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Frequent questions

Working in the field has many particularities. The responsibility level each member of the team has, the time required in order to adjust in living and working conditions, and the willing of MSF to ensure a continuum in the project, so the communication with beneficiaries and the cooperation with the national staff to be more effective, attach importance to candidate’s availability and commitment. Usually posts in the filed lasts 6 to 9 months, while occasionally and for certain profiles (surgeons, anaesthesiologists and gynaecologists) there are shorter assignments.

For our projects in the field, MSF proceed with applications from professionals who have already graduate with minimum two years’ experience, after graduation, which are basic criteria for international staff. MSF cannot provide the possibility for internship in the field.

As soon as the application is submitted, MSF is trying to have the first communication as soon as possible, according to the ongoing needs in the per profile. The selection process usually is completed in 4 to 6 weeks.

If the selection is successful, the next step is the special preparation training for new members of MSF. After that the waiting period before the first departure lasts average 4 months. Please note that the absorption of each profile is changing according to the needs in the field.

This selection of the project is taken by MSF, always trying to match each candidate’s skills with the needs of the field. For this reason, MSF is trying to provide the best briefing during the selection process both for the living and working conditions.

Entry into status of international staff demands the departure from the residence country (expatriation), with purpose of medical humanitarian aid wherever there is need.

International staff, except coordination level positions, is not allowed to be accompanied in the field by his/her partner, at least at the first 12 months in the field. After this period and in case of partners who both work in MSF, they can apply to join the same project.

Lliving and working conditions do not allow presence of persons who are not actually participating in the project for security reasons. Relevant requests are taken under consideration case by case, considering that the employee has covered 12 months in the field and has reached coordination level (which is based in the capital).

All personnel working in the field are signing a contract (according to provisions of labour law) for the exact time they will be in the field, and they are paid according to their level of responsibility. MSF does not accept any other way of cooperation. In addition of the monthly salary, MSF is covering the field expenses (accommodation, travel expenses) and also provide an international medical insurance. Also MSF are taking over the cover of all expenses regarding the preparation of personnel to travel towards the project: medical check-ups before and after the project, vaccinations, visa, per diem etc.

MSF supports professional development. Through the participation in projects of different contexts the professional experience is broaden and gradually there is the possibility in coordination positions. MSF invests in its people development.

The advanced skills in foreign languages is considered essential criteria. MSF teams (international and national staff) are consisted of professionals of different cultural background. During being in the field all members of the team are communicating with our beneficiaries and in constantly cooperation with local actors. For the better understanding and communication, all team members need to adjust to a common working language. Having advanced skills in English, French and/or Arabic or Spanish, make for someone possible to participate in several projects in different contexts.

Situations can change quickly in the field, team composition and working environments may also change. Flexibility and adaptability is critical to the successful accomplishment of your assignment. MSF field workers live and work together.

Often, the hours are long in living conditions that may be basic or offering little privacy. Field workers need to be tolerant with strong interpersonal skills. The ability and willingness to interact with people of diverse nationalities and cultures is essential.

Working with MSF is not reckless. MSF maintains extensive risk-management procedures and security guidelines for every mission. Field workers are briefed on the country security situation before going to the field, and upon arriving at the project site are given specific security protocols. Adherence to our field guidelines for personal and team conduct and safety is not negotiable.

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.