, and manuscripts for help developing strong communication skills. In an MSL role, one-on-one meetings, large presentations, emails, phone calls, and web conferences are all essential means of communication.

2. Business and Clinical Medicine Knowledge: As an MSL, it is important to understand how biotech companies work and how clinical medicine is practiced. Many candidates have to learn about business and clinical medicine after transitioning from a lab setting. Understanding evidence-based medicine, clinical trial design, and the treatment of patients is critical for this role.

3. Networking: Networking is vital for career growth and finding synergies within the company. We suggest making the most of in-person meetings, congress attendance, and networking through social media (ie. LinkedIn) to connect with industry professions to build and maintain relationships. However, this must be done properly- you should be using these meetings to learn from them.

The Rewards of an MSL Career

1. Fast-paced and Exciting Environment: MSL roles are dynamic, with new challenges and opportunities arising regularly. The cutting-edge science and constant influx of new information keep the job engaging and exciting.

2. Flexibility: Maintaining your schedule involves a lot of travel, and also working from home. MSLs have more control over their schedules than many other positions, which is a significant perks of this MSL career path. This flexibility can lead to a better work-life balance compared to traditional clinical or academic roles.

3. Building Relationships: Establishing connections with KOLs, healthcare professionals, colleagues, mentors, and friends during your time in grad school and beyond can be invaluable. The relationships you build prior to working in the industry may be essential for your success and happiness.

Postdoctoral Experience and Preparation for MSL Roles

While a traditional postdoc may not be required for an MSL position, many companies require a doctoral degree plus at least two years of related experience. This could include research postdocs, clinical experience, or involvement in clinical research.

Words of Wisdom for Grad Students, Postdocs, and New Graduated Advanced Degrees

Remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The training and foundation acquired during your studies will stay with you forever and will help you succeed in whichever career paths you choose beyond the lab, hospital, or clinic. Embrace the challenges, learn from your experiences, and look forward to the opportunities that await in your next career steps!


A career as a Medical Science Liaison offers a dynamic, rewarding, and flexible path for Ph.D, PharmD, and MD/DO. holders. Developing strong communication skills, acquiring business and clinical medicine knowledge, and networking effectively can open doors to success in this field. If you’re considering a career as a medical science liaison, you can use these insights to start preparing for the exciting journey ahead.