Frequently asked questions
- What are the different steps of the recruitment process?
It is best to allow for as much time as possible before you can go to the field, remembering that the process includes interviews, recruitment checks, and a pre-departure course. It can sometimes take six months or longer to get from application to the field.
- Research if you match our field profiles. Research your profile and if possible attend a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) information session.
- Prepare your application and apply online. The applicant completes an online application form, including a current CV and a skills self-assessment form. For some profiles, proof of diplomas and references will be required.
- Your application is then reviewed by a recruitment officer, some profiles are technically assessed for additional validation. Selected profiles would also undergo additional technical skills assessment and validation, those applicants will be asked to fill in additional forms. The application review can take approximately four weeks after receiving the application.
- Positively screened applicants are invited to an interview with a recruitment officer. The interview takes place online so please ensure you have a good Wi-Fi connection, video chat/camera and privacy to allow you to focus on your interview. (In certain situations, there might be face to face interviews or assessments required but due to COVID-19 the current face to face assessments are temporarily on hold until further notice).
- Following a successful interview and reference checks, candidates are invited to a (on average three days) non-technical induction course called “Welcome to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)". This course is part of the recruitment process. Some candidates may still be rejected or additional assessment maybe is required.
- Following successful completion of the “Welcome to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)" course, candidates are accepted into the pool of active field staff.
- Placement on a field assignment is entirely dependent on field needs and can take several months from the point of acceptance into the active pool.
- Once you are matched to a field mission based on your profile, availability and medical condition for the chosen place; visa, flights tickets, briefings and other practicalities required will be organised to get you ready to join your field team.
- Is there an age limit?
No, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) does not discriminate on the grounds of age. However, field workers need to have the physical and mental fitness to cope with the demanding conditions encountered on a field assignment.
Please note: in some countries where Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is working, there may be a maximum age limit fixed by the national law, above which certain profiles may not be able to obtain the necessary work permits.
- If I am not a medical professional, can I still work with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the field?
Yes, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also recruits field workers who are non-medical professionals such as engineers, constructor/builders and architects, electricians, mechanics, supply chain specialists, water and sanitation (WatSan) specialists, accountants and finance experts, HR & L&D professionals, communication and advocacy professionals.
- What are Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)'s recruitment criteria?
The essential criteria for working in the field are at least two years of professional experience in your field, current professional credentials, relevant work experience in a low resource or humanitarian setting, and availability for at least nine to twelve months in your first mission (with the exception of surgeons, anaesthetists, operating theatre nurses & obstetrician-gynaecologists, who may be accepted for shorter assignments of 6-8 weeks). The duration of second and subsequent missions may vary from three to six months.
Assets that benefit applicants are flexibility, community service projects, adaptability to basic living conditions, and foreign language skills.
More information is available on the essential criteria page.
- Can couples apply to work together on the same project?
We're usually unable to place couples together on their first assignments, as individuals are matched to specific vacancies across the world, based on their skills.
It can also be difficult to place a couple in the same place at the same time even when they have experience with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), as different vacancies become available at different times.
- MSF requires a minimum of two years of professional experience. For specialists, does this mean two years since they qualified, for example, as a doctor, or two years since they qualified in their particular specialty?
The 2-year minimum experience relates to the field position they would fill. Normally those qualified as specialists seek to work with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the area of their speciality, in which case the requirement is for two years' experience in that speciality.
However, occasionally, a specialist is willing to fill a more general position. For example, a Neurosurgeon might be willing to work as a General Surgeon on a field mission, or a Paediatrician might fill a Medical Doctor (MD) position. In such cases, the two years would relate to their more basic qualification. But the requirement is for recent experience. Someone who has worked as a specialist for many years may not, for example, have any recent experience as an MD.
More information is available on the essential criteria page.
- How long does the recruitment process take?
The application process on average takes around three to six months or for certain profiles longer as it depends on the (priority) needs of the activities.
- How long does it take to make a decision on an application?
If your application is complete, we aim to have your application screened within three-four business weeks, however, longer waiting time may sometimes be anticipated due to large number of applications or other unavoidable circumstances.
- How long are MSF missions?
For your first mission, we request a minimum 9-12 month commitment, however, there may be an exception for surgical related professionals (i.e. surgeons, anaesthetists, operating theatre nurses & ob-gyns) who may be accepted for shorter missions of 6-8 weeks. For some specialists such as paediatricians, neonatal nurses, ICU medical doctors and ER medical doctors the minimum duration maybe 6 months.
The duration of subsequent missions will vary depending on the positions available. Some project positions can be for a minimum of 6-months, while other positions may still require a 9-12 months commitment. This will depend on the context and needs of the project.
For emergencies (i.e. natural disasters, pandemics) it can vary from 6-8 weeks to 3 months on average, and for this type of project, your ability to depart at short notice is required.
- How do I get placed on assignment?
On average, about 2-3 months before a staff member's availability commences, MSF will start looking for field vacancies that are relevant to your professional experience. Lists of vacant field positions are provided to MSF by the Operational Centres.
Field HR and careers managers will then propose staff for appropriate vacancies. A final decision on placement is taken by the Operational Centre after considering relevant candidates from all MSF sections for each available vacancy.
- Is there any health screening before you go to the field?
You'll be required to complete a medical clearance form prior to going on assignment. All medical information is treated confidentially and won't be shared without your consent.
- Can I chose or request which country I work in?
MSF places field workers on an assignment based on the (urgent) priority vacancies and needs in the field and according to speciality and availability. Field workers do have a final say in accepting or rejecting a mission, but they are expected to be open to a wide variety of locations and activities and this should not be taken lightly.
We do not recruit for a specific job or country. We recruit people who meet our criteria, and then we will try to find you an appropriate position. However, your special skills, languages and questions related to security will be taken into consideration for each placement.
- Can my family or partner accompany or visit me on mission?
In most cases, living conditions in the field (security, housing, etc.) make it impossible for field workers to be accompanied by children or partners who are not participating in the mission. This is particularly true for most initial assignments.
There are certain positions and missions where dependents are allowed or family and friends can visit for holidays, however, this varies depending on the security context and policies of the mission.
- What insurance covers field workers?
MSF has an insurance policy for all field staff to cover health insurance, accident insurance, professional liability, private liability, repatriation, lost luggage/items and flight insurance. In case of an illness or accident for which there is no need for repatriation to the home country, the insurance covers all expenses from the place of work to the most appropriate qualified reference hospital.
All MSF field workers are also covered by International SOS, the private international insurance company that covers medical repatriation worldwide by qualified medical staff.
We encourage MSF staff not to carry expensive items with them to the project as they may be easily damaged.
- Do I get an employment contract or salary?
You will receive a contract according to the compensation and package of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) . The details of your contract will vary depending on your mission duration and level of experience.
As an employee, you will receive a salary, comprehensive insurance coverage, vaccinations and other health-related support, psychosocial support, access to training opportunities, and reimbursement of work-related travel and associated expenses.
- What expenses would I be expected to pay?
Once an assignment is confirmed, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will be responsible for all travel, visas, and vaccinations. All field staff receive per diem while on assignment in the field.
So in general, apart from your personal items, almost all costs are paid or reimbursed by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) .
- What are the salary, benefits and expenses covered by Doctors Without Borders?
The basic salary starts at approximately 1,100-1,300 EURO gross (approximately 5,500 – 6,500 Malaysian Ringgit depending on exchange rate) for the first 12 months and is credited to the individual’s bank account each month. After your 12 month mission, your salary will be recalculated based on relevant work experience.
Apart from the basic salary, field workers receive a per diem allowance in local currency when they are in the field and other benefits such as flight home and additional allowances, depending on mission duration and contract.
Placement of field workers
- What if I am injured or become ill?
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides medical insurance, including coverage for medical evacuation if necessary. In addition, a clinician in each team is responsible for treating minor injuries or illnesses and has the capacity to refer to a higher level of care if required.
- What are the living conditions like? Will I have to share a room? What about Wi-Fi?
Living conditions may vary depending on the project and location. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) strives to provide adequate living conditions in all of our projects, however, these conditions can sometimes be basic.
There are situations where you may have to share a room with other colleagues or shared bathrooms (usually gender-segregated). Food supplies and personal items may also be limited by what is available locally.
In most places, we try to have Wi-Fi access but it can vary depending on the location and is not always guaranteed.
- What are the working hours in an MSF project?
Working hours vary considerably depending on the project with, on average, one day off per week. Work can be challenging and you may be required to work long hours. However, time is set aside for rest and relaxation.
- Can I take holidays or is there possibility to take annual leave or time to rest?
The common practice is that for every three months of work you will enjoy one week of holidays (this may vary depending on your mission and location). Holidays are usually taken outside of the country of the mission. There are some missions where you will be allowed to take your holidays within the country of mission, however, this will depend on the security context and policies in place.
You will be entitled to the pro-rata equivalent of approximately 25 days of annual leave, calculated according to the duration of your contract. In addition to annual leave, you may benefit from local public holidays, or additional leave as rest and recuperation (R&R) according to the specific circumstances of your project.
- What support is available in the field and after you come home from a placement?
In the capital of the country where you will be working, there is a team of experienced field workers who will provide you with support throughout your assignment. You will have access to a technical referent for your specific profession who will be able to give you technical support during your assignment.
At the HQ level, there is a desk/cell which also provides support to the teams. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has extensive protocols, guidelines and reference material available for you.
At the end of your placement Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will provide you with our post-assignment psychosocial support package and post-mission medical checks.
- How does MSF manage safety and security in the field?
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides extensive risk management procedures and security guidelines which are regularly updated for every project.
Field workers are briefed on the country security situation before going to the field, and upon arriving at the project location you will be given specific security briefings and protocols. Adherence to our field guidelines for personal and team conduct and safety is mandatory.
- What are the main diseases you can expect to treat on an MSF assignment?
This will depend on your field of expertise and project. For medical roles, you may be dealing with malaria, parasitic diseases, diarrheal illnesses, fevers of unknown origin and respiratory infections. Some of our programs have a specific focus, such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Childhood diseases are common, and vaccinations are a priority. Malnutrition is present in many of our projects. Outside of ambulatory issues, paediatrics and tropical medicine, it is important you already have relevant experience in obstetrical and gynaecological problems, mental health, tropical dermatology, trauma, surgical issues, orthopaedics and stabilizing seriously ill patients with few advanced resources.
- How does MSF address allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct?
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) promotes a working environment free of harassment and abuse. Our leadership has unequivocally committed to fight abuse and reinforcing mechanisms and procedures to prevent and address it. This includes enhancing grievance channels at all levels of the organization and supporting victims and complainants. Victims or witnesses in the communities where MSF works are likewise encouraged to report misconduct to us so that allegations can be properly addressed.
- Does MSF provide psychosocial and mental health support?
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have several Psychosocial Care Units (PSCU) which provide pre-departure and post-assignment support to field workers.
Our PSCU support staff have experience in fieldwork and in providing mental health support in international humanitarian contexts. Services are available in English and may also be available in other languages if required.
Life in the field and after your mission
- Are there any learning and development opportunities in the field?
We strongly encourage staff to continue working for us beyond their first assignment. As such, we offer various career opportunities to our field workers.
You can broaden your professional experience by working in a variety of different projects and locations, and you will have access to training courses run internally or via external providers.
- Are there career development opportunities?
There are many long-term career opportunities with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). By gaining varied experience in different projects, you will have the opportunity to apply for positions in field coordination or advisory roles in our operational centres.
If you're interested in a career with MSF, you can discuss your options during the recruitment process and, if your application is successful, you will be matched with a career manager who will be your focal point for your career development within MSF.