To work in the field with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), every applicant must meet the following general requirements:
- At least two years of relevant professional experience
For physicians (excluding surgeons, ob-gyns, and anesthesia providers), completion of residency satisfies this requirement. Nurses are required to have three years professional experience.
- Availability for a minimum of nine to 12 months
With the exception of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, and ob-gyns who may be accepted for shorter assignments of six to eight weeks.
Because of the degree of responsibility MSF aid workers are expected to assume, the time needed to acclimatize to a project and context, and the need for continuity among field staff for the benefit of both our locally hired staff and patients, MSF requires a nine to 12 month time commitment for most profiles. Due to the nature of their workload while in the field, a shorter time commitment is required of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, and ob-gyns.
- Relevant travel
Since MSF works mostly in developing countries, experience working, volunteering, living, and/or traveling abroad is preferred. We are most interested in instances where you have worked or travelled outside your comfort zone.
- Experience as a supervisor, manager, teacher, and/or trainer
Every MSF aid worker will be in a supervisory or management position in the field 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 of any applicant to MSF.
- Ability to work and live with a diverse group of professionals
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 the field, 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 mission.
- Computer skills
All MSF aid workers write and submit reports, and many are involved in data collection. To apply to MSF you must have basic computer skills and must be comfortable using Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint). 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.
The following are not required, but are highly valued. If accepted into our pool of aid workers, individuals with these assets will be eligible for more positions and will usually be placed more quickly:
- Language skills (mainly French)
A significant number of MSF's missions 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 the field.