MSL Career & Identity

Dear Colleague:

Comparing yourself with others is a sure way to create unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
Whether you are comparing rank (MSL v. Sr. MSL), salary, benefits, geography, career advancement opportunities, managers, coworkers — there is always something to be dissatisfied about, or see others as “having better” than you.

I am not calling you to “compare down” so you feel better, but to look at what is working well for you in your overall work-life, and what feels “off-center” that needs your attention.

If you feel stagnant at work, what created meaning for you when you first joined the team or company? Do you need to create new meaning at this stage of your career, or have you let busy-ness obscure what once made this job meaningful?

If you feel overwhelmed at work, what is your fear in saying “No”? Are there other ways to differentiate your value and stand out besides piling on project after project?

Is the end of the tunnel of your MSL career really in management, when many MSLs cite science as most stimulating part of their jobs? There are people who make excellent MSLs but mediocre managers, and people who make mediocre MSLs but excellent managers. Know where you stand and be truthful about your strengths, versus what others may think of your career decisions.

Some of us identify with our roles as professionals. Some of us identify with our personal relationships. Some of us don’t like to limit ourselves to “one identity” because we are more than “one description” whether that is a job description or a role description. Be the best MSL as “You” and all that you bring to this profession.

Be willing to be “more” than your MSL professional identity: pay equal attention to your role as a member of your community and family, and take as much time developing yourself as a person as you do with KOLs. Not only is this healthier, in the long run this keeps you working effectively as a medical science liaison.

Until next time,
Jane Chin, Ph.D.
Founder, Medical Science Liaison Institute

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