"This kind of relief work requires... flexibility, stamina, commitment, and most of all patience.”

Johanna MacleodNurse

This is a general overview of the minimum requirements for working with MSF. These requirements can change without prior notice in response to organisational and field project needs.


Most first missions are nine to 12 months long.

This level of commitment is a requirement because of the degree of responsibility that you are expected to assume in your missions as an MSF field worker, the time needed to become acclimatised to the projects and the need for continuity among field staff for the benefit of both our national staff and patients.

Surgeons and anaesthetists can be exempt from this time period requirement.

Some MSF projects are launched in response to sudden crises, whether natural or anthropogenic, requiring field workers who are available at short notice.

Language skills

The ability to speak French is becoming increasingly important when selecting candidates to work for MSF in the field, as many of the project locations we send MSF UK staff to are in French speaking countries.

Due to the high demand for field workers in French speaking missions, strong preference will be given to candidates who are able to speak French to at least B1 standard according to the European Framework of Languages,.

Other language skills in Spanish, Russian or Arabic are also a strong asset, and greatly increase the likelihood of finding a suitable placement.

Ability to live and work as a team

MSF field workers live and work together. The hours are long and the living conditions may be basic and offer little privacy. You 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.

Management capacity

Many expats do not realise that when they deploy to a mission, they are very often going to work as a manager of a team. In the majority of positions, one of the primary responsibilities will be to manage a team of national staff, build their capacity, run training workshops and take on planning and administrative duties for their department, such as: writing timesheets and assisting in disciplinary procedures.

The ability to manage staff respectfully, responsibly and compassionately is an essential criteria for anyone coming to work with MSF in the field.

Experience in developing countries

Since MSF works mostly in developing countries, previous work, volunteering or independent travel experience in Africa, Asia, Central or South America is essential.

The ability to train others, to act independently and to organise are prerequisites for satisfactory job performance during a project.

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.

You must be able to cope in a difficult and unpredictable environment. MSF offers support to field staff in managing in stress before, during and after missions.


Situations and activities can change quickly in the field to reflect changing needs and job descriptions change accordingly. Team composition and working environments may also change during assignments.

Your ability to be flexible and adaptable is critical to your success on an MSF project.

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