Staying Motivated as a Medical Science Liaison

Medical science liaisons are naturally motivated, since MSL directors selectively hire self-starters. But motivation can wax and wane with any job. How can you as a medical science liaison stay motivated?

1. Identify what components of the MSL role is the most motivating for you.

Don’t just say “interacting with thought leaders,” because this is too general a statement. What types of interactions are energizing to you? Is it talking about ideas for clinical studies? Is it dissecting clinical data and translating this to patient care? Is it standing up in front of an audience and giving a clinical presentation?

2. Once you’ve identified the motivators, look for ways to consistently build these actions into your work week.

You may even want to schedule the most motivating tasks at strategic points of the week that can feel the most challenging (for example, mid-week or beginning of the week) and use these to set or sustain the tone of motivation for your week. Set up your tasks to increase the opportunities for you to be reminded of “this is why I became a medical science liaison” at least once a week.

3. Track and update your motivators.

As you grow in this role, you may discover new motivators. Maybe you started the role enjoying dialog with thought leaders but grew to become passionate about mentoring MSL colleagues in your areas of strength and expertise. Update your list on a semi-annual or annual basis.

Even when you start out as a highly motivated MSL, motivation isn’t a quality you want to take for granted, especially when the job is isolating (from one’s team or coworkers), when the job is stressful (with extensive travel or time away from home), and when the value from the job requires a lengthy period to become visible (MSL metrics, anyone?).
Jane Chin, Ph.D.