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Working in the field

    Do you think you have what it takes to work overseas for MSF? We are always looking for qualified medical and non-medical staff who are willing to put their skills at the service of those most in need. You will find about 30 profiles on this page for which we accept spontaneous applications. If you are recruited - after a competencies based selection process - you are placed in what we call a 'pool' or a database of available aid workers. As soon as a project has a suitable position for you, we send you on mission. This means you have to be willing to leave according to humanitarian needs, to any country. In return, we guarantee a dynamic and stimulating work environment alongside multicultural colleagues and personal career development throughout several missions. 

    You can find the list of profiles further below on this page. Please familiarize yourself with our recruitment procedure and our general criteria before applying.

    Profiles that urgently need filling

    Our human resources needs are constantly changing and can increase dramatically during an emergency. For this reason, we encourage you to visit this page regularly to keep up to date with the profiles we are actively seeking.

    Seven essential questions to ask yourself before applying !

    What is my motivation ?

    Heading off on mission with Médecins Sans Frontières is no trivial matter. In addition to using your professional skills, you will need to demonstrate commitment to the populations at risk and respect the values described in the MSF Charter.

    The values laid out in the  Charter – neutrality, impartiality, non-discrimination, personal commitment, medical ethics and respect for human dignity – are lived and practiced daily, through decisions made by the organisation as a whole and by each of its members individually. We expect MSF staff to understand these values and make them their own.

    Before taking the first steps to work with MSF abroad, you should understand the reasons behind your decision. Are you idealising our work, or making an informed decision? Do your motivations and values go hand in hand with MSF’s mission?

    It is also important that you understand the day-to-day realities facing MSF employees who often live and work in unfamiliar surroundings, under difficult and stressful conditions. If you want to leave for an MSF mission, we recommend that you read through the sections below. This will help you gain a better understanding of the implications of making this commitment.

    What will I be faced with ?

    When applying to MSF, you need to be aware that we work to improve access to healthcare for vulnerable populations in countries where the following factors can be in play:

    • Flagrant abuses of human rights.
       
    • Women, men and children, depending on their ethnic, social or tribal origins, may not be able to enjoy rights that are generally accepted and recognised in western societies.
       
    • Homosexuality may be punished by the law.
       
    • Rape may be used as a weapon of war.
       
    • Infectious diseases and epidemics are common.
    What about security ?

    For MSF, the safety and security of staff is a priority. You may be asked to live and work in unstable countries where your life could be in danger. For all of our projects, handbooks have been created to limit risks as far as possible.

    Working with MSF in the field means representing MSF day and night, every day of the week, even during your free time and on holiday. Everyone is responsible for their own safety and the safety of their team. 

    Following MSF’s security rules may limit your movements and interactions with the local population outside of working hours. However, it is essential that you understand that your actions, as a member of MSF’s staff, can have an impact not only on the people you are interacting with but also on the MSF project and, as a result, can directly impact upon beneficiaries. As such, it is vital that you follow the rules laid down by MSF. When your working day is over, you may have to observe a curfew and may have to remain within the MSF compound.

    What are the living conditions like ?

    When working abroad with MSF, you will have to adapt to many changes, including food, accommodation, daily routine, recreation and language. A new lifestyle is awaiting you, where free time and privacy can be in short supply. You may have to share your bedroom and bathroom. You need to be sure that you can do without normal creature comforts before applying to MSF.

    MSF projects can take place in locations where the weather conditions are not always mild (extreme heat or cold, high humidity, heavy rainfall or desert climate). You will also be a long way from your friends and family for several months at a time. Communication can be difficult.

    Working in the field requires you to be in good health and have a healthy lifestyle which ensures that you remain so. This is in fact the best way to avoid diseases and to be able to carry out all the tasks required of you. As such, appropriate vaccinations are also essential, as are certain preventive measures (against malaria, for example).

    Can I handle stress ?

    Working in the field with MSF can create a stressful environment. Many factors can contribute to this: completely changing environment, basic living conditions, local food, distance from friends and family, potential health issues, strained relationships between fellow team members, feeling unsafe, frequent project changes and relationships with the local authorities that can be difficult, etc.

    Have you asked yourself the following questions ?

    • How do you handle stress in your daily life?
       
    • Being part of a field team means you need to be ready to offer solutions at any time. Have you previously lived and worked in a group of 3 to 10 people for extended periods?
       
    • Are you a good communicator and leader?
       
    • Can you put aside your personal problems so that you can carry out the work you are asked to do?
       
    • What do you find stressful and how can you handle this within a team?
    What will be the impact on my family and private life?

    Working abroad means leaving your loved ones for a certain period of time, usually between 6 and 12 months. What impact will being away for up to a year have on your private life?

    Also consider the impact a difficult working environment will have on your morale. Being assigned to a mission abroad is of course exciting, but the return home can be trying for both you and your family: working in the field leaves its marks.

    Am I open to working with different cultures?

    There are cultural differences and while they can be enriching, they can also lead to misunderstandings. Punctuality at work, relationships with superiors and between men and women can vary between countries.

    Being tolerant of people who think and act differently than you is essential. Tolerance and mutual respect are key values within Médecins Sans Frontières.

    In conclusion

    The issues we have mentioned above are intended to give you an awareness of what working abroad entails. Thousands of people who have worked with MSF over the years have found their experience in the field demanding, but enriching. For many of them, leaving for a mission proved to be a turning point in their life.

    Working for MSF is a commitment, rather than just an adventure or a job opportunity. 

    General Criteria

    Embracing the values of the MSF Charter

    MSF bases its humanitarian actions on the principles and values included in its Charter. These values and ideals – neutrality, impartiality, non-discrimination, personal commitment, medical ethics and respect for human dignity – are lived and practiced daily, through decisions made by the organisation as a whole and by each of its members individually.

    Behaving responsibly

    Going on a mission for Médecins Sans Frontières requires preparation and thought. In addition to offering your professional skills, you must show dedication to populations under threat, respect the values and principles outlined in the MSF Charter, and behave responsibly.

    These values and principles are put into practice every day, through decisions made by the organisation as a whole and by each individual member. We expect MSF staff to understand our values and embody them.

    Commitment for two years

    We are looking for people that want to commit to multiple missions. Hiring and training an employee is a major investment for MSF and we want to hire expats who want to grow within the organisation.

    With at least two years of professional experience

    Previous experience helps to ensure that skills are of a sufficient level and ensure credibility with local contacts. Internships are not recognised as professional experience.

    Being willing to work in unstable political contexts and conflict areas

    During conflicts and other violent situations, MSF teams offer healthcare services to the entire population, provide care to refugees and people who have become displaced within their own country.

    Being willing to leave without your family/partner

    Given the nature of our mission and the contexts we operate in, we ask that our staff leave for missions without their partner and/or family.

    Having good English and French language skills

    Applicants recruited by the Brussels headquarters must have good French and English language skills. These two languages are the most used on missions. Knowledge of Arabic (as well as Spanish or Portuguese) would be a major asset.

    Being in good health

    In order to leave with MSF, you must be in good health and have received the standard vaccinations (as a minimum: measles, yellow fever, DTP and polio). Depending on which country you are sent to, you may also need to receive additional vaccinations and take preventive measures to avoid certain diseases.

    What profiles are we looking for?

    MSF as an employer

    MSF is an association consisting of ‘volunteers’. For MSF, volunteering is an individual commitment and personal responsibility. However, our colleagues work on a paid basis.

    We are looking for colleagues who are morally committed to humanitarian action and accept the risks of the mission. They also demonstrate flexibility in their work and accept to be sent abroad according to humanitarian needs. Finally, they respect the MSF Charter and behave responsibly during their missions.
     
    The management of MSF’s human resources is based on the concepts of volunteering, equity, transparency and recognition of the value of each individual.

    MSF salaries reflect the humanitarian spirit of volunteerism, while recognizing the high levels of professional skill of our field staff. Increases are based on expertise and experience. For example, after one year of engagement for MSF the salary increases. MSF offers the opportunity to attend trainings and workshops, organised internally or externally, relating to specific career development or individual growth.

    Learn more about our behavioural commitments and our mechanisms and procedures to fight abuse, exploitation and harassment in the work environment


    What we offer

    • A fixed-term contract
    • Monthly pay
    • Medical coverage
    • Payment of all mission-related expenses (transport, accommodation)
    • A daily allowance (per diem) during the mission
    • The opportunity to work and quickly take on responsibilities in humanitarian situations and varied medical programmes
    • Personalised career development, with access to different levels of training, in order to grow within the organisation

    Information sessions

    Making a difference is a profession. Getting involved with MSF.

    Don’t forget to read the job pages, more specifically the general criteria and the profiles sought before attending.

    If you would like more information about working in the field with MSF, we strongly recommend that you attend one of our information sessions before applying.

    These sessions are based on accounts from an expatriate who has recently returned from a mission. You will be given more information about MSF as a humanitarian organisation, about the various projects, working conditions, life and safety in the field and of course, the recruitment procedures.

    You will also have the opportunity to ask questions to our recruiters.


    Agenda

    • 26/09/2019 - Field mission information session from 6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. in our office at 68, rue de Gasperich L-1617 Luxembourg. To participate, please fill out the form you will find here

    Applying to MSF

    Would you like to head off on a Médecins Sans Frontières mission? Here are some of the steps in the recruitment procedures.

    STEP 1: Gathering information

    Before sending off your online application, carefully read the page on ’working in the field’ and in particular the sections general criteria and profiles sought

    If you would like more information, you can attend one of our information sessions. 

    You can also contact the MSF Luxembourg HR department by email via catherine.jager@luxembourg.msf.org

    STEP 2: Applying online

    Fill in our application form here.

    Only applications accompanied by a cover letter and CV in French or English, plus a copy of your degree will be considered.

    Apply here if you are a surgeon, orthopaedic surgeon, gynaecologist or anaesthetist!

    The protection of your personal data is import to MSF. By submitting your application, you consent to MSF using your personal data. For more information, consult our privacy notice to job applicants.
     

    STEP 3: First contact

    We will examine all applications and do our utmost to give a response within one month.

    If you meet all of our recruitment criteria, we will contact you for an initial telephone conversation about your application. This discussion will be used as the basis for whether or not you are invited to proceed to the next step.

    STEP 4: Interview

    The interview will take place in our offices in Brussels, by telephone or by Skype.

    We may also ask you to carry out an individual field practice drill.

    STEP 5: Training for a first mission

    If you are recruited, you will follow training for a first mission which will last one or two weeks, depending on your profile. 

    This training takes place in Brussels or in one of our partner sections and is fully paid for by MSF.

    STEP 6: Leaving for the field

    When you are recruited, you will be added to a reserve pool for your profile. When a position matching your profile and skills is available, you will receive all of the information and briefings before leaving for the field.