What are the most important skills new MSL need to be successful in the field?

Flexibility.  A candidate that possesses the ability to be flexible, think on their feet, be open to changes and is self-motivated will make an excellent MSL.  In addition to these integral skills, a high-level expertise in the therapeutic area is very crucial. An individual new to the MSL role, who has a strong knowledge base as well as a familiarity of the key thought leaders in the therapeutic area, will be far more successful than someone who is trying learn the MSL role while learning the therapeutic area.

What are the biggest challenges new MSL face?

I believe the biggest challenges occur within the first year or two of their integration into a new MSL role.  There is a challenging learning curve within the Pharmaceutical Industry that must be traversed when transitioning from non-industry clinical or research roles.  The new MSL must quickly gain a clear understanding of the regulatory guidelines to help them navigate and redefine their prior roles to that of an MSL in their approach to KOL relationship interactions.

How can companies best support and help new MSLs?

I believe a well-organized hiring process that gets the right MSL into the right position with regards to their type of expertise (MSL vs. therapeutic) is the first step.  Next, a solid well planned out onboarding/orientation plan is key. There must be an unrushed attention to detail in the early onboarding to set the stage for an effective well-prepared MSL team.  Training takes time, rushing an MSL into the field with inadequate training and validation of knowledge is a recipe for failure.

What should companies do to ensure the success of new MSLs?

Effective onboarding.  Adequate training, coupled with mentorship and continued support is ultimately what determines the success of the MSL.  A company that also provides ongoing MSL training and education, as well as creating a team environment that values peer support and mentorship will ultimately have the most successful teams of MSLs.

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