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Essential requirements

We have recently updated our requirements. Please read carefully to learn what we're looking for in international staff before you submit an application.

MSF staff speaking with armed men at a check point

YEMEN 2015 © Guillaume Binet/MYOP

The skills you have are the skills we need

To work internationally with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), every applicant must meet the following essential requirements:

  • Availability for a minimum of 9 to 12 months (minimum 8-12 weeks for surgeons, anesthesiologists and OB/GYNs)
    Because of the degree of responsibility MSF international staff are expected to assume, the time needed to acclimatize to a program and context, and the need for continuity among international staff staff for the benefit of both our locally hired staff and patients. Candidates committing to a long-term career in humanitarian aid will be prioritized.
  • Previous experience working in a low resource setting (priority given to those with experience working in a humanitarian context)
    Since MSF works mostly in lower-income countries and unstable contexts, prior work experience in a low resource setting (not necessarily international) is required for all applicants. Prioritization is given to those who have experience working in a humanitarian context and this is a requirement for certain profiles. Please see individual role requirements for more detail.
  • At least 2 years of relevant professional experience
    All roles (including physicians) are required to have at least two years of relevant professional experience post-training or residency. Nurses are required to have three years professional experience post training.
  • Experience as a supervisor, manager, teacher, and/or trainer
    The majority of MSF international staff will be in a supervisory or management role and will often spend more of their time overseeing and training others than doing hands-on work themselves. Prior experience supervising, managing, teaching, and/or training others is required for all applicants.
  • Ability to work and live with a diverse team
    An MSF team is made up of medical and non-medical professionals from an array of nationalities and cultural backgrounds. While the rewards are rich, it can be a challenge to work, live, and communicate with individuals whose language or customs are different from your own. Your ability and willingness to engage with this diversity is essential.
  • Flexibility and adaptability
    To reflect changing needs in international programs, activities can shift quickly and job descriptions change accordingly. Working environments, security protocols, and team size/composition may also change during assignments. Your ability to be flexible and adaptable—both personally and professionally—is critical to your success on an MSF assignment.
  • Computer skills
    All MSF international staff write and submit reports, and many are involved in data collection. Basic computer skills and comfortability using Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) are required. While not required, prior experience using any database software is an asset.
  • Commitment to MSF's principles
    MSF operates independently of any political, military, or religious agenda, observes neutrality, and provides impartial care delivered on the basis of need alone. These principles of action are described in MSF’s founding charter, and should resonate with anyone thinking of applying to MSF. MSF-USA is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE) and actively strives for diverse team members. Qualified applicants are considered for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or veteran status. Learn more about our behavioral commitments, and about our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Commitment to practicing equity, inclusion, and respect of diversity as core principles inextricably linked to our success so that we may work according to MSF’s guiding principles and serve our patients. 


The following are not required, but are highly valued. If accepted into our pool of international staff, individuals with these assets will be eligible for more positions and will usually be placed on assignment more quickly:

  • Language skills
    A significant number of MSF's programs are in Francophone (French-speaking) countries, and therefore French language skills are highly desirable as they allow for more opportunities for placement. Fluency is valuable but not essential—a competent level of spoken French is more important. While less urgently needed, skills in other languages, such as Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian are also assets in MSF's international programs.