Medical Affairs Career? You’re Certifiable!

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Being board certified in any healthcare related career has proven to be impactful. It is a credential that resonates because of its association with board certified physicians. That positive relationship can now be yours in your pharmaceutical medical affairs career. The Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist or BCMAS is a credential that goes right up there next to your name after MD, DO, PhD or PharmD. It can help you break into a medical affairs role in big pharma or even accelerate your career advancement.

This credential is conferred by the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs. You need a terminal degree (foreign medical graduates are eligible) to enroll in the online course and it is typically 6-8 weeks of study for a few hours a day followed by an exam. The cost for all related fees is $1,999. Steep, yes, but some employers may help cover the expense or you can view it as a career investment. The coursework reviews a broad range of medical affairs related topics to round out your knowledge.

Topics Covered

  1. Pharmaceutical Industry Overview*
  2. Medical Devices Industry Overview
  3. Diagnostics Overview
  4. Rules governing Interactions with Health Care Providers (HCPs)*
  5. Health Economics Outcomes Research (HEOR)
  6. Evidence Based Medicine (EBM)
  7. Clinical Trial Designs
  8. Presentation/Communication Skills
  9. Regulatory Affairs*
  10. Overview of Compliance*
  11. Abstract/Medical Writing
  12. Publication Practices
  13. Drug Development & Life Cycle Management*
  14. Overview of Medical Information
  15. Medical Science Liaisons & Field Based Medical Teams*
  16. Grant & Investigator Initiated Study (IIS) Funding & Process
  17. Advisory Boards
  18. Phase IV/post-marketing studies overview
  19. REMS
  20. Pharmacovigilance


*If you do not have a terminal degree (i.e. PhD, etc.), but are still interested in being more informed and getting an edge on career advancement in Medical Affairs, the ACMA also offers a competency certificate (MACC) that includes the six topics starred * above. This certificate offers increased industry knowledge and adds a nice certification to your resume.

For those targeting a career as a Medical Science Liaison, the field force of the Medical Affairs department, the MSL Society is launching a professional certification program this fall, to confer the MSL-BC credential. The MSL-BC handbook provides more details on this certification. The MSL Society already offers an MSL Candidate Presentation and Communication Skills Certificate that is an in-person three day program for $1995.

In today’s competitive career market, board certifications and course certificates matter. They demonstrate your knowledge and commitment to your profession in medical affairs at pharma, biotech, CROs and medical device companies. With either of these options, the BCMAS or MSL-BC, you achieve a merit based edge on both breaking into this career and advancing. Investing your time and resources into these credentials is worth it.

Interested in discussing a medical affairs career? Contact Smith Hanley Associates’ Executive Recruiter, Nihar Parikh at nparikh@smithhanley.com.


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