Basic Requirements for Field Volunteers

I have realized that this kind of relief work requires not just a medical background but much more: flexibility, stamina, commitment, and most of all patience.” – Johanna Macleod, Registered Nurse

So what you need is:

Commitment to the aims and values of Médecins Sans Frontières:
Please make sure you have read the previous page about Working for MSF, including MSF’s charter.

Two years of professional experience
MSF recruits only professionals. To be effective in your work in the field, you need to be able to rely on your professional skills, either medical or technical.

Ability to live and work as part of a team
MSF volunteers live and work together. The hours are long and the living conditions may be primitive and offer little privacy. Volunteers need to be tolerant and flexible and possess solid interpersonal skills. The ability and willingness to interact with people of all nationalities and cultures is essential.

Experience and an interest in training others
Quite a few of our positions require training national staff.

Ability to manage stress
Many MSF projects are located in or near conflict areas. The environment is often chaotic and volatile and the target populations are large and in distress. Even in more stable areas, sizeable workloads and team living may cause stress. Volunteers must be able to cope in a difficult and unpredictable environment.

Situations can change quickly in the field, and job descriptions must change accordingly. Departure dates can change, or even be cancelled at a moment's notice. Team composition and working environments may shift during assignments. Flexibility is critical to one's success on an MSF project.

Experience in the developing world
The vast majority of MSF's projects are in the developing world. A prerequisite to working with MSF is at least 3 months travelling and/or work experience in a developing country. Extensive work experience with communities facing insufficient access to health care in urban areas or remote rural areas is also valued.

There is no upper age limit to working with MSF as long as volunteers are physically fit and healthy. However, the necessity to have previous professional experience means that volunteers are usually over 25 years old. Whatever their age, volunteers need to be able to cope with often precarious working conditions/environment.

Language skills
Although English is the official MSF language, fluency in French, Spanish or Portuguese is an advantage.

Availability of 9-12 months
Except for surgeons and anaesthetists (please refer to the specific information for this group).

Resident in the UK or Ireland & holding a valid passport
Although you do not need to be a British or Irish passport holder. If you are not resident in the UK, please refer to our International website for the address of your nearest MSF office.