MSF field staff worldwide give life-saving medical and technical assistance to people who would otherwise be denied access to basics such as healthcare, clean water and shelter. Annually, around 3,000 international volunteers join local staff helping populations in danger. They bring motivation, professional abilities and practical experience to projects in more than 60 countries. MSF overseas volunteers often live and work in very difficult conditions. The work is tough and demanding, but the rewards are immense.
MSF also recruits people with a non-medical background to fill a variety of support and coordinator roles.
MSF recruitment is done through our national offices and the MSF websites listed below have more information about volunteering with MSF.
If you are interested in volunteering for MSF, please read the following page. Most of the basic questions are answered. Please read carefully.
There is no set description for MSF volunteers nor why they volunteer. They come from all around the world, both sexes, all ages. If you are interested in volunteering, read some of the profiles of people who have been in the field for MSF to share their experiences.
In MSF, all potential field volunteers must be interviewed by a Human Resources officer in one of the sections before they will be considered for a posting. Some sections organise regular information meetings for people who are interested in becoming an MSF field volunteer.
In general, it is an advantage to have some experience of living or working in different cultural contexts. MSF operates with international teams, and a good command of French and/or English is useful, as is a second or third language, such as Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Swahili or Portuguese.
A successful candidate normally is invited to take part in an introductory course and then goes on stand-by, awaiting the first suitable mission. There is no age limit for volunteers. However, applicants should have at least two years professional experience in their areas of specialisation. Humanitarian work is professionally demanding, and MSF does not have positions available for students.
The average mission period is six months. In acute emergencies, some medical specialists are sent for shorter missions of up to three months. An administrator is likely to stay in a capital city position for one year, and volunteers of all profiles sometimes extend their six-month mission by a further three months before handing over to a replacement volunteer. Flexibility is a core value in MSF.
In general, MSF is looking for health professionals, administrators and logistics staff. Of the medical professions, MSF recruits general practice doctors, nurses, surgeons, anaesthetists and other specialists in such areas as tropical medicine, public health and epidemiology. In some projects, MSF also needs midwives, laboratory technicians and other paramedical volunteers.
Non-medical volunteers look after the administration and logistics of the project. Administrators are responsible for management of project finances and are in charge of locally recruited office staff. They are usually based in the capital, although in large project countries, administrators with bookkeeping functions sometimes work with the teams in the field. Logisticans come from a variety of technical backgrounds, such as construction, mechanics and water and sanitation. Logisticians are responsible for the management of stocks, freight, vehicles, communication systems and building or water projects.
MSF insures its volunteers for the period during which they are on mission. This insurance includes cover in case of medical repatriation, illness and death. MSF also pays all costs associated with a volunteer’s mission – a return ticket between home and project country, travel costs and living expenses while on mission. Volunteers are responsible for personal expenses such as souvenirs and photo developing.
A small indemnity is paid to volunteers. The amount varies from section to section, and according to the years of field experience that the volunteer has with humanitarian work.
Partners and families sometimes accompany a volunteer on mission. This is a rare occurance, however, and depends on the level of security in the host country. Each request for accompanying dependants is assessed on an individual basis by the section responsible for the project. Sometimes, missions can be found for a couple of which both partners are qualified to work for MSF.
If you would like to find out more about how to apply to become a field volunteer, you should contact the MSF office in your country of residence, or the one closest to you. There are MSF offices in 20 countries.
MSF has offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, UK, USA.
If you do not live in any of these countries, it is unlikely that MSF will be able to provide you with information about volunteering. This is because it is MSF policy that all potential field volunteers be interviewed face-to-face before being considered for a mission.
However, if you are able to travel to one of the countries where MSF has an office (if necessary), please click on the name of that country.
How to ApplyGo to the volunteer page and click on the country you want to volunteer in.
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