Accredited Medical Affairs/MSL Professional Development in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Trends & Future Outlook

Donna White, CCEP

Donna White, CCEP

As Medical Affairs continues to grow within the pharmaceutical industry, providing proper training and continued professional development is critical. Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies either:

  1. Develop their own internal training or 
  2. Work with third-party vendors to build training programs for them.

While this can help onboard new hires, there are several limitations to this traditional approach.

Limitations to the traditional pharmaceutical industry Medical Affairs training process

  1. It is a ‘one & done,’ focusing primarily on proper on boarding for new hires.  There is no plan put in place to assess continued professional development.
  2. Vendors are NOT accredited training providers. What that means is that they do not meet any type of standards when it comes to learning design, process, technology or proper assessments.
  3. Non-accredited training does not lead to a qualification or any credits awarded.
  4. Traditional training is not externally recognized outside the company which limits employee motivation and development.
  5. Traditional training is not externally recognized outside the company which limits employee motivation and development.
  6. Traditional training typically requires a minimum level of knowledge is met does little to assess assess progress over time.
  7. Because non-accredited training doesn’t have to meet any type of external measures of quality or assessment, it poses a risk to pharmaceutical companies if they are audited.
  8. Finally, today’s training often lacks consistency across US & Global Medical Affairs organizations creating gaps and putting certain teams at a disadvantage.

Accreditation Matters

The Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA) is the only accredited provider of professional development & certification for Medical Affairs & sales professionals working across the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device and diagnostic industries.  Accreditation indicates that you have met and/or surpassed industry standards for training & certification

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The ACMA is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education & Training (IACET/ANSI). The ACMA is also a member organization with the Institute for Credentialing Excellence and, through its partnership with Scientia CME, is a joint provider of Continuing Medical Education (CME) & Continuing Education (CE) for physicians, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals. This level of accreditation indicates that the ACMA offers the highest quality of training and certification. The robust quality management system, innovative learning design, optimized pedagogical techniques and proper learner support are key elements to ACMA’s success.

Regulators & Accreditation

Using an accredited provider of training for your pharmaceutical company helps to safeguard and minimize risk for your organization. This becomes particularly important when concerns arise over:

  1. The competence of your team members
  2. Issues related to Ethics
  3. Concerns over quality systems and operations
  4. Issues with Compliance

Industry Trends

The ACMA continues to partner with companies who are raising the bar for their organization by offering accredited training & certification programs. There are several benefits afforded to both the company and employees. By partnering with the ACMA, pharmaceutical companies can ensure that all individuals who successfully meet ACMA standards will receive a certificate of competence, which is accredited and recognized in the US & internationally.

Moreover, several studies have shown that certification:

  1. Improves employee motivation and performance
  2. Increases team morale
  3. Ensures that a minimum level of competency is set across the organization.

This helps establish consistency, provides peace of mind and improves the chances for more effective & compliant engagement with key opinion leaders (KOLs). As a matter of fact, the ACMA surveyed over 1000 KOLs.  Over 87% of those KOLs indicated that partnering with pharmaceutical industry professionals with an accredited certification would help them feel an increased sense of trust and credibility.

As we reflect on the opioid crisis and other issues that have plagued the pharmaceutical industry in recent years, it is critical that Compliance, Medical and Commercial work together to raise the bar for their organizations. Doing so is not only the right thing to do for their company, but more importantly, we owe it to the patients and healthcare organizations we serve.