Book review: All MSLs started with no experience!

Book Review.

All MSLs started with no experience!

(The guide to becoming a Medical Science Liaison).

Jane Chin, Ph.D.

2009, Medical Science Liaison Institute (Publisher)


by Xavier Tello, MD

Pharmaceutical business is full of advantages for all kinds of stakeholders; however, it’s also a very competitive arena in which only the most capable enterprises would get the attention and preference of the first customer: the Physician.

Regardless of the business expertise and the communications (and advertising) background a Pharmaceutical Company could have, there will always be some distance between the scientists and the business people. Furthermore when these scientists need to approach Pharma, seeking for help to develop some research, or the health enterprises need the skills and influence of some researcher, the communication could not be easy.

A bridge is needed. So this help comes in the form of a science professional, who becomes an interpreter for the company, in order to deal scientifically and professionally with the people in white robe: The Medical Science Liaison (MSL).

These professionals belong to a rather “obscure” part of the health-business chain in which very important links and relations are built between science and sales, or medicine and marketing.

Having a science background, the MSL should be capable of working very close to “Key Opinion Leaders” (KOLs), academic professors, medical researchers and experts; and coordinate their work following or adjusting it to a Pharma company’s agenda.

Jane Chin knows that, first hand. With a Ph.D. in Biochemistry (Oncology) she started her career in Pharma in Bristol-Myers Squibb, following with Takeda and (the former) Aventis. Based in California, she is the President and Founder of the Medical Science Liaison Institute and the author of: All MSLs started with no experience! (The guide to becoming a Medical Science Liaison).

In the 136 pages of this book, Dr. Chin offers a practical and punctual approach to potential candidates or MSL rookies, on how to overcome the difficulties of assuming a new career pathway; thus, understanding firstly that there’s no “official” or university degree in MSL.

In a very familial style, but with an authority and confidence reflected on each page, Dr. Chin drives us through very practical problems in becoming one of these selected few.

mslbooksmThe book starts with a clear explanation in what is and what is not a MSL, and which are and which are not his or her duties and obligations. As obvious as this may sound, this is a point that most Pharmaceutical Companies fail to properly communicate to their new MSLs.

I lived personally that confusing experience when I was hired as Delegate to the Janssen Research Council, back in the early 90s. My expectations as a Physician becoming a Pharma employee were somewhat different to those of the real job (despite that, at the end of the day, being an MSL was one of the most rewarding professional experiences of my career).

With an easy reading approach, the book talks about the personality and character a MSL must have, in order to work with peers and sales forces while being a reliable communication channel with KOLs.

Important hints in how to apply to a MSL position, how to build a reliable résumé and how to deal with recruiters are also touched.

Dr. Chin questions (challenges) the reader on different situations that could become potential life-challengers when working as an MSL; like frequent traveling or the day-to-day dilemma of: representing the Company but not selling… while defending the Company’s selling potential (and sometimes creating it).

“Pharmaceutical companies’ field-sales teams have sales goals. They must attain as an outcome of commercial strategy. Field-science teams, including MSLs probably do not have sales goals, but the MSL role has therapeutic area-related goals, and attainment of these goals will help companies stay commercially competitive in the long term in that disease state”.

But perhaps, the core expression of the book’s title is reflected in the chapter named: “Overcoming ‘Catch-22’”, in which Dr. Chin explains the potential MSL candidate, that it is OK to have no previous experience.

With the proper background (that not always requires a Ph.D.) and the adequate elements of self-selling, the interested one could confidently pursue the position. The book includes even a checklist which certainly becomes handy, when dealing with recruiters or having to deliver a skills-appraisal presentation.

All MSLs started with no experience! (The guide to becoming a Medical Science Liaison), is a very interesting as well as practical and informative book, which certainly will help everybody keen in becoming part of a discipline and professional position, that is becoming more important, as new points of view are emerging regarding the Pharma business; and new and tougher compliance rules are being applied.

This is a nicely written book, for the 21st century.

For more information on this book, you can visit The Medical Science Liaison site, clicking HERE

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5 Responses to Book review: All MSLs started with no experience!

  1. MSL Reader says:

    it’s more like a pamphlet than a book, and at a price of nearly $110, you don’t get what you paid for. there’s nothing in the book that you can’t find for free just by doing a google search. i did not find the book useful and i certainly wouldn’t have paid more than $15 for it.

  2. Amy says:

    Dear MSL Reader, I would like to contact you to ask you some questions about your review.
    I was just sitting here trying to decide if i should buy this or not….

  3. Jane says:

    MSL Reader: My website clearly details exactly WHAT you would get in terms of content, not to mention the long email I had sent you in response to your question of what you would be buying. Perhaps you failed to see the value in the content, but there are many who purchased the book and cited it to have made the difference in their getting a job as a MSL. So I know it works; those testimonials are real, and you are welcome to go to my LinkedIn profile to read what others have said about how the book helped them. You waited until the very last day of my 60-day return policy to then ask me for a refund – if you didn’t find the book useful you could have returned it within the week! I even absorbed the full cost of shipping the book to you. I am disappointed with your choice to do this under anonymous guise, rather than disclosing your identity (I do know who you are) when writing this negative review. I wish you the best in your career path.

  4. Jane says:


    You can also contact me about the review, and I will be happy to give you the fair and balanced view, including who will NOT benefit from my book. I have no interest trying to sell something to someone who does not wish to buy.

    Seeing even one poor customer experience does not give me satisfaction, but seeing a review that provides no context and potentially misleading is especially disheartening because I wrote this book for those who desires to a profession whose existence rests primarily on integrity and their ethical reputation.


  5. Muneer Malkawi says:

    Dear All above,

    I explored many websites and networks who are saying good things about the book and how much it is rewarding even it is more than 100$, but i feel that -even the anonymous reader will not like it- that nothing value reading the book-, and frankly I am willing to buy, but it is still costly to me, but I will save the price as will as the shipping costs for abroad (Jordan – Middle East). I appreciate the author open mind and self confidence to contain such bad review, and reply in person.

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