Interview with Dr. Maria Aguiluz-Abunto

On this week’s episode of the PNC podcast, Dr. Maria Abunto explains why we should celebrate the first International Medical Science Liaison Day on March 27.

Maria is an MSL herself and an MD with experience directing operations for a busy medical practice. After completing her master’s in public health in 2016, she joined the National Institutes of Health. Then, she leveraged her MPH and NIH experiences to land her first job as a device company Global MSL.

Our Sponsor

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International MSL Day

This newly recognized day is dedicated to all MSLs and MSL Managers. You can join the celebration by going to the MSL Society web site and sharing the MSL Banner on your social media page. Then post a photo to show off your pride in your career, and tell the story of how you became an MSL.

Medical Science Liaison

There are some misconceptions about what it means to be an MSL. So, Maria explains that it is a specialized role within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology field. And they generally have advanced degrees and clinical experience.

MSLs concentrate on a specific therapeutic area or disease state. With study and experience, they become experts who can communicate information to a wide audience. A central responsibility is being able to communicate effectively with key opinion leaders and influencers. Certain positions require a medical degree.

When key opinion leaders or healthcare providers learn that I'm a physician, it creates a space for real discussion built on mutual respect.

Experienced MSLs can advance to the medical director position, which is a role only a physician can fill. This is one of the important roles celebrated on International MSL Day.

Getting Started

On the episode, Maria offers her step-by-step advice for anyone interested in a career as a Medical Science Liaison:

  • Join the Medical Science Liaison Society and start building your network.
  • Read and re-read Samuel Dyer's book on how to break into the MSL role.
  • Attend an MSL conference to meet other professionals and learn from them. There are webinars and online training sessions available, but attend a live one if you can.
  • Find mentors in the field who can guide you and connect you to career opportunities. Try not to begin by asking for something – instead, establish a collaborative relationship first.
  • Persistence is key. Therefor, stay positive and consistent as you network, learn, and pursue MSL opportunities.


During our discussion, Maria also offers insight from the recent MSL Salary Survey. And she explains that this career offers opportunities for advancement and salary increases as an MSL gains experience and increasing responsibilities.


Lastly, Maria says she wishes she had known about the role sooner so she could have started this journey in her career earlier in life. And she wishes everyone a Happy International MSL Day!

Thanks for listening, and I hope that you will share in this celebration.

Links for Today's Episode

The Nonclinical Career Academy Membership Program is Now Live!

I've created 13 courses and placed them all in an exclusive, low cost membership program. The program provides an introduction to dozens of nontraditional careers, with in-depth lessons on several of them. It even includes my full MSL Course that normally sells for $397.00. And I'll add more content devoted to one of these topics each and every month:

  • Nontraditional Careers: Locum tenens, Telemedicine, Cash-only Practice
  • Hospital and Health System Jobs
  • Pharma Careers
  • Home-based jobs
  • Preparing for an interview, and writing a resume
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Thanks to our sponsor…

Thanks to the UT Physician Executive MBA program for sponsoring the show. It’s an outstanding, highly rated, MBA program designed for working physicians. It is just what you need to prepare for that fulfilling, well-paying career. You can find out more at

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Podcast Editing & Production Services are provided by Oscar Hamilton


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The opinions expressed here are mine and my guest’s. While the information provided on the podcast is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, there is no express or implied guarantee that using the methods discussed here will lead to success in your career, life or business.

The information presented on this blog and related podcast is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. It should not be construed as medical, legal, tax, or emotional advice. If you take action on the information provided on the blog or podcast, it is at your own risk. Always consult an attorney, accountant, career counsellor, or other professional before making any major decisions about your career.