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Why work as a Senior Medical Science Liaison?

Posted on: 15 May

An IQVIA Medical Science Liaison Manager is responsible for influencing and building relationships with key opinion leaders to not only provide clinical and technical education, but also to implement guidance on compliance and ethics. It’s a key role within the medical and healthcare industry, giving people the opportunity to truly make a difference by collecting and interpreting insights into disease areas and treatment pathways.

For Senior Medical Science Liaison Raff Gaffar, no two workdays are the same, with plenty of opportunities to upskill and contribute to the healthcare community. Here’s what he has to say about working as an MSL:

“As a medical science liaison (MSL), my work helps to deliver solutions within the healthcare industry”

Raff’s main role is responding to the needs of his customers (healthcare providers, or HCPs), identifying scientific information and data that relates to current marketed products or compounds that are still in clinical development stage. He gathers insights from the medical field, understanding where treatment gaps are, what challenges exist, any efficacy and side effects information and what the profiles of the company’s own and competitor products are.These insights are fed back to the broader team to help develop solutions to address problems and opportunities, all with a view to developing better patient care.

“No two days are the same for an MSL”

The workload for an MSL is incredibly varied, with Raff’s average workday changing from week to week. Some days he spends time engaging with physicians in advance of commercial approval, developing relationships with thought leaders, whereas other days he’ll be working with colleagues to organise and run advisory boards and round table meetings, acting as a facilitator to scientific exchanges.

Other tasks include collaborating with key opinion leaders on patient management, while Raff’s favourite part of the role is working with key opinion leaders to generate clinical data through company-sponsored trials or investigator-initiated studies.

“Relationship building is a key part of my job”

Communication is a key skill within medical sales, and this is true of Raff’s role as well. An MSL must establish and maintain partnerships with physicians as well as acting as a critical bridge between the company and key healthcare professionals. This entails establishing connections with consultants who are influencers in their fields, members or drug formularies and specialist nurses, meaning the ability to build trust and rapport is essential for an MSL.

Raff also works on specific projects such as the development, organisation and facilitation of scientific advisory boards, which can lead to key clinicians contributing valuable opinions regarding how they might utilise the clinical features of therapies in their daily practice.

“I’m currently working on an exciting international project, managed by IQVIA”

Raff has worked on a number of projects with IQVIA in the past, and is currently involved in an international project with BeiGene. The ability to work on different large-scale projects under the IQVIA umbrella is one of the reasons why Raff loves his job, saying he’s found IQVIA an exciting, vibrant and fast-paced environment in which to work - not to mention the travel opportunities he’s enjoyed across the country and internationally.

According to Raff, an MSL’s career satisfaction is huge; he takes pride in seeing the value patients gain by safely using a drug he’s worked on from clinical stages through to approval. MSLs also provide immense value to key opinion leaders through clinical practice advancement, as well as to companies in the form of insight feedback.

“I am constantly upskilling and learning new things”

The nature of the industry means that Raff is constantly upskilling to understand advances within the disease area, taking into account clinical data, pipeline developments and competitors. He became an MSL after working within the sales and marketing function of the pharmaceuticals industry for many years, before retraining and moving into medical affairs. After working with MSLs in his sales role, Raff could see the immense value they added and was keen to remain in pharmaceuticals whilst exercising his business acumen, interpersonal skills and data handling expertise. Eight years later, he’s thriving.

“If you enjoy working with people, like science, are self-motivated and have a head for business, this is the job for you”

To anyone aspiring to become an MSL, Raff has a few words of advice. He recommends networking with people who are already in the industry – even shadowing an MSL if possible – or signing up to training and information programmes through MSL associations.t’s a fast-paced, dynamic-career that Raff loves, which can be incredibly rewarding for the right person.

Find your next Medical Science Liaison Manager role with IQVIA, or view our latest insights to find out more news and commentary from the medical sales career industry.