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Medical Affairs: Diverse Roles and Opportunities

With the continuous development of medical devices, drug innovation, gene therapies, and new sophisticated molecules, the demand for health workers in the growing medical affairs area never ceases to expand. 

According to Dr William Soliman, founder of the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA), medical affairs will boom by over 60% in the next few years. 

So, if you have the right qualifications, supporting core skills, and a passion for patient-centred healthcare, then mapping out a successful career path in medical affairs can be easy.

But what do medical affairs jobs entail?

Medical Affairs is a diverse sector with many cross-functional environments, and it’s good to know what the different roles entail before you kickstart your career

The primary focus of all the roles is to provide scientific and clinical support for commercial products. But some roles differ in responsibility. Let’s break them down:

Junior medical information role

Most medical affairs careers start with a junior medical information role. 

This type of medical job involves a lot of communication, and employees will be expected to handle enquiries around company products (from patients and healthcare professionals) - they will also need to liaise with marketing teams to provide client feedback. 

Some enquiries will be straightforward to answer. However, enquiries can also be complex and require junior medical affairs workers to research literature and prepare more formal and intricate responses.   

Medical affairs manager (or head of medical affairs)

In part, the job of a senior medical affairs worker (manager or department head) is to oversee juniors and provide guidance and support to their roles. 

But this position also extends to crafting long-term strategies that improve information delivery and education. 

Furthermore, medical affairs seniors are often expected to handle budgets, ensure trial applications are in order, hire and train new employees, review regulatory compliance and paperwork with the legal department, and build relationships with healthcare professionals and experts. 

Scientific advisors

Scientific Advisors are mostly responsible for copy approval and assisting marketing teams with the correct scientific information and code compliance for marketing material, press releases, brochures and guides, conferences, etc. 

Most often, they are also expected to form relationships with key opinion leaders in their industry to build and maintain awareness of the products and brands.

Medical science liaisons

Medical science liaisons (MSLs) have similar roles to scientific advisors, except that they are generally field-based in a designated territory with a primary focus on building relationships with key industry leaders or experts. 

Additionally, they are expected to support sales and marketing teams, ensure compliance with industry standards, coordinate trials and medical events, and support other aspects of clinical trial processes.

How do you attain a role in medical affairs?

If you want a career in medical affairs, the minimum qualification requirements are generally a bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy or Life sciences. 

However, core skills such as good communication, relationship management, transparency, and organisation will also benefit your career expansion. 

According to the Medical Affairs Professional Society, “those working in Medical Affairs should expect to be involved in the entire patient/product journey, utilising available tools to gather insights from health professionals and patients to refine and enhance health outcomes.” 

Medical affairs plays a key role in the pharmaceutical industry and allows many career growth opportunities.

Kickstart your medical affairs career with IQVIA 

Medical Affairs is certainly a rewarding career path. It’s an area where you can positively contribute to the health industry and help companies achieve the best patient-centred care.  

At IQVIA, we’re a diverse community of experienced and highly skilled individuals. 

With 61,000 colleagues in 100 countries, our team uses industry knowledge and expertise to provide the best solutions to the healthcare sector. We have an unwavering commitment to patients, ethics and safety.

If you’d like to see where a career with IQVIA could take you, browse our current medical affairs vacancies or contact us today.


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