Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist (BCMAS): A Review by Paul Korner, MD

The Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist Program or ‘BCMAS’ program has become increasingly
popular among medical affairs and MSL professionals in pharma. Many pharma industry executives say
this is the future of our industry. Approximately 70% of BCMAS graduates currently work in the
pharmaceutical industry. Their primary career goals are to broaden their skillset, advance their
careers and continually develop themselves professionally. Most cite that beyond the ‘new hire’ or
onboarding training they get when they first start their roles, their companies offer no continuous
professional development.

Who is the ACMA?

The ACMA is a joint provider of CME through a partnership with Scientia CME which is accredited by
the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education & the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy
Education. Offering CME/CE for BCMAS ensures that the content is of the highest quality and

The ACMA is also an organizational member of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). ICE
recognizes organizations that offer validated certifications for a variety of professions.

The ACMA is also currently pending accreditation by the International Association of Continuing
Education & Training (IACET) which has several requirements including a close examination of the
(a) content (b) learning systems (c) company structure (d) learning design and curriculum among
many other aspects. The process is quite intensive and takes several months to complete, including
an audit or site visit to the ACMA.

The ACMA is comprised of a board of governors and also includes a scientific advisory board. These
folks are a well-rounded group of physicians, pharmacists, pharma industry and public policy

Is BCMAS Recognized around the world?

BCMAS is offered all over the world and is currently in 30 countries. They also have country and
region specific BCMAS training programs which are tailored to reflect the regulatory and compliance
landscape for that region of the world. Additionally, the ACMA has partnerships with several
global organizations including Interfarma, a globally recognized compliance organization for Latin
America, based in Brazil. They are also partner with the Council for Continuing Pharmaceutical
Education in Canada and the Indian Pharmaceutical Association to name a few. They have also worked
with Santa Casa, Medical School in Brazil, Rutgers Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and NYU
School of Medicine among others.

What does the BCMAS curriculum cover?

Upon reviewing the curriculum, I found it to be quite comprehensive. It covers 5 key areas:

I. Life Sciences Understanding-The curriculum covers traditional pharma, medical devices, and
diagnostics as well as newer areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology.

II. Regulatory & Compliance-A key focus on ethical and compliance issues relevant to any medical affairs professional issues relevant to any medical affairs professional.

III. Core Technical Competencies-The program ensures a comprehensive understanding of
Pharmacoeconomics, clinical trial design, evidence-based medicine, drug development, REMS, and

IV. Process-The curriculum covers important functional areas within medical affairs such as
compliant publication practices, advisory board, CME, investigator sponsored research and
post-marketing studies.

V. Soft Skills-The program covers basic presentation and communication skills essential for any
effective medical affairs professional.

Will BCMAS become a standard in pharma?

The BCMAS program has been featured on many well-known main stream media outlets and is well
recognized by several pharmaceutical companies. Recent media coverage by Forbes, the
Pharmaceutical Executive, Relentless Health Value, ABC News RadioPharmaVoice and the Pharmacy Podcast Network all give credence to the increasing movement towards standardization and
professionalizing of the medical affairs profession.

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